Taking a Moment: How to Deal with Stress
Darkness. My eyelids flutter open as a heavy sigh escapes through my nostrils. I squint as my eyes adjust to the sunlight. The kitchen now smells like freshly brewed coffee; my favorite smell. A single bird's high-pitched chirp is finally echoed by it's mate. Abstract, leaf-like shadows dance around the floor. My dog, curled precariously on the ledge of the sofa, tucks her nose into her tail and gives off a faint snore. Oftentimes, I find myself way to concerned with what has happened and what will be that I can't manage a way to quiet my mind and absorb up what's happening now. I fight my thoughts and my worries as best as I can to focus on the present.
Life can be difficult and challenging at times. During these times I typically overwhelm my mind with more worry and more stress by over-analyzing and overthinking. I feel like I can't get out of my own head, that I'm trapped in my own thoughts, finding ways to contradict my own decisions as I am tossed around a nasty cycle. I have to find a way to pull myself out from the hole I'm in and find a way to relinquish all power.
I believe the way that we cope through times of weakness are the moments that make us stronger. It's important to take time to get away and find a way to relax, rejuvenate and remember how small our problems are in the grand scheme of things. Sometimes all you need are a few seconds to walk away and scream it out. Or maybe you're in need of a more serious detox, a way that really allows you to fully submit and know that you're not in control. Here are 10 ways that I have found help me combat stress and worry:
Everyone knows that working out makes you feel better. When I don't have time to schedule a yoga class or go to the gym, I like to go on a walk to get myself out of the house and breathing fresh air. Sometimes all I have are a few minutes to spare, so I'll do breathing exercises or get down on the floor and stretch. Just getting your body moving can help take your mind away from whatever task was making you more anxious. When I have the time, yoga is one of my go-to forms of relaxation. You can still your mind and focus on the present. I'll typically meditate or pray, and in less than half an hour I'll be in a better state of mind.
2. Treat yourself
Now this is a coping mechanism that I wouldn't suggest to everyone, but my favorite treat is a cookie. (DISCLAIMER: Don't gorge yourself in food because even as good as it tastes, food will not provide you happiness.) Find a treat that is special and that can give you an sugar uplift. Sometimes all you need is a small pick-me-up. I'll pour a cold glass of milk and sit down on the couch underneath a warm blanket and enjoy my cookie. But again, don't expect the cookie to change your life.
3. Drink a Cup of Coffee
Anyone who knows me knows that I couldn't live without my coffee. Coffee is a regular treat for me, I tend to have a few cups every morning and sometimes a decaf cup at night. I've always loved the smell and the taste of coffee. It helps me relax, and when caffeinated can help me feel energized. Again, I don't rely on coffee to make me feel better, but it's a small treat everyday that keeps me grounded.
I'm not much of a reader, but I'll flip through a Vogue any day you ask me to. To me, it's just as relaxing, and gives me a short break away from whatever I was doing before.
5. Do a Puzzle
Usually I'll do a puzzle when I'm really overwhelmed. I need something else to challenge my brain and distract myself from everything that is worrying me and focus completely on the now. When I don't have an actual puzzle to put together, I'll do the crossword or Sudoku in the newspaper. It's just as relaxing as watching TV, except you're actually using brain cells.
6. Call a friend
Nothing is more soothing to me than calling my sister when I'm upset or when I need advice. Something about her voice on the other side of the line is instantly reassuring and loving. Sometimes it's as simple as remembering that there is someone out there that loves you and can give you the support you need whenever you need it.
7. Take a bath
If you don't have a bath, take a shower. When I get hot and nervy and overwhelmed one of my favorite things to do is take a cold shower. When I need to relax and calm down, I'll take a hot bath. And it doesn't hurt to pour in some bubble bath, pour a bottle of wine and put on some classical music....
8. People watch
People watching is one of my favorite things. It helps me remember how little some of my own problems are when you start to see the world and look at people. I love to sit in a coffee shop or go to the mall and just watch people go by. You stop thinking so selfishly and start thinking about others.
9. Watch TV
Pop in a movie or watch a TV show that is sure to make you smile. Modern Family or New Girl are two of my current favorites, but I love a good drama like NCIS or Suits. If golf is on, I'm guaranteed watching golf. It's great background noise, or better if you want to take your mind off things and just forget. Don't rely on TV to fix your problems either, it's typically what I call a Band-aid fix. It just temporarily feels good. You'll face reality again as soon as the 30 minute show is over.
10. Find your therapy
Find a place that makes your soul happy, or even a place that challenges you but you know will make you feel good long-term. For me, the places I run to when I'm feeling low are therapy, church, my sister's house and the gazebo in my neighborhood. Maybe for you that place is the gym, the basketball court, your bedroom or a park. Find a place where you can sit down and think, talk, or scream out loud (Hey, we all need to scream it out sometimes). You can't always stuff your feelings, and sometimes what you really need is a secure place to let it all out.
Dress by Lou & Grey