How To Navigate Stress: Tips For Your Anxious Thoughts
Stress. It's a loaded word that can bring on anxious thoughts just while reading it. When I see the word stress, my mind immediately moves to, "What is on my todo list? What have I already done and what do I need to still do?" I'm immediately searching for the places mentally and physically where I may have overlooked something or messed up.
For others, the word itself can bring up past mistakes or embarrassing moments that we can't fix. Stress looks and FEELS different for everyone and if you're finding it hard to let your anxious thoughts go, these tips may help. I've rounded up some strategies that work for me while also including some doctor-approved ideas to help you manage your stress, even during this pandemic.
The first thing you need to keep in mind: your feelings are VALID and you deserve to feel content/happy. You don't have to feel stress all of the time. You deserve peace even if that doesn't come easily for you. Once you have reminded yourself that you ARE WORTH IT, try one (or all) of these tips to help reduce, or even eliminate, your stress and anxious thoughts.
1.) Learn to feel your own breath.
Focus your attention on your stomach or upper chest and realize the sensations that come up when you breathe.
2.) Communicate with others.
This doesn't always have to be about your feelings (but bonus points if it is). Communicating with others via FaceTime, Zoom, 6ft apart meet-ups, etc. will make you remember you're not alone. There are other people who are there to help!
3.) Listen to your body and what it's telling you.
Try to get to the root source of why you're stressed. Are you unorganized? Do you need to actively move your body? Are you not feeding yourself correctly? Your body knows what it needs, sometimes your brain just tunes it out because it has other stuff to worry about. Give your brain a second to focus on what your body needs. Listen and then act correctly.
4.) Limit screen time.
During this pandemic, we've all been "logged on" for hours on end. Taking in news, social media posts, ads, and more. It's hard for our brains to process what is and isn't real through a screen. It's okay to stay informed, but try limiting yourself through the day if you can. Your stress will thank you for it.
5.) Get moving!
To help limit screen time, start moving your body, and shift your focus elsewhere. Go on walks, do a Youtube workout, anything to get your heart pumping.
6.) Make sure you're getting enough rest, but not TOO much rest.
Try to sleep anywhere between 7-9 hours at night and limit your naps during the day. Creating a schedule/routine can help you get a better nights sleep so you can remain active and alert during the day.
7.) Count to 10 and make a todo list.
Sometimes interruptions happen. Other times, not having ANYTHING to focus on is worse. Make a to-do list with actionable items to cross off throughout the day.
8.) Don't be afraid to hit "Add to Cart."
Everyone's budgets are all over the place right now with the economy fluctuating BUT don't forget to reward yourself. If you have it in your budget, don't be afraid to buy that shirt you've been eyeing. You deserve a treat!
9.) Focus on the big picture and MAKE yourself smile.
This won't all last forever. There are so many items that you can't control at this point in time that you need to make sure you're energy is focused on the items that you CAN control. Deep breathes, force yourself to smile, you've got this.
10.) Incorporate *small* habits during this time.
It can be overwhelming when you want to change everything at once, but research has shown time and time again that isn't sustainable. Little habits where you add one by one have a more lasting effect and your stress levels won't INCREASE, they will DECREASE.
11.) Don't be afraid to ask for help from friends, family, or a therapist.
Your friends and family will have your back (if they don't, they honestly aren't worth your time). If you feel awkward or don't want to "burden" anyone (this isn't an actual thing, but I know the feeling and this is a topic for another day) there are many resources, even during this time where everything seems closed, that can help. Please, please, please reach out before it's too late. You have so many people rooting for you.
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As the pandemic goes on and social media becomes harsher on our mental health, it's important to remember that we are all on our own journeys. There is no timeline, no specific way we all need to be feeling but learning to process your emotions and feelings is so important. I would LOVE to hear if you have other stress relievers that have worked for you. You can leave a comment below or shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. I would love to feature your thoughts and ideas in upcoming blogs and social media posts. I look forward to hearing from you soon!
You and your family are in my thoughts and prayers during this time. I hope you and your loved ones are all staying safe and healthy both phyiscally and mentally.