Remember, not all stress is harmful at all, and often a bit of it in the right scenario helps us perform at our best. Stress can help us learn, improve and grow.
However, when stress becomes chronic and starts to effect our overall mood, health and sleep, it might be time to start exploring some other tools to help support you. Tackling your stress might come with some trade-offs and it might not feel all that appealling, cool or fun to do, but living a life under constant stress, in my opinion, isn't that fun or easy either!!
1. Write it down
You could call this journalling, but I think this often puts off the perfectionist in us. Grab a notebook, a scrap piece of paper or note on your phone and write down what you feel. Write down what p*ssed you off in your day, write down what scared you or what you struggled with. Write about what made you laugh or cry.
You don't need to date or title it, make it make sense, and you don't need to write down an account of what happened to you (you're not trying to get a stranger to follow a plot).
I find a helpful way to get going is to open the blank notebook to a random page and draw a massive heart/scribble. It helps me get over the need to make it 'perfect': to write neatly, to make proper entries, to keep it pristine etc. It doesn't need to be nice, or be able to be read by anyone. Just download whatever is in your brain. It's the process of doing that that matter, so you can always throw it away or burn it afterwards!!
Just brain dump.
2. Shake and Release
This combination of movement and breathing is a really effective, quick way to help you deal with the stress that is in your body. You have to get over the feeling of 'looking stupid' because the kind of shaking we need is the stuff that makes us wobble!
I don't mean fake a smile, look for the positives in every situation and just 'get on with it' through an awful situation. Gratitude doesn't necessarily even mean feeling grateful. Instead, ask yourself this question daily:
“What have I been given today?”
Did you get sunshine, clean water from the faucet, or a smile from someone? Write it all down, or tell someone.
4. Celebrate bright spots
Even in the most stressful of days, weeks and months, there are many bright spots we can look out in our days. When we get stressed, we can put on blinkers (and rightly so, because we're often just trying to survive), but it can cause us to lose a sense of joy, beauty, awe or wonder from our days. And I don't mean grand things here. It might be the way the clouds are rushing across the sky, the way a plant is pushing up through a crack, watching someone smile, the feeling of light, warmth or wind on your face. It might be when we do something well, however small.
Celebrate all of those tiny moments, and all of the tiny wins we've had.
5. A smarter sleep schedule
You need to be awake for about 16 hours before you start to feel sleepy again, so if you're struggling with sleep (you're not alone), first of all start with:
- when you need to get up
- how much sleep you want/need
- count back that many hours = your bed time.
And yes, that's going to come with trade-offs that aren't going to feel that appealing to many, like an earlier bedtime, sacrificing some of that 'me' or 'entertainment' time. But what could be better for you that more sleep?
Dr Matthew Walker's book 'Why we sleep' is a fantastic place to dive into more on this.
Which is your favourite tip?
Which will you be trying this week?
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