Everyone deals with stress; it is part of being human. Its darkness can close in from any direction in your life at a given time, whether it is about family, finances, or pretty much anything in life that is meaningful and important to you. The question at this point often lies in how you deal with said stress. In some cases, it can be a positive motivator when channeled into productivity, and in other cases it can be crippling and destructive.
It squelches your creativity and dampens your spirit.
What does crippling and destructive stress feel like? To start, it causes productivity to go down the tubes. This sort of stress makes you feel weighed down and causes you to second-guess everything that you say and do, to the point that you want to shut down and simply not bother at all. It squelches your creativity and dampens your spirit. Sometimes your heart races and your stomach churns, and even if you know from a logical standpoint that you will inevitably beat this new obstacle like you always do, it can be difficult to believe it in that moment.
So, if you suffer from this type of stress at any time, whether on occasion or as a result of chronic anxiety, these are a few reminders that may help you turn all that energy in a positive direction.
I begin here because it is the simplest and the most obvious. It might be frustrating when you are stressed and someone tells you to breathe – “As if that will solve the problem!”, you think – but it can actually be more helpful than you realize. Although it will not erase the underlying issue or make the stress disappear, taking slow, deep breaths as opposed to quick, shallow ones can often ease physical symptoms such as a quick pulse and stomach butterflies.
Talk it Out
If something has you stressed or overwhelmed, simply talking about the problem can help exponentially. Bottling up that destructive energy is never healthy, and if you let it grow for too long it will only increase your overall anxiety. Your mind can run in unproductive ways, sometimes towards the illogical. Talk to someone who will listen and respect whatever your troubles may be, even if they may sound trivial or unimportant to someone else’s ears. When you open up and say it out loud, sometimes the biggest monster becomes just a wee mouse.
Alternately, talking to yourself is good, too. Yes: out loud. Have a mantra or two. Repeating lines such as, This will be over soon. I just have to get to the other side, or, My spirit is stronger than anything I am facing. I can make this work may comfort, remind, and inspire you that you will triumph over these challenges.
Put Separate Problems Into Categories
Sometimes, a bunch of tiny obstacles can look like a huge one if you become overwhelmed. The trick is to not allow yourself to become overwhelmed, by instead looking at each problem or responsibility individually and prioritizing. That way, you can center on one thing at a time and get it accomplished more quickly. Find your balance and you will discover that your problems may seem surmountable.
Keep your mind sharp by taking care of your body. Stress can be far more crushing if you also feel physically weakened. You will be more equipped to handle potentially stressful situations by eating healthy foods regularly and exercising. It is also crucial to get a good sleep every night so that you remain alert and energized during the day. Relying on sugar and caffeine for a boost can ultimately cause you even more stress afterward due to the speedy rise and drop of your sugar. Take care of your soul, too! Meditation, yoga, massage: these things do more than just promote healing of the body and mind.
Savor the Sweet Moments
A major cause of stress for many people is moving around too quickly and feeling as though there is never enough time to get through their daily tasks. Reduce your own stress by slowing down a little and taking a break to think about something that makes you happy. Take a walk and soak in your surroundings. Capture a mental image of a pretty tree you saw, or listen to the sounds of the birds chirping. Go out and remind someone how much you appreciate them, or think about something you said or did recently that made a stranger smile. In fact, actively try to make other people smile; it will do you a world of good inside. It is the little moments and memories like these that can make each day a bit brighter, if you allow them to do so.
Freedom of the mind and spirit comes from taking care of yourself and remembering to appreciate beauty when you see it. Always have a plan (or multiple plans if that suits you) but never be afraid to step away and look at the sun, even if only for a moment. Put that energy to good use; find your inner peace, whatever it may be.