So yesterday was #NationalStressDay a day to raise awareness of Mental Health and Wellbeing. Stress is a bit of a b*tch. I wanted to talk today about how stress has affected me and my top tips for dealing with stress.
Stress creeps up on you often when you least expect it, its sometimes self inflicted, you cant necessarily see its initial affect until its gone too far and it can have devastating effects on ones health in a number of seemingly unconnected ways. Weightless, weight gain, hair loss, interrupted sleep, disrupted emotions, irrational actions, the list is literally ENDLESS. We are all exposed to stress in our daily lives in one way or another be it exam stress, relationship stress, work stress.
I’ve been on the receiving end of stress and know all too well its effects both physically and psychologically. Accepting help or support for stress is nothing to be ashamed of, we all need some help and if that comes in the form of self-help or professional help as long as it is ‘help’ who cares! I have a friend who needed a little medical assistance; I’ve had counseling (bereavement counseling at school and a session in CBT as an adult) I’m not ashamed, it helped.
This day comes in light of the story that claims 85% of Dutch are satisfied with their lives and the news that my hometown has been voted the most miserable place to live in the UK. I’m happy enough in my life. Yes I probably would be happier in The Netherlands and sometimes I am a little miserable but life is all about finding the balance (that an I don’t live in Wolverhampton any more!).
I thought I’d share some of my top stress busting tips for you to try in a moment of stress or when things just feel a little too much.
1# Talk to someone. A doctor, a friend or a stranger the effects are the near enough the same. If you’re not comfortable off loading to a friend go and park yourself at a bus stop and talk to a stranger. How many times have you ever been caught out by a little old lady nattering on about her day? Just by talking about mundane things can help you reflect on the day and seen the positive elements. And trust me, pay attention to an oldie and it makes their day. I love talking to old people and they benefit from it too, working with a mix of ages I talk to lots of people and the amount of people who just need to talk is incredible. The professionals know their stuff too and if you need a little extra help they are the best ones to see but if you’ve had a bad day in the office or just find yourself feeling a little out of sorts you are ok to tell the next person you see that you’ve not had the best day, you never know their day might have been a hole lot worse than yours!
2# Walk. Go for a walk on your own, headphones in world out – we’ve all seen the meme haven’t we! Fresh air and putting one foot in front of another is a mindful technique, the whole principle of moving forward helps in a subconscious way too plus attempting not to fall over or walk in dog poo does distract the mind too. Exercise helps and walking is the least strenuous way in my opinion, I’m not down for all that running nonsense.
3# Make a cup of tea. Not in the obvious sense although I do believe that tea sooth the soul. I’ve got a friend who works with people in substance abuse detox and they encourage the ‘mindful cup of tea’. The difference, I know you’re all desperate to find out about; focusing on the process involved in making the drink. This focus removes the clutter from the brain. Popping candy works well too. Focusing on a noise, feeling or sound takes the mind away from the stressor and clears the conscious. Try it, it’s a bit like meditation but with a real focus, I find meditation makes me think of the problem more than forget about it.
4# Just carry on. Probably my most controversial tip but in times of stress just keep going. The world keeps turning, the hours keep ticking by and to quote the legend that is Viktor Hugo “even the darkest night will end and the sun will rise (#LesMis). In the moment is sucks but in hindsight it wasn’t that bad, the only way to get this hindsight is by carrying on and getting through the shit. Some days wont feel as bad as others, some days will feel a lot worse but if you don’t encourage yourself to fight for ‘tomorrow’ you’ll never get to see it.
5# Be prepared. In times of known stress such as exam stress the key is to being prepared. Stress comes from feeling overwhelmed being prepared can elevate this feeling, some stresses can’t be foreseen but keeping on top of tasks and asking for help at the first sign of difficulty really does help.
How do you cope with stress? Share your experiences and techniques with me!