When life gives you lemons, just add vodka (or in my case, tequila), right? Not so fast! I am all for indulging in your favorite past times when stressed, however, I have learned when dealing with my own stressors and anxiety that going out for a wild night can only get you so far. Since I am having ‘a go of it’ this month (think interviews, major life decisions, traveling all over creation), I figured I would write a friendly reminder to myself and others on how to best cope with stress.
Oh how this girl loves to sleep! I am a 9-hour kind of gal, and I used to be able to sleep anywhere, anytime, at the drop of a dime. As I have gotten older, I have already seen how life’s effects on my sleeping habits are causing this talent to wane. However, proper rest is so important, especially during times of heightened stress. Your body does not stand a fighting chance (literally) against stress if you have not gotten a good night’s sleep. Hot baths, anything lavender scented (my favorite way to use essential oils), and sometimes the occasional OTC sleep aid find their way into my routine if I am restless. Friendly reminder for the general population: caffeine after 2 PM is typically not a good idea and can wreck havoc on your ability to get good shut eye.
Coming in at number two is nutrition. Usually when I am stressed, I want to chug caffeine (after 2 PM of course) and the thought of cooking a decent meal makes me cringe. Who wants to do dishes when they’re stressed?! But this is another important piece to keeping yourself in check and preventing a hissy fit on the kitchen floor…I speak from experience! Go ahead and get the grocery run over with and stock your fridge with options that are full of protein, healthy fats, and not a lot of sugar. Think swapping chips for a full fat cheese stick. The protein and fat (guacamole, anyone?) will nourish your body and your brain. If you must have something sweet, try to limit consumption and pick an alternative like dark chocolate or berries (I personally like this combo together), both which have benefits to them that extend beyond their sugar content. Sugar + stress can send you straight to the looney bin and/or the doctors office. So steer clear!
I am really getting annoying, no? Truth be told, exercise can either be the last thing I want to do or the only thing I can think about when I am stressed AF. I am either forcing myself to put on exercise pants or dreaming of boxing until I can’t breathe anymore. There is no in between. Speaking of boxing, finding a sport that speaks to you is so important to loving exercise. If I can’t box, I also love tennis and running on the beach around sunset. These are my favorite ways to get out of the gym and be a little distracted, all while reaping the benefits of exercise (which are too many to name here). Remember not to push yourself too hard, it will only make your situation worse.
Sometimes all it takes to relieve stress is a good venting sesh, a little laughter, and maybe a few tears (laughing until you cry totally counts). These are all part of the process and you should not prevent them from happening. Calling friends and family (hi, mom!) or making a point to meet up with your people is so crucial during a time of stress. It is so easy to stay inside and keep everything bottled up–and sometimes that’s exactly what I want to do–but I always feel better after talking it out. I am also pro-therapist, or getting an unbiased opinion from a professional that has pretty much seen it all. Either way, you only have good things to gain from letting it go.
- TAKE IT EASY
This seems sort of contradictory when you are in the middle of a crisis, but I have found that taking it easy is one of the best pieces of advice you can get. Our brain and our bodies react differently during stress, so you may not always be thinking with a clear head. To make matters worse, the lovely combination of stress and rushing turns me into the worlds biggest klutz, with the scars to prove it 😐 When it comes to making major life decisions, breakfast, or responding to a simple email: do not rush yourself. Take your time, really think about your communication, and be slow to react to others–you may need an extra minute to truly evaluate what they are saying or cool off your own jets. I am personally working on listening more and saying less in my private and work life. So far, I have a long ways to go!
If you are religious, then you were probably already praying about your situation before it exploded right in front of you. We tend to pray as things get really bad, and trail off as they start to get better (guilty). Even if you’re out of the woods, keep at it, because I truly believe it provides a certain mental clarity that can only come from prayer. Practicing prayer and meditation can change your life, but it will require your undivided attention and an open heart. I am still working on finding my own routine, but I do notice that devotionals or daily inspirational quotes (seems so cheesy at first), help keep me on track.
I don’t know many people who really love cleaning in the first place (if you’re out there, maybe we should be friends), especially when there’s a million other things weighing on your mind. If you know me, cleaning is my least favorite thing to do. I prefer to make messes 🙂 When the job is done, however, I am always happy I did it. A clean environment equals a calm environment, and it will help you operate more efficiently. You will sleep better, eat better, and do better in a somewhat organized–versus chaotic–home. If you want to up the ante, you can eliminate blue light in your sleeping space (more about that here) for better rest, or try some aromatherapy to help you wake up. Cinnamon is known to help sharpen your mind, pine can alleviate stress, citrus can make you feel energized, vanilla can boost your mood, jasmine can help with depression (read: anxiety), rosemary can help fight mental fatigue…the list goes on!
- MAKE UP
This doesn’t just apply to girls, but it’s definitely more fun (or more of a pain, depending on how you view it) for us! You know the phrase “fake it ’til you make it”? Well, when I am really anxious or feeling out of sorts, this is something I have to employ. And one of the things that really helps me is to make myself up. If I look s**t, I often end up feeling that way, especially during stressful times. Doing my hair is a must, but when it comes to makeup, it varies on the day. The biggest players here typically involve under eye concealer, mascara, bronzer, blush and/or lip gloss. Pick a happy, rosy color or a bright red to look and feel better. Pair this with a semi-put together outfit and you will pass for a functional human being.
After your have tackled *most* of your to-do list, gotten some solid advice from your go-tos, and crafted a game plan for success, it is now okay to reward yourself and indulge in a few of your favorite things. Whether it be a spa treatment, a nice glass of wine, or a little retail therapy (or perhaps all three), you deserve it. If you can finally see a light at the end of the tunnel, go ahead and let loose. You survived! Your rewarding ritual serves as a reminder that this too shall pass. ‘I am going to be okay’ (new life mantra?) should be the phrase you are uttering at this point.
Now, I need to get back to my own list… xx Hannah