The following is a contributed post.
Many of us dream about living a life that is completely free of stress. Social media and celebrity culture partially have a role to play in why so many people have an ideal in their mind of how their lives should look – calm, collected and with everything running smoothly 24/7. What a lot of us forget, however, is that looks can be deceiving. Celebrities have a whole team of staff behind them to help them get their lives together, from a stylist and beautician to get them always looking their best to the highest quality childcare services to home-school their kids while they’re out on errands. A similar notion goes for social media, as people only post what they want other people to see. Behind every successful business woman on Instagram is a woman who has still had to deal with her child’s tantrum, walk the dog and somehow find five minutes to scoff some toast and peanut butter, all by 8 am. But, all that doesn’t sound particularly glamorous does it? By being aware of the facade that social media and celebrity culture portrays, we can take some of the pressure off ourselves and thus start to deal with our own stress in a much more productive way. Here are some of the ways you can learn to manage your own stress and to deal with all the things life can throw at you, for a happier and more wholesome way of living.
Don’t stress about your stress
This might seem ironic, but you would be shocked at a number of people who get wound up about stress itself! So many of us see stress as a highly negative emotion and tell ourselves that successful people don’t get stressed at all. Firstly, the most important thing to remember is that stress is something that happens to all of us, and that feeling it doesn’t automatically mean you have failed in any way. It is a natural human emotion and, in situations of intense pressure, it is the only way many of us know how to react. So, with that in mind, don’t beat yourself up about your stress – it will only make things worse. Instead, acknowledge your stress but make the decision to not rise to it. Say to yourself ‘I am aware I am feeling stressed, but I am not going to be angry about it’. Instead, put your nervous energy into ticking things off your to-do list, one by one. As you do so, you will feel the stress melt away, and you will also feel proud of yourself for staying calm.
They say ‘fail to prepare and prepare to fail,’ and in many cases, this can be very true. If you know that you have a stressful time in your life coming up – maybe an exam, or an awkward family reunion – you can take some steps towards guaranteeing that it will go as well as is possible. Start preparing for it in good time, as leaving it until the last minute will only mean that you end up rushing, which is sometimes all it takes to induce a stress meltdown. If the situation at hand is an exam, for example, begin your revision early, even if it’s just a little bit at a time. You may also want to take some steps towards making sure that your physical and mental health is going to be in peak condition ahead of the stressful event you have to face, so that you don’t have yet another thing to worry about when it happens. For some women, their time of the month can be a particularly testing time, and it can be an issue if it coincides with another stressful time in their life. Thankfully, you can delay your period with the prescription medication norethisterone, so if you are due to be ‘on’ during your exam or family reunion, you can push it back a week. Also consider making some positive changes to your diet and engaging in something like mindfulness, so that when the stressful event arrives, you are more than ready to deal with whatever it throws at you.
Avoid stimulants and depressants
Coffee, alcohol, cigarettes…. three things that play a huge role in many people’s lives on a day to day basis. But could they be making you even more stressed? Coffee acts as a stimulant (because of the caffeine in it), alcohol is typically a depressant and Nicotine is both a stimulant and a sedative all wrapped into one. These strange effects mean that all three of these things are drugs, despite being normalized in today’s modern culture. To an already stressed-out mind, they can easily be the straw that breaks the camel’s back. Make a point of avoiding them completely if you know you are prone to stress, or at least cut back on them a little bit. It might be hard at first, especially if you are dependent on some of these things. But in the long run, you will find that giving them up has a truly positive impact on your life.
Talk to someone
They say that a problem shared is a problem halved… and bottling up all your stress can be very problematic indeed. When you are running a household, taking care of young children and trying to build a successful career all at once, it’s very easy for life to get on top of you. Make sure you have a good friend by your side who you feel comfortable talking to – sometimes, just having a bit of a rant can be incredibly therapeutic! Or, if you feel your problems with stress are a little more serious, you may want to consider going to see a counselor or another type of mental health professional. Having a designated space where you can air your grievances will mean you avoid bringing all that stress back into the home with you, and overall makes for a much happier living environment.