Does anybody ever handle stress well? Everything could be going perfectly well and then *snaps fingers* BAM! things can change in an instant. Most articles prescribing ways to reduce stress say “look after yourself and focus on the here and now.” Focusing on yourself is easier said than done.
Lately my stressors have been related to ending a job I love, leaving a place filled with 5 years of memories, starting a new job, selling my house, buying a new house, couch surfing at my relatives’, and the thought that my last visit with my Nana (one of my best friends and my wisest mentor) could have been my LAST. A little bit more pressure than the average Jill, I must say. It feels like there’s no room left in my busy mind to look out for myself and how I’m feeling.
Sometimes I break down and cry myself to sleep. That can’t be healthy. And waking up with puffy eyes is embarrassing. There are so many things that are beyond my control. It comforts me when I’m in control of my life. And this loss of control is what pushes me over the edge.
I’m writing this article partly as a self-help exercise, but also to help you make sense of what the self-help gurus recommend as stress relief.
How to focus on yourself
- Exercise. I haven’t tried this one yet. It seems like the biggest commitment and perhaps that’s why. I’m so busy trying to control and eliminate my stressors that I don’t make time for myself. Moral: Just Do It.
- Set aside time for yourself. The first step, before setting aside time to do something, is to set aside time to figure out how you can relax. Then make time in your calendar, agenda, or whatever to do that thing!
- Relax. When you are planning what thing you want to spend time doing, consider the things that help you relax. Reading, writing, yoga, sleeping, watching my favourite TV shows, baking, cleaning, and spending time with loved ones helps me relax. Your list is likely different, so find out what works for you.
- Breathe. Take a deep breath when things turn for the worst. Yoga has helped me focus on my breathing. In a moment of panic it’s tough to keep a clear mind and consider other perspectives. Sometimes you just need to go with your gut feeling. But to avoid stress during or after your moment of panic, pace your breath. Breathe in through the nose and out through the mouth. Inhale relaxation, presence, and good karma, exhale stress, tension, and negative thoughts.
- Eat healthy and regularly. Again, easier said than done. Eating when I’m stressed is actually super relieving. But only in the short run. My stomach has always been sensitive and aches when I’m excited or under a ton of pressure. Eating leafy greens and carrots isn’t always the best idea for me. Eating healthy isn’t just about what you eat but also how often and how it’s cooked (e.g. deep fried meat vs. barbecued meat).
Keep calm and put things in perspective.