Welcome back to Self Care January, today’s topic will be about stress and how to cope with stress.
We are all going through daily life stressors, and then there are also the bigger stressors in our lives. Stress is not an easy thing to deal with because it affects your judgment and emotional response. In addition, prolonged stress can lead to negative effects on your physical and emotional health. The best way to handle stress is to begin by recognizing the signs and how your body reacts. Being self-aware is so important for our physical and mental health.
When you are self-aware you can apply the necessary coping strategies to deal with the stress before it becomes excessive. Obviously, you can’t fix yourself in one day this requires constant effort. So today I decided to share a list of strategies that can help you cope with stress.
Meditation is wonderful because it teaches your mind how to focus on the present moment and bring your mind inward. It helps you focus on your breathing, in addition, paying attention to any bodily sensations. Are your shoulders tense? Are you sweating from the stress? Has your breathing increased? When you are aware of these factors, you can meditate to bring down your adrenaline levels and breathe. Meditation is all about being aware of your surroundings, being aware of the noise around you, what you see, what you feel. I am not the greatest at medication, my mind wonders around a lot, but I do my best to teach my mind to focus on the present moment. Meditation is great whenever you feel like you are about to have an anxiety or a panic attack.
2. Writing in a journal.
Sharing your personal struggles with people all the time is not something they are always open to hearing. I’m sure you might have a few people or one person to turn to, but you want to make sure the sharing is not excessive. I started using a journal to write down my thoughts, anything negative or positive for the sole purpose of venting. Sometimes when we are emotional we may say things we regret, so writing in a journal you can write whatever you want because it’s only for your eyes to read. It has proven to be helpful for me, I can be myself and be authentic.
After my friendship breakup last summer, I became anti-social, I started to prefer spending time alone. This is not a bad thing, but we are human beings and we crave contact. Even the most independent person will start to feel lonely. Going out with friends will distract you from your life worries, and make you have some fun. I went out recently for lunch with my best friends, and it made me feel more relaxed. It made me remember how good it felt to go out and have some fun with friends.
I rely heavily on aromatherapy to relax me, I have the worst anxiety but when I use my diffuser and it fills my room with the relaxing scents, and it makes me feel better. I typically prefer lavender and eucalyptus mint.
5. Adult Colouring Books.
Adult coloring books are absolutely wonderful, I feel like a kid again when I use them. The reason why I chose to include them on this list as a stress reliever is because they allow you to be fully focused on one task. When I first started using adult coloring books, I was fully focusing on coloring in the details. It took me two or three hours if I am committed to coloring more pages. During that time I didn’t really think about anything else, but the task at hand. I really enjoyed it and in a way, it is similar to meditation. It helps you focus on a task in the moment.
Sometimes applying these coping strategies may not be enough to cure your stress if it’s been going on for a long time. Seeking the help of a therapist is nothing to be ashamed about and it doesn’t mean you are weak for seeking their help. In fact, you are strong enough to realize stress is affecting your well being and you need a professional to help you. There is a negative stigma attached to seeking a therapist, with the idea of you being crazy for going to therapy. This is not the 1900s, in our world today mental health is more prevalent than the past, therefore, making an appointment with a therapist could be helpful.
Many people say that with exercise you get those happy endorphins, and it is true. I remember a time when I went to the gym and I was feeling very overwhelmed with my job. I had no energy prior to going to the gym, nevertheless, I decided to stick to my regular routine. When I started doing my workout, I started to feel energized. I don’t know if it was the groovy music I was listening to, but I felt so hyper and completed a full hour of workout. I was smiling more and I stopped thinking about my job woes. According to Harvard Medical School, exercise has the capacity to exhilarate and relax, to provide stimulation and calm, to counter depression and dissipate stress. I agree with this statement 100% it really helps your physical and mental health.
To add to the workout point, yoga is also great because it allows you to fully stretch your body. Any muscle aches or soreness that you may have will feel more relaxed with yoga, and yoga allows you to focus fully on the present moment.
9. Getting enough sleep.
Believe or not, but when your body is not fully rested it will affect your cognitive abilities. It will make you feel fatigued, cranky, and easily prone to stress. When we are not getting enough sleep we are also most likely to feel irritated easily or respond strongly to the stressor. Getting up to 7-8 hours of sleep is very important, when you are well rested you will feel better and think adequately about the situation.
10. Nature walks.
Nature has a healing effect on my mind, body, and soul. In 2016, I was constantly sick and also very stressed out from work. That year I went on a trip to Vancouver for two weeks, on that trip I hiked with my friends and we were constantly around nature. I suddenly felt very at peace and forgot all of my troubles. Being around nature, and seeing its beauty was very calming for me. Now, I prefer to go out for a walk around the neighborhood to the nearest park. I sit with a book, or simply sit on a bench and enjoy my surroundings.
I hope these tips were helpful for any of you who are going through a lot of stress right now. Remember, healing and taking control of your stress does not happen overnight. It requires constant effort and works, but it is worth it.
Thank you for reading and see you soon!