Back with more tips on how to manage stress! But these tips also work on depression and anxiety – and will help with any blah feelings. If you missed part 1 on getting rid of stress, check it out right here. See Tips 1-4.
Boy, is this ever tried and true. In any given situation, no matter how bad it seems, there is literally an infinity of good things to focus on, and an infinity of bad things. Stress often comes from falling into negativity and focusing too much on the bad. We feel like life has it out for us, and fall into victim mentality. Making a list of blessings and things to be thankful for REALLY helps alleviate stress, and more importantly, shift mindset.
Again remember, stress and suffering come from a mismatch between our desired reality and our ACTUAL reality. Remember that this life is a gift – you are owed absolutely nothing. Yet you are blessed beyond belief even with just your life, no matter how sick or stricken you are, you are still surrounded by love, by beauty and by miracles.
Right now. Two variations. Either list 5 of the SMALLEST, most overlooked blessings you have, OR pick one thing and list multiple reasons while you are grateful for it – really go deep into how much it contributes to your life. Find things about it you appreciate that you never even noticed before.
6) Favorite things emergency tool kit – smells/books/songs
Don’t overlook material things for helping you deal with stress. Any port in a storm, and while it is better to get a handle on stress from a deeper place, sometimes we JUST NEED TO DESTRESS, screw making ourselves a better person or learning how to meditate. You need quick fixes in your arsenal, but be wary of relying on just that alone.
I have certain books, songs, shows, rituals and smells that are amazing for fixing my mood and calming me down. I usually do yoga at home alone, but if I’m super stressed I’ll indulge in a studio class, and bring a nice, easy, juicy book to take to a cafe to savor with coffee afterwards. A little 2 hour break, and I feel like a new person.
If I don’t have 2 hours, then I have some of the most amazing essential oils at my fingertips – and let me tell you, aromatherapy WORKS. I love the earthy, warm, gentle scent of Calendula, the bright candy-like zest of Green Mandarin, and the sweet green vervacity of Marjoram personally. One whiff of these oils and I’m calmed and happy. Freakin’ amazing.
There are also songs I can count on to repair my mood – and I’m sure you have your songs that make you feel happy too! (Would LOVE to hear in the comments!)
Make a list of things that help your mood – activities like running or taking a relaxing bath, songs that lift your spirits, smells or perfumes, maybe even clothes or makeup that make you feel good, books, shows or movies that you can dissolve into to forget your worries for a bit – and if you feel like sharing, I am dying to know what makes you feel happy in the comments – by sharing, you might give other readers some ideas, too!
This is a powerful set of words and can single-handedly deal with almost all stressful things. We’ll go through them one by one:
Stress is often caused by simply having too many things on our plate, causing overwhelm. We fall into the trap of telling ourselves that there is nothing we can get rid of – NOT TRUE. You must be ruthless, honest, and take back control of your life without fearing (imagined) consequences. Cancel events, obligations, activities that are relatively low priority – you can’t do everything, and learning to edit is a crucial life skill. I’ve come to love saying no, and canceling things. It really feels good and gives you space to breathe.
Ok, maybe there are things you simply cannot delete, yet your plate is still too full. Can you defer instead? Do those deadlines REALLY need to be met or can they be pushed to next quarter? Can you apologize graciously and ask someone to wait another week? Most things can be defered and the stakeholders are usually much more understanding than we give them credit for, especially if we communicate well.
Ok, deleting and deferring are not options. Then delegate. If the task must be completed, give it to someone else. Then trust they will handle it and let it go.
If none of the other things are an option, reach out to someone safe and loving, and just vent like crazy. Tell them all about your stress, all about the things stressing you out, shout, cry, be petty, and realize that when you describe something – or when you “name” something, it grows smaller and more manageable. By describing it, we see how silly or how manageable it might actually be. And when we talk to other people, they can give us helpful ideas and put things in perspective.
Vent to someone! In an email or a phone call or in person. Don’t worry about sending them negative vibes, or imposing on them! Just do it. This is for you – let them help. 🙂
Life is meant to be full of joy. If you are not feeling deeply joyful, then something is wrong. Joy is a key indicator of emotional and mental wellbeing. How to cultivate joy almost immediately? Get in touch with your inner child, and do something playful – challenge someone to a race. Get a game of pickup soccer going. Start a book club. Go to the dinosaur museum. Do a science experiment in your kitchen. Bake sugar cookies and decorate. Do some art or coloring or work with some clay, make some jewelry, whatever. Get some charades or pictionary going. Get friends together, laugh and play.
Figure out what gives you joy and makes you feel playful. Spend time thinking about how to get that in your life!
9) Move your body/ Get out of your head
Stress often comes from being in your head too much. Worrying, imagining, etc.
Five hundred years ago, Michel de Montaigne said: “My life has been filled with terrible misfortune; most of which never happened.” This study proves that quote true. In the study, subjects were asked to write down their worries over an extended period of time and then identify which of their imagined misfortunes did not actually happen.
Lo and behold, it turns out that 85 percent of what subjects worried about never happened, and with the 15 percent that did happen, 79 percent of subjects discovered either they could handle the difficulty better than expected, or the difficulty taught them a lesson worth learning. (via Don Joseph Goewey)
This means that 97 percent of what you worry over is basically just a fearful mind punishing you with exaggerations and misperceptions.
So get out of your head! Running REALLY used to help me with stress and anxiety – it would somehow help me process my worries, like getting them chewed up by a worry-shredder. And yoga helps me to focus on my body and breath so my mind gets to take a complete break from worrying for a whole hour. Our bodies are here to help our minds. Use the tool of your body. Exercise has proven over and over, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that is is incredibly helpful for dealing with stress.
I wrote this a while ago and am reminded of it now:
“I remember when exercise was for burning calories, building strength and changing my shape.
These days I move my body to clarify and shift my energy.
To get outside, to run the stale cobwebs off my bones, to flush my lungs with clean air.
To still my mind with the unique focus physical exertion requires.
To come back home to my body.
To ask what it wants.
To feel what it feels.
To appreciate the way it moves.
To figure out what it is that I want. And need.
These days, I exercise not for burning calories, but for burning away the things that need to go.
Not for building strength, but for building back the parts of me that dissolved away draped over the computer in the stale stillness.
Not for changing the shape of my body, but for changing the shape of my aura.
I exercise, but not like before.”
Figure out the BEST/EASIEST time for you to exercise – even if it’s JUST 5 MINUTES of dancing in your room. Something is infinitely better than nothing. But make sure that if you’re not a morning person, you don’t pick a 2 hour session at 6am as your optimal time. Be true to yourself. 🙂 In fact, at first schedule no MORE than 15 minutes of exercise, but try to do 3x a week at least. Can you find 45 min of time in your week?
10) do something nice for someone else
Boy, does this ever help with stress. First of all, you shift the focus from obsessing about yourself and your problems to someone else. So that’s a huge relief. And then doing something nice feels sooo good! It can be small, like a sweet comment on social media even! Or a card or a gift or a thoughtful gesture. It fills you with feeling good, helps you take a break from thinking about your issues and connects you to another person. Win/win.
Send someone a nice email just because, out of the blue. Tell them how much they mean to you and how much you admire them and appreciate them in your life. 🙂
11) device and social media detox – disconnect
I do this all the time. My phone gets put on airplane mode everynight. Sometimes, if I need it, then for the entire weekend. You’d be amazed at how much stress comes from constantly being pinged by things demanding our attention. It’s like constantly being shot at by bullets! Just say no. No one needs their messages responded to instantly. And literally 90% of the emails you get do not really NEED a response – at least not immediately.
Finally, constantly scrolling through feeds and being exposed to other people’s lives is actually really stressful – everything we see (and our newsfeed is FULL) demands some sort of emotional response – empathy, jealousy, curiosity. It’s a lot for our brain and our heart to handle, even though it feels innocuous.
Disconnecting feels sooo good. Do it!
Put your phone on airplane mode at 8pm and forget about it till you wake up. See if you can go ONE FULL SUNDAY with your phone on airplane mode or simply put away in a drawer somewhere.
I think I have enough for one last post on stress, so look for part three soon, but in the meantime, make sure you see part 1, and leave your tips and tricks for dealing with stress in the comments.
Also, if you feel like sharing, really curious to know what the most stressful thing in your life is right now?
As always, sending tons of bliss and beauty your way!