Mental Health

How to Not Let Stress Get the Best of You

posted on November 6, 2019 | by Kelley Matney

How to Not Let Stress Get the Best of You

Stress is an inevitable part of life. With our careers, family, relationships, finances, and so much more on our plate we constantly have a million things on our minds; our to-do lists can feel never-ending. This doesn’t even include all the things that are bombarding us from the outside world, like natural disasters, climate change, the next presidential election, you name it!

There is nothing we can do to avoid stress altogether but there are things we can do to navigate stressful moments in a healthier and more positive way.

It’s cliché but get moving

Some things are cliché for a reason. One of the most common pieces of advice you will see to dealing with stress is to exercise. Now, sometimes the thought of going to the gym fills me with even more stress. So, the idea here is to really just move your body; whether that’s going to a yoga class, taking a walk around your neighborhood or a 15-minute dance party around your apartment. Elle Woods wouldn’t lie; endorphins make you happy. But really, moving your body in some shape or fashion can help you focus and improve your mood.

Write it down

If you are someone who journals regularly you know that writing down all the things moving around in your brain can help clarify emotions you are feeling, decisions you are trying to make and so much more. Don’t fret though if you aren’t, I’m not going to suggest taking up the habit, I know journaling isn’t for everyone. So, if you don’t journal, in moments of stress, take a piece of paper or open your laptop and just write for 5 to 10 minutes. It can be a to-do list or just a stream of consciousness. I find after I’ve written down all the things that are floating around in my head it feels like a weight off my shoulders, it takes relieves some of the pressure you are feeling.

Get out of your routine

When I am super stressed, I find it helps me to have something to look forward to. For example, I bought a ticket to go a see a local theater production of Little Shop of Horrors last Wednesday night. First of all, I specifically booked it on a weeknight so I would have something fun and exciting to break up the stress of the work week. Secondly, it is one of my favorite musicals, so the excitement and anticipation carried me through several weeks. When I say get out of your routine it doesn’t need to be as big as tickets to a show, it could be grabbing coffee with a friend you don’t see as often, trying out a new restaurant, cooking a new recipe (only if that’s something you enjoy no need to add stress to your plate) or treating yourself to a movie night at the theater with all the fixings (aka snacks and treats).

Tell Someone

I find this one helps in a similar way that writing it down does. Just telling someone what you are feeling takes some of the pressure off. I think it’s particularly helpful to tell someone not directly involved in what is causing you stress, for example, a parent (if they have healthy boundaries, sometimes parental pressure adds to stress), a friend, roommate, co-worker, etc. I have a friend who doesn’t live in the same city as me and I find it helpful to talk to her when I am stressed, for one, she is a good listener; two she is objective. She is generally not involved in any of these situations and can sometimes offer advice or perspectives I would never have thought of.

Talk to a professional

I am a big proponent of therapy. Let’s break down the stigmas people. Everyone can use someone objective to talk to about their issues and concerns. It’s especially productive when this person has been professionally trained to help you work through them and come up with solutions. Just because you see a therapist doesn’t mean “something is wrong with you.” Sometimes stress is just that, a temporary state due to demanding circumstances, but sometimes it is more than that and there is nothing wrong with needing a little help.

What are some ways that you have found help you de-stress?