Stress. It comes in many different forms and for so many different reasons. Problems with work, relationships, finances, physical or emotional trauma are the most common triggers these days. Although I don’t profess to be an expert, I am (like most people) experienced. I have dealt with some pretty major stress throughout my life and I have learned a few helpful hints to not only help me deal with it in the moment, but to help get me past it. Here are my top 5!
- Don’t Deny Your Feelings. For me, this is a BIG one! It’s probably the most important. Denying your feelings is basically like refusing to put out your garbage every week. It piles up, gets messy and starts to stink up your everyday life. Take time every day to assess your mental and emotional state and if something is bothering you, acknowledge it. Acknowledgement will lead to acceptance, and acceptance will lead to healing. Don’t let it pile up like yesterday’s trash.
- Act Quickly and Swiftly. When you feel your stress level starting to rise, don’t ignore it. The sooner you acknowledge that you are starting to feel overwhelmed the easier it will be to handle. The longer you wait the worse it will get. Don’t let yourself “redline”. Go to the bathroom, take a longer lunch or go sit on a park bench and take a few minutes to yourself to “let it out”. Wherever you would have time alone and are able to allow yourself to process your emotions, go there.
- Talk to Someone. Most of us have our “person” that we can talk and vent to about or problems, which is great! There is nothing more comforting than knowing you can call your person any time of the day or night, or sit and enjoy a nice bottle of red wine and know they will listen intently. Sometimes though, our best pals don’t always have the answer or don’t know the right thing to say so my advice is, see a councillor. I don’t mean a Psychiatrist that is just going to put a band-aid over your problems and pump you with medication. I’m talking about a counsellor – someone who knows the right questions to ask in order to help you navigate through your emotions and allow you the opportunity to realize the root of the problem on your own. Dig deep and find the real source so you can begin to fix it.
- Don’t be Ashamed! There is an enormous stigma surrounding mental health in general and especially the term “getting help”. It has somehow become a very ugly phrase that has such a negative connotation. But why? As I mentioned above, sometimes it’s just a matter of talking to the right person. It doesn’t mean there’s anything really wrong with you. My early twenties were pretty tough and after a lot of consideration, I finally went to talk to a counsellor and honestly, it’s not that bad! Something that was eating away at me for a year was dealt with in 2 one hour visits. That’s it! At the time, being 21 years old with an ego too big to manage, I would turn my nose up at it but it made a world of difference! Needless to say I was blown away by how 2 short conversations with a stranger totally improved my quality of life. Everyone can use a little guidance from time to time and there’s no reason to feel bad about it; nobody’s perfect, regardless of what their Facebook page looks like.
- Try Meditation! Two years ago I participated in an 8 week Transcendental Meditation course. The teacher explained the importance of meditation by drawing a comparison between our mind and our digestive system. Seems odd, but it actually does make sense. From the second you wake up, til the moment you go to sleep at night, your brain is inputting information and is constantly stimulated by your surroundings. Your cell phone, TV, family members, co-workers, magazines, advertisements, the morning and evening commute, etc., and your mind needs time to process all of this information much like your digestive system needs to process your food after a meal. Not meditating is like eating all day and never going to the bathroom. Can you imagine what that would be like?! Your mind needs time to digest the information it takes in, and meditation is a great way to do that. It seems silly and useless at first to sit there in silence with your eyes closed and focus on the feeling in your hands or the timing of your breath. But at first you won’t even be able to do it. Right away, you will see how quickly your mind pulls your focus away and starts racing from one thought to the next. That is when you will realize you have virtually no control over your own mind. You’ll realize how much cr@p is in there and that maybe it’s time to get rid of some of it.
Stress is always going to find a way to creep into your life and finding productive ways to deal with, process and eliminate that stress is vitally important. Once you take those first few steps to face it head on, it will gradually get easier to overcome.