April is stress awareness month and it has been held every year since 1992, to help increase awareness about stress, the rise in our stress levels and how we can help manage the stresses in our every day lives. Modern day stress has been likened to an epidemic – and it’s easy to see why. It’s also worrying to think about how much longer we can all realistically keep living the way we’re living, if it’s causing us so much stress.
We can experience stress in every single area of our lives and we all experience stress in different ways, at different levels and at different times. It’s tricky to offer advice about stress because of the simple fact that everyone IS so different.
So I think the awareness of stress, what stress is and what might cause stress is a vital part of stress awareness month. Some people might be so accustomed to being stressed that they don’t even realise it’s a problem.
So in what ways might we be stressed in the different areas of our lives?
- Relationships: Arguments with a partner, being in a toxic relationship, trying to manage relationships that don’t align with you anymore, having a lack of good relationships in your life or having no friends to help or lean on.
- Work: Not being fulfilled at work, having a difficult boss, not getting on with your colleagues, working too many hours, having too many tight deadlines, being put under too much pressure, not being paid enough.
- Home: Having too many things to fix in the home, not living in a big enough space for your needs, living in an area you don’t like or that might be dangerous, living in a place that doesn’t provide you with comfort.
- Personal growth: Not feeing fulfilled in your life, feeling like you don’t have a purpose, feeling behind on where you are in life, feeling stuck in your current circumstances or situation, mental illness.
And that’s just a small handful of all the things that might stress us out but of course most other issues will fall under at least one of these categories. Money, for example, being one of the biggest stressors, can impact every area of life.
Like I said, we all experience stress in very different ways. For me, personally, I know I’m stressed because I start to feel frazzled. Usually, I’m a very organized person, I stick to my lists, I don’t procrastinate and I get shit done. I know where I’m supposed to be at any given time of day and I’m NEVER late – trust me on that!
But when I’m stressed, I find that my mind literally feels frazzled. I feel like I can’t string a sentence together. I feel like I can’t form a coherent thought.
I end up multi-tasking, starting one thing, stopping midway through and starting something else. I kinda feel like I’m moving through water in my body but my mind is going at a 100mph.
When I’m REALLY stressed and the anxiety that comes with being stressed started seeping in as well, I can find myself very irritable, agitated (even with things like clothes and the way they feel on my body) and I get heart palpitations. Not nice.
Here are 6 ways that I manage my own stress for stress awareness month:
Obviously Yoga was going to be on here for me. Yoga is one thing that I can do that I know will help manage my stress levels, even just for 20 minutes or half an hour. A gentle and restorative Yoga practice is always nice to slow things down and regulate my nervous system but sometimes, I like to do something fiery to really get out of my head and into my body.
Go for a walk
Putting my favourite music on and taking myself for a walk is a good way for me to de-stress for a while, especially if it’s somewhere with dogs. Dogs are another dead cert way for me to forget about my worries. So walking in a park, with dogs and greenery around me is a good idea if I can feel the stress building.
Have a nap
Sometimes I’m so stressed and burnt out, I just nap. And I think that’s okay. I don’t think we always have to be ACTIVELY trying to lessen our stress. Sometimes, we should just let sleep do the work for us. There’s nothing to be stressed about if we’re unconscious, right?
I take myself somewhere alone
As an introvert, being around too many people for too long can definitely have an impact on my mental health. I love people – but I also need my alone time. So when I’m stressed, I much prefer being alone, without people talking to me. I go on regular solo spa breaks, which I absolutely love. They definitely help me reset and de-stress.
I don’t do this all the time, it very much depends on whether I’m in the mood to play videogames but when I do, they are one of the best things to help me get out of my own head and get all the stress out on the screen, within the game.
Sometimes I’ll go for Spyro the Dragon, my all-time favourite which is more of a comfort game than anything else. Other times, it’s Red Dead Redemption or The Last of Us. Something with a banging storyline I can get my teeth into.
Again, I don’t do this all the time. Sometimes journaling works for me, sometimes it doesn’t. It’s not a big deal. But when it does work, it really works. And I feel so good for getting all my thoughts, stresses, worries and fears out from my head and onto a piece of paper.
I think one of the main things when it comes to stress and dealing with stress is knowing yourself.
Knowing your limits.
Knowing your triggers.
Knowing what helps you.
And definitely knowing what makes it worse.
These things aren’t always easy to figure out. It can take years to come to some sort of level of self-awareness to be able to say, “no, I’m not doing that because that’s going to make my stress worse”.
If you really don’t know how to manage your stress – that’s okay too.
We’re do bombarded with things to do, responsibilities and every day stresses that it can be hard to gather our thoughts, let alone know how to manage the stress that comes with it.
So for anyone who needs some ideas on how to manage stress, here are a few options to consider. But it’s important to remember that it all comes down to YOU.
If you try something that doesn’t work, make a mental note and move on.
Move your body
I’m not going to tell you HOW to move your body (for me, it’s Yoga, walks and swimming) but just moving it in whatever way feels good for you on that day can be a great stress relief. It’s no secret that exercise improves mental health and helps reduce stress anyway but it’s important to find what works for you.
Do something creative
Doing something creative like writing, painting, playing / making music etc. can be a wonderful outlet for letting your stress out in a really healthy way.
Don’t deprive yourself
For me, there’s nothing that stresses me out more when I can’t have something that I want that I know I’m going to enjoy. No, you don’t want to be eating cakes and takeaways every day but if you’re mega stressed and that’s going to make you feel better for a bit then I am ALL for doing that.
But be cautious
For example, alcohol and caffeine can often make things like anxiety and stress worse, if you’re not careful with how you’re consuming it. If a glass of your favourite wine with dinner is going to take the edge off, there’s where you shouldn’t deprive. But perhaps don’t neck a whole bottle.
Don’t copy what everyone else is telling you to do
Although post such as this one can certainly be helpful in giving you some ideas, it’s by no means a guidebook on how to manage stress. If you hate Yoga, then Yoga isn’t going to make you feel better. So don’t do it, just because I’ve said or someone else has said it.
Speak to someone
And of course, if your stress is really bad then it’s vital you seek additional help. You might want to speak to your GP, who might refer you to therapy, put you on medication or be able to give you some tips on how to manage your stress. If you’re really suffering in the moment, you could also call The Samaritans.
So, in light of stress awareness month, I hope this post was somewhat helpful to anyone who is dealing with stress. If you’re going through a stressful time right now, I send you all the love and light.
Please share your own ways in which you manage your own stress!
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