5 Ways To Help You Cope With Stress & Anxiety
Posted on August 08 2018
If I was asked to write this even just five years ago, I would have said the best way to cope is to ignore it; burrow under the covers, take a nap, and pretend all is right with the world. Older and wiser as I am now, I will tell you this is not a solution in the least. At the moment it feels right but, when you wake up the stressors are still ever-present and whatever deadline is drawing nearer. Depending on the situation, the stressors can even get worse when you put them off.
There is no single sure-fire way to cope with all forms of stress and anxiety. Each situation is unique in its own right and should be handled as such. Here are a few methods I’ve found through trial and error to help in a wide range of different scenarios:
1. Write It All Out
Sometimes stress/anxiety comes from being overwhelmed at having a lot on our plates. In this case, I’ve found making a physical list (either by hand or on a smart device) can be quite helpful. When there are so many things to do mentally floating around in your head it can seem like the list is never ending- impossible to handle. When it’s written down, even if there are 30 things “to do” you can at least see there is an end. There’s also something cathartic about crossing off (or deleting) tasks as you complete them. You can tackle the most doable things first, or most time sensitive. Each one you complete is a little victory and you feel the chains of anxiety fall off one by one.
On the other hand, sometimes stress/anxiety is triggered by a situation, not necessarily tasks to be completed. In this instance writing out your feelings (whether you decide to keep them for future reference or burn/rip them up for your own type of therapy) can help release the pent up negative energy. I like to call this type of “writing it out” a mind dump; similar to Mean Girls’ word vomit, but not out loud.
2. Breathe & Meditate
I was actually told to breathe through my anxiety back when I was about 18 and dealing with a lot of anxiety about the future, but I was never really guided in how to properly do so until I was taking birthing classes a couple years ago. Obviously, the method I learned then was for labor, but I’ve used it ever since whenever it seems I’m treading water that is rising too quickly. It’s very simple; breathe in through your nose for four slow counts (think Mississippi), then out for four slow counts. Repeat until you feel more in control of yourself. I lumped mediation in with this one because it helps at times to focus on something that brings peace to you whether it’s a serene ocean scene with the waves breaking under the sunset or just the steady beating of your own pulse.
3. Get Up & Be Active
Ms. Elle Woods in Legally Blonde taught us all seven years ago that exercising releases endorphins and endorphins make you happy. Exercising comes in all different forms- some people like to run several miles (aka torture), others (like myself) like to lift some weights mixed in with some cardio in the style of circuit training, still others prefer lighter forms of exercise like yoga (which is no joke-I’ve taken yoga classes that kick your butt). There are so many different forms of exercise to try that can help with coping with stressors/anxiety especially when they are out of your control. Even just getting on the floor and doing some stretches can be helpful. Get that blood flowing, release those endorphins!
4. Choose A Creative Outlet
This one may not be for everyone, I know some of my friends get stressed out thinking about being creative, but it’s worth a try if you’re struggling! Sometimes just switching your mind to something else can be helpful (as long as your stress isn’t caused by a time crunch). Writing a short story, songwriting, crafting, painting, drawing, even destroying something- the possibilities are endless. This creative outlet can be inspired by your stressors or completely unrelated. Sometimes it helps to be inspired by the struggle you’re going through; in the example of writing a short story, maybe the hero/heroine conquers a major obstacle you are currently grappling with. Other times it’s more helpful to completely disconnect from it for the time being; writing a short story of rainbows, butterflies, and happily ever afters.
5. Pamper Yourself
In my opinion, any excuse for a good pampering is never something to shy away from. Whether you go get a mani/pedi, a massage, or stay at home and do a simple face mask taking a moment to care for yourself can help soothe your worries. JUNIPER and YU has a plethora of beauty products to help with this task. I myself have used the ORGAID sheet masks to help with relaxation. With a toddler at home I rarely get a moment to myself, but when I was in dire need of a moment to clear my mind my husband took my son out while I drew myself a warm bubble bath and laid with one of these decadent masks infusing my face with nourishment, bringing me back to life. I came out feeling like a revitalized woman.
Through years of experiencing normal stress and anxiety, these are just a few of my personal favorite ways I’ve found to cope. It’s important for you to try different methods and find whatever works best for you personally. A bonus sixth method I use when nothing else seems to be working- sit in my car by myself with the doors closed and scream at the top of my lungs once or twice imagining all the toxic energy leaving my body with the scream. Sometimes things are just out of your control, but your voice is not.
I am not in any way a medical professional, so if you have an imbalance that needs further attention please make sure you get it. I’m always interested in other people’s strategies for coping with things. What are some helpful ways you handle stress and anxiety in your own life? Would love to know in the comments below!