April is Stress Awareness Month and stress awareness is something that is really important to me.
When I get stressed, my anxiety starts to get bad very quickly, and when my anxiety starts to get worse, I am at risk of spiraling and struggling. I work very hard to maintain a good balance, but it's not always easy. Stress affects us all in many different ways, and it's caused by many different things! I wanted to share some of my coping techniques, which I hope some of you will be familiar with, but if not, I hope they might help!
Write a list - What tends to happen, is my brain starts to fill, and then my internal bucket starts to fill, and once that overflows, I'm in dangerous territory. I always have various to-do lists on the go (At any time, I might have two separate notebooks, my diary, and lots of random bits of paper on the go, as well as a mindfulness journal to help me cope!) to keep on top of things. When things are feeling particularly strained, and I start to reach that panic mode, the best thing I find is to WRITE A LIST OF ALL OF THE THINGS. All of the things that are adding to that stress bucket. No matter how small, even if I already know how to fix it, even if its something that I know will resolve in a few weeks, get it on there.
Create an action plan - Okay so you've written your list, but what's next? The very act of writing the list, of removing those things from your brain, will help you feel better. But if you don't then do anything with it, it's not going to shift that stress indefinitely. You might not feel up to it straight away but you need to work through that list. First of all, work out what's within your circle of influence. Whatever isn't, you need to remove it from the list, because you can not do a thing about it. It can be hard to let go of those things, but once you make that shift, it really does help. Next, what can you work on? Write a plan of how you are going to tackle each item. As you start to do so, and you get a plan in place, you will start to feel lighter. And once you've actioned those things, you can tick them off, you will feel amazing!
Switch off - Be it from your phone, work, socialization, an unhealthy habit. Whatever it is, just give it a few hours or however much time you need. Have an evening off your phone, or take a step back from your busy diary. Turn the TV off and get outside.
Indulge - Light a candle, have a bath, make a really nice hot drink, wear your comfy PJs and socks all day. This last week, I worked so hard every day at my day job, at keeping the house going, at this stuff (y'know, my secondary job, the blogging, shop etc) and all of it, and so on Friday, even though I was working, and worked bloody hard, I decided I was going to have a totally indulged day. I got super cozy at my computer, I had some of my favorite hot drinks, I sat outside on my lunch break, and I felt so relaxed.
Get moving - Go for a walk, do some yoga, do a cardio workout. Whatever it takes. It will take your mind off things, it will make you feel better, and in some cases, it might help you work out a problem.
Get creative - I don't know about you, but I really switch off when I get my sewing machine out. Or when I'm cooking or writing. Get those creative juices flowing, it will soothe your mind and soul.
Talk to someone - I can't stress this one enough. Some days the load really is just too much. Some days you need to send a voice message to someone, just letting the whole lot out. There will be days when you need to speak directly to someone really specific because you know they are the ones that can give a certain level of support. There are the ones that will not judge you no matter what. Sometimes you need to talk through the things on the list we talked about above because as well as writing, them saying out loud can help add some sort of order to them. And there are days when only a professional will do, and when that time comes, taking the right action is really important.
There are lots of other ways to relieve stress, this is just what really helps me. Stress causes so many other issues, and a lot of the time it's avoidable and unecesseray. There are times this isn't the case, and that's when switching off and talking to others can really help. But for the most part, those little everyday stresses and overwhelm can be helped!