I know, this isn’t exactly news.
We all struggle with it, we all want less of it… and yet, no matter what we do, it’s still an unavoidable part of our lives. When stress pours itself onto your life it doesn’t care if you’re ready not.
Stress can turn lovely people into shitty human beings.
It’s hard to be a considerate and likeable person when your brain is short circuiting and your body feels like it’s on fire and/or turning into stone. It’s not fun for anyone.
So if stress sucks so much then what can we do about it?
Unfortunately we can’t control all of the stressful situations in our lives.
But there are several things we can do to make them more manageable.
1- Stop Saying Yes to Shit That You Hate
One of the best ways to avoid stress is to simply avoid putting yourself in it’s path.
For example: try not overloading yourself with bullshit that you hate doing!
Part of being an adult means that, in order to do the things we want, we have to do things that we don’t always like. Paying the internet bill might not be super fun but doing so allows you to use the power of the internet to watch all the porn or funny animal videos your heart desires. Going to dentist isn’t what you would call “enjoyable” but having teeth that perform the functions you require of them is pretty fucking awesome.
Still, there are likely some extra superfluous things that are eating up your time and energy.
It might make you feel a bit selfish to say no to a friend who wants a favour, or to an extra project at work, but it’s important to respect yourself and your own time. You don’t have to accept every request that is made of you and your time.
Sometimes you just need to say no or file it under “not my fucking problem”.
2- Take a Damn Nap!
When things become stressful it’s super important to make sure you get enough sleep!
This can be frustrating though because stress has a tendency of making us sleep really screwy.
It can keep us from falling asleep and it can also lower the quality of sleep that we do get. And sometimes when we’re stressed out we opt to trade in sleep for more time to tackle tasks in hopes that it will lower our stress levels (which it very rarely actually does).
If you need to supplement your sleep… take a damn nap!
You may have just said to yourself “but I don’t have time for a nap”. Don’t be an idiot.
If stress can turn lovely people into shitty human beings, then adding insufficient sleep on top of that means you’ve a got recipe for disaster.
Taking 5-30 minutes for a wee snooze isn’t going to prevent you from kicking ass. In fact, taking a nap will increase the efficiency in which you kick the ass! Remember: being an adult means you get to naps whenever you want.
3- Get Moving
In stressful times, our practice/workout routine is often the first thing on the chopping block…
but these are the times that we need it the most! Stay physically active, even if you feel like you don’t have the time. And if you don’t have a practice/workout routine then get one.
Physical activity is very closely related to mental wellbeing.
Exercise gives you a nice healthy dose of endorphins. Endorphins do a lot of wonderful things for us! In the stress department, they help regulate our mood, sleep, and sex drive. Free happy drugs, good sleep, and a healthy libido?! Can I get a fuck yeah?!
A physical practice can also have the same benefits as meditation.
It can be rhythmic and soothing which can help calm the mind and, even if only for a short period of time, it can take our mind off of whatever is eating at us. Often, at the end of a practice, tackling stressful issues is less… well… stressful!
Want to get started right now? You can with these two free Rage Yoga videos!
The mind and breath are like siamese twins.
Despite being separate things they are still connected and one can’t help but affect the other. The breath is slow, deeper and rhythmic in someone who is relaxed. However, when stress triggers our fight-or-flight response, the breath gets real weird! It often become shallow and irregular. It might speed up or slow down so much it almost stops. The body does this automatically without waiting for the brain’s approval.
This mind-breath connection is a two way street.
That means that you can use your breath to essentially “hijack” your mind. If you’re feeling stressed out then try taking some time to just chill the fuck out and breathe!
Try starting with this abdominal breathing exercise.
5- Be. Here. Now.
Don’t lose yourself in the chaos!
Similar to how we lose control over our breath when we are stressed, we also lose control over our ability to be present in the moment. When we are stressed life seems to just whirl by us while we are stuck in the middle of a tornado of chaos, paralyzed, confused, terrified….
When our thoughts pick up speed and start whirling around it can be hard to focus on what’s really right in front of us. By bringing our attention back to our surroundings, and really being present, we can ground ourselves and avoid being swept away by the chaotic brain tornado.
There are many different methods to staying grounded and present.
We’ve already talked about some of them, like physical practice and breath exercises! Another awesome method is the 5 Sense Grounding Exercise.
6- List Some Things That Don’t Suck
Some might refer to it as gratitude…
But sometimes, when you’re struggling, the word “gratitude” might just make you want to throw up in your mouth. So perhaps start small by simply listing the things that don’t suck!
I picked up a new book. It doesn’t suck.
There’s chocolate in the house. That doesn’t suck.
I got to pet a puppy. That didn’t suck either!
If you spend a couple seconds thinking about each of the non-sucky things then they start to build momentum. It starts being fun and you might shift from “not sucking” to a genuinely grateful mindset!
Try it out. It’s not the worst.
Keep these tools in your back pocket and try them out the next time you’re faced with a stressful situation!
And remember: you’re a badass.
“Don’t underestimate the value of Doing Nothing, of just going along, listening to all the things you can’t hear, and not bothering.”
-Winnie the Pooh