+ A Free Template to Create Your Own Steps to De-Stress
This is a difficult topic for me and many other people alike. Stress can be good in some situations, but too much of it can tear you apart. I struggle with stress on a daily basis and it is a constant battle to get myself to stop and take a deep breathe and realize that what I am worrying about isn't going to matter 5 weeks, 5 months, or 5 years from now. I am nowhere near perfect with dealing with stress, in fact, I am awful with dealing with stress, but I am learning and getting better at handling my stress little by little. Below, I am listing the 5 steps I take to de-stress. These are steps that work for me, and I hope they can work for you, but I will still be the first to say that handling stress is a choice. You have to make a constant decision to be proactive about reducing stress. I can read endless amounts of suggestions about ways to de-stress, but I can't implement any suggestions until I make an active choice to work on my stress and make handling stress a part of my daily routine.
1. First thing is first, I identify what triggers my stress
If you know what causes your stress, it is easier to stop your stress or lessen it. Some of these stress triggers can be avoided by switching your lifestyle choices. For example, a lack of sleep causes me to be more emotional and stressed the next day due to exhaustion. I can fix this by making sure I get 8 hours of sleep a night. Other triggers are unavoidable, such as a difficult exam coming up, financially hard times, or a stressful life event. For unavoidable triggers, I try to acknowledge what specific aspect of the trigger causes my stress. Sometimes, I realize that it isn't the exam that is stressing me out, but it is the fear of failing and not meeting expectations. Once I identify this, I can think back to a time when I did fail and acknowledge that I survived and became a better person from that failure. It helps to remind myself that I ended up exactly where I am supposed to be in this moment. With that reminder, I end up feeling more confident about the exam and am able to de-stress enough to study with a clear head and pass the exam.
2. I brainstorm activities that relax me
Having clear and defined activities that de-stress you is like having a go-to outfit for when you don't know what to wear. We can't always avoid the things that cause us stress. I get stressed out when I am in a crowd for too long or am running late for an event. Sometimes these situations are unavoidable, so I have to know ways to de-stress before my stress bubbles over. For example, I love to cook at the end of a stressful day because cooking forces me to slow down and breathe as the food cooks. I also know that playing with my dog relaxes me and takes my mind off of what I was stressed about.
3. I write out a personalized list of relieving activities
Once you know what activities relax you, make a list of some activities that distract you from stress or help you calm down. Include activities that range in length. Find some activities you can do in the car, during your lunch break, or quickly at work. Find a few activities that you can do before you start your day or at the end of the day that last a little longer and can help you reset your mind. For example, my list would look something like this:
4. I implement this list into my daily routine
I find it really helpful to incorporate at least one of these activities into my daily routine. I have found that doing these BEFORE I am stressed helps me keep my stress level much lower when stressful situations arise. For me, this is the hardest part of managing stress. I know what activities help me manage stress, but am guilty of making excuses for why I can't do those activities in the heat of the moment. I will tell myself I don't have time, it would be a waste of time, or it won't help. In reality, when I force myself to step away from a stressful event and do an activity that de-stresses me, I end up wasting less time because I then have a clearer mind to focus and I can breathe.
5. I forgive myself
I know that I am going to have good days and bad days regarding how I handle my stress. The most important thing is to remind myself that I do not have to be perfect. Little amounts of success are still a success. If I have a stressful day but managed to take a step back and try and relieve my stress, that is a win in my book. If I have a stressful day and it doesn't get better, I don't take it a loss, I take it as an opportunity to go to bed and wake up with a fresh start. The more that you realize you are allowed to be imperfect and screw up a few times, the more that you can celebrate the successful moments you do have.
I know that stress is not just a "me" thing, and I find that talking with other people about how they handle stress ends up helping both of us. I would love to hear your favorite way to de-stress in the comments below. (The comment submission form is only visible if you're reading this from a computer!) I really encourage you to take the time to comment below, because your comment can help someone else stress a little less today by reading and implementing your suggestion.
If this resonated with you, download my free template that walks you through identifying your stressors and finding solutions to handle your stress.
Thanks for reading and I hope this helped at least one of y'all today.