Have you ever had one of those weeks? Or maybe months? Years? One of those stretches of times that feels like a little bit too much?
In the spirit of honesty and transparency (two things I am a big advocate for, especially in the social media world), I spent the last week or so in the middle of one of those trials. I’m slowly climbing out of it, seeing the so-called light at the end of the tunnel, but that never makes it more fun.
So, it’s time for some #realtalk:
I get overwhelmed often. I cry easily, especially at the unexpected — anyone who has spent significant time with me can attest to this. I don’t handle teasing well. I get stressed too quickly, before I really have time to analyze if it’s worth getting stressed over at all.
Reading that description now, I’m actually a bit of a mess, aren’t I?
When I go through a particularly trying time, all of these less-than-ideal qualities about myself seem to heighten. I know I’m not alone in this, but when you’re feeling particularly crabby or mean, it’s really easy to think you’re just the meanest person in the entire world, and that adds an entirely new level of feeling rubbish.
(That said, I’d like to take a time-out to thank the people who deal with me in these situations. My boyfriend is a saint, my boss is an incredible mentor, and my best friends are wonderful cheerleaders. So, thank you. Intermission over.)
As I continue to grow in myself, and as I further learn who I really am, I’ve also come to learn techniques that work for me to deal with particularly overwhelming obstacles. Now, everyone’s different. What works for me might not work for you, but I wanted to take some time to share what I do to calm myself down and regain balance, focus, and control:
- Get some fresh air. This one actually comes courtesy of my boss, who has, in more than one stressed-out scenario, instructed me to go for a quick jaunt around the building. I’m trying to do this in more than just work circumstances, too. For example, yesterday I was growing increasingly frustrated at random things, so I put on my tennis shoes and hit the pavement. I pounded out a fast, lung-burning mile, and when I came back, I felt so much better. It’s amazing what even ten minutes of fresh air and an elevated heart rate can do.
- Eat something healthy. There’s this cultural impulse to reach for “comfort food” when the going gets tough. Now, don’t get me wrong. I believe in the healing power of chocolate and am incredibly grateful when the boy offers to order pizza after a particularly long day so I don’t have to cook. But sometimes those things just make me feel worse — now, on top of stressed, I’m bloated and greasy. Sometimes, depending on what my body wants, reaching for a gigantic, leafy, colorful salad makes me feel more in control, more energized, and generally better.
- Cry it out. Sometimes you’ve just gotta let it out. There’s such a strong emotional release that comes with crying, and I certainly need to just let that happen sometimes. Sure, the cat looks at me like I’m crazy as I empty the dishwasher with tears streaming down my face, but as soon as the tears have stopped, I feel instantly better. (Well, almost instantly. I sometimes have to take a nap first. Does crying make anyone else feel utterly exhausted?!)
- Vent. Whether it’s to a person, to a pet, to a diary, or to the random readers on the Internet. Letting out what’s getting you down can be incredibly cathartic, even if no resolution to your problem comes of it. In fact, 9 times out of 10, venting does nothing to solve anything, but it does make you feel better. This is one tip I’m trying really hard to get better at letting myself do. I tend to write off my own problems as silly or not that important. I tend to see that others have it much worse than me, so why should I complain? But, as the people who love me often remind me, it’s not necessarily complaining if it’s your truth, and your support circle is there to listen. Sometimes it’s just a matter of getting it off your chest.
- Trust. (Now, this can go many ways, depending on your beliefs or your faith or what have you, but remember, I’m talking about what works for me here.) I turn to God, and I pray for the strength to trust His plan. He knows where whatever trial I’m going through is leading me, and I just have to trust that He will see me through it. It’s certainly not the easiest process, and I’d be lying if I said it didn’t sometimes make it even more frustrating, as patience is not my strong point. But I do find that when I lay into that trust and allow Him to guide me, blindly, to what He has in store. Usually, when He gets me there, it’s so much sweeter than I ever could have imagined.
Like I said, I’m not trying to proclaim these as the end-all-be-all solutions for managing stress. But this is what works for me. As I’ve grown in myself, I’ve grown in these habits, too, and I am proud to say that (I think, at least) I handle stress significantly better now than I did, say, five years ago.
I implore you to find what works for you. And if you’ve already got a method for handling life’s madness, drop a note below! I’d love to hear what works for you.