How I cope in times of stress

I blog about mental health a lot and I’m totally open about my anxiety and how it affects me. Which is bad. Sometimes. I think during my anxiety journey, I’ve learnt a lot about how to deal with both anxiety and stress. I’ve probably learnt more coping mechanisms with anxiety than I ever would have if I didn’t develop it in the first place. Which, thinking about it, I suppose is one benefit to come out of having my mental health disorder. Of course we all need coping strategies when we’re stressed. Because we all get stressed and we’ll all have periods of more stress than others. You know how it is, everything’s fine for months then 12 problems come along at once. I’ve recently had a bit of a episode like that, which I’m not going to go into but it’s important to reiterate the point that everyone goes through it. It can help to know we’re not alone, if nothing else. 

I’m not speaking for anyone apart from myself here and I’m sharing these things because I’ve found they’ve worked for me and may work for you too. Of course if you think it’s not stress and you’re suffering from a mental health problem then the GP should be your first port of call, not my bloody blog post! But for anyone willing and open to try some new coping techniques for those inevitable times of stress, I hope you find something here that’s helpful.

Give yourself X amount of time to worry

Obviously this will depend on what you’re worrying about but I’ve certainly found setting a limit on my “worry time” definitely helps. Trying to forget about our stresses and worries just isn’t doable sometimes and I don’t think it’s healthy to try and force someone to put them to the back of their mind and never think about them. Feeling what we feel is an important part of being human. But we know when enough is enough. I sometimes allow myself 15 minutes to think about everything, worry, scream, cry, panic – whatever it is I have to do. Then stop. It’s hard at first but with practice, can really save your day.

Focus on today and only today

My gosh, living “in the moment” is one of the most beneficial things I’ve learnt since developing anxiety and being worried about absolutely everything, ever. If I have a big “thing” coming up; a doctors appointment, a holiday, an event – anything, I could worry my knickers off every single day leading up to it. A prime example of this was a New Years Eve party I was invited to a few years back which I worried about every day for 2 months and guess what? It’s never as bad as what you think it’s going to be. Focusing on today and only today is a life saver. Honestly and truly. If you don’t know where to start with this, I’d suggest Yoga, meditation or mindfulness. Apps, books, DVD’s, whatever you can get your hands on.

Get out of your head

Easier said than done, I know but really, just doing something which will get you out of your head for a while – literally even for just an hour – will be so beneficial. I don’t mean having a relaxing bath or going for a walk because although these things are fantastic for your self care and mental health, they also allow you a lot of time to think. My go-to for this one is playing The Sims. I could be out of my own head for hours, if not days while I’m playing this game. It allows me to completely forget about everything and everyone and that’s really useful. Find your thing.

Look after yourself

When you’re super stressed, it’s easy to neglect ourselves. I know that as much as anyone. But at the end of the day, we deserve better than that from ourselves. Basic self care should never be overlooked, regardless of how silly or obvious it sounds. Seriously, just make sure you drink some water, brush your teeth, maybe have a stretch in the morning. don’t neglect your beautiful self.

Put things into mental boxes

This one sounds weird and I’m aware I’m beginning to sound like a therapist here so bear with. I do this when I have a lot of little things going on and it can really help. When there’s so many little things stressing you out, it can be easy to just look at the big picture and think, “everything’s fucked”. It can be super hard to differentiate between the problems and what’s actual worth your worry and what isn’t. I go through each little thing, individually (probably during my ’15 minutes of worry time’) and put into a box what at this moment in time, I don’t need to worry about. That doctors appointment next week? Don’t need to worry about that right now. See what I mean?

I hope this post was in any way helpful to you. If you have your own suggestions then I would love to hear what techniques you use in times of stress – however silly or weird they sound!

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69 thoughts on “How I cope in times of stress

  1. These are brilliant ideas, I definitely think setting an amount of time for worrying/panic THEN getting out of your own head is a great combo for anxiety, you don’t end up being a martyr (with the inevitable crash) you get time to stew and then time to just forget about things rather than ruminating over and over which is difficult to break but always makes things worse.
    Great post!

      • If i’m struggling in general then I definitely waste too much time doing this but at least these days I realise what I’m doing and there’s a point where I embrace acceptance and move on rather than just chewing it over

  2. I love this, especially getting out of your head! I find this one so hard and have been working on it a lot in therapy (for a very long time) lol I feel that is such great advice!

  3. Fabulous post. Thank you for sharing yourself with others this way.
    Yoga has helped me tremendously and reinforces one of my first strategies of using breathing techniques to bring myself out of panic mode. I started doing those a long time before using essential oils, but oils definitely increase what I get from those.
    Oh, and mental boxes are one of my other go tos for coping so I don’t think they sound weird at all!

  4. This is such a great post. I am such a worrier! It’s the worse at times, as it really can stop you from doing things 😦 I’ll definitely have to make note of these tips and use them. I love playing the sims, haha. Hours can pass by without you even realising 😂

    Amy,
    https://creativenails.uk

  5. I suffer from anxiety as well as PTSD, what really helps me is your suggestion about worrying only about Today… it takes a load off worrying about the future and somehow makes me feel more productive through out the day.

    love this post xx

  6. You have so many good ideas Jenny! 💖 Focusing on the now helps me so much too. If I look too far ahead I start to worry unnecessarily. I did Yoga With Adriene Stress Melt yoga today as I was feeling overwhelmed and wow, I felt like a different person in half hour 😌. Thanks for sharing your helpful suggestions 😘 xx

    Bexa | http://www.hellobexa.com

  7. Really good tips & advice & it’s important to give yourself that time to think through things without the pressure of people who say don’t stress or don’t worry as if that helps. Putting things into mental boxes helps me, helps process things & to store it away & move on & build on it.

  8. Interesting way to look at/deal with things when times are stressful. I tend to just write it out, let it build up or nap it off! It’s always good to hear how other people deal with things differently! X

  9. Living in the moment is something I’ve been trying to do especially in times of being stress. I have a tendency to get lost inside my head and feeling like the stress and worry could eat me alive. Your ideas in coping with stress are great, I’ll make sure to follow your advices x

    http://danidotyes.blogspot.com

  10. This is such a great post. I love how you’re open about anxiety, and the way you comfortably talk about it. Sometimes, just letting someone know that they’re not in this alone makes a big difference in their lives. I hope this post helps people who are going through tough times.
    Keep writing!

  11. There’s a great quote: “if you’re not going to worry about it in 5 years’ time why spend 5 minutes worrying about it now?” And whenever I get stressed I just remember that, and it helps me to calm down a bit.

    Amy | hookedonthemusic.com

  12. Focusing on today and today only is a massive coping mechanism for me. I am such a worrier and I can’t help but panic about the bigger picture and what life’s going to look like in x amount of years and that makes me so anxious and panic sometimes. So to take it one day at a time is so so important. It’s one my lovely mummy always reminds me of and a massive peice of advice that has changed my life!!

  13. I relate so much, and I think like you said, it’s so important to only allow yourself to worry for so long. I have just started walking again and gosh, it’s therapeutic. You sometimes just need some fresh air and a fresh perspective. I always find it comforting to read these kind of MH posts, I feel less alone x x x

  14. This is such a helpful post, Jenny, so many great tips here. My garden is my go to in times of stress, grubbing around in the dirt and being out in nature really soothes me. But I love your suggestion of giving myself X amount of time to worry about something. That’s definitely something I’m going to try out when the garden isn’t available. Thank you for sharing these tips 🙂

    Lisa | http://www.lisasnotebook.com

  15. Fantastic post! Thanks so much for sharing. I love the idea of putting a time limit on worrying – that’s such a great idea. I often live by the motto of taking one day at a time and not thinking too far into the future because otherwise I get totally overwhelmed.

  16. Love this, it’s the getting out of your head that frustrates me at times. I know say stop! Either out loud or in my head. Take a step back mentally from that incessant circle of thoughts and bring myself back to the moment. If it’s in the past there’s no point in rehashing it again now! Thanks again, nice to hear other people’s stories on how they cope too 🙂

  17. Absolutely LOVE this post. I’m so guilty of spending absolutely ages worrying about things in advance, or of feeling like everything’s a disaster if a couple of small things go wrong. I’ve got to the point now where I don’t let myself panic about situations until the night before haha, as it also leaves me much less time to chicken out and cancel/avoid stressful situations. I love the mental box idea too, I hate the way I can really blow things out of proportion sometimes.
    Beth x Adventure & Anxiety

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