Today is National Stress Awareness Day, something that I think is really important to acknowledge. Because stress is a national problem. I doubt there are many who DON’T suffer with stress to some degree on the regular basis. At its most extreme stress can be incredibly debilitating affecting both mental and physical health. Even mild cases of stress can change the course of the day. Yet, we live in a space where stress is accepted as a daily fact of life yet largely goes unnoticed.
I am no stranger to major stress and big changes in my life. For some reason, change and drama and upheaval follow me around. I’ve come to accept this is my life. But it doesn’t make the stress of major change any easier.
I have found a few techniques that help ease the stress a little. So whilst they might not be total problem-solvers, they can alleviate. And sometimes that gives you just enough space to breathe.
5 Ways To Deal With The Stress of Major Change
The old’uns are a good’un. But seriously, when I’m insanely stressed I find myself holding my breath a lot. It’s so weird. And helpful. How can my brain actually function at optimum strength if its not getting enough oxygen?! Doh. So yes, breathe. I do a simple counting of slow, deep breathes. This calms my mind enough to think through the stress.
2. WRITE IT ALL OUT
I have been known to lie in bed at night with my notes app open on my iphone tapping away all my thoughts. Just brain dump everything you’re thinking. It can be a list or just a stream of consciousness. Write down everything that is causing stress.
3. PLAN, PLAN, PLAN
As much as you can, plan ahead. If you know that major change is on its way try to plan for the stress levels. Reduce your other commitments where possible. Factor in relaxation time. And plan for as many consequences as you can. I find that planning ahead greatly reduces my stress.
4. TWENTY MINUTES WALKING
Whether you’re an exercise enthusiast or a couch potato, take a twenty minute walk every day. Outside. It must be outside. You need the fresh air and the vitamin D. Exercise helps send more oxygen to your brain, which is the organ dealing with your stress. Walking also helps to distract your mind. Try making your walk a mindful walk. Look up, take notice of the architecture, look for the birds. Take pleasure in the small details like the changing colour of the leaves. Or the crumbling bricks in a wall.
5. BE YOUR OWN BEST FRIEND
This is a key factor for me. I’m terrible at piling the work on and always feeling like I shouldbe doing something productive. I’ve learnt that in high stress times during major changes I have to be my own best friend. This mean being really really really kind to myself. It means knowing that I could spend the evening working… or I could say no, Elizabeth, you are going to make your favourite bowl of chorizo pasta, snuggle under the blanket and watch an episode of Poirot whilst wearing soothing face mask. It means, telling myself to say no to things that I know will add further pressure on myself. It means taking myself out when I need a break.
These five little tips to deal with stress have helped me though all kinds of major change, including moving house, changing jobs, being out of work, dealing with people etc etc. They sound simple. And maybe they are quite obvious. But I’ve found you do need reminding of the little things in order to deal with the great big stress stuff.
Over to you! What is YOUR favourite way to deal with stress?