Friday, May 18, 2018

10 Ways to Manage Stress

STRESS - something no one wants or needs in their lives. Regardless, it's there, popping up in unexpected places and waiting jubilantly to take our once calm day to new heart pounding heights in a matter of seconds.

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We've all experienced stress, and at each new stage in our life we are faced with something new to overcome. I believe that for the most part stressors are objective. What we may sweat about our friends and family might not even bat an eye over, and it can make us feel like we're alone (you're NOT) in dealing with whatever is going on, especially when you're told "it's all in your head". This is definitely not always the case, but the feeling can be there.

Like anyone else, I've had my share of stressors, everything from worries about friends in school, to getting into college, purchasing my first new car, guys, mean girls, finals week (I lived in Club Alkek, our library those weeks, dishes be damned), paying bills, runner's knee, new gym machines etc.. The list could go on, but I won't bore you. I can be a bit of  a "worrier", and I work hard to try as many new things as possible to get over it, and it helps a lot. That said, since stress is always going to be present in some form, the best thing we can do is find ways to manage them so they don't win.

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I took up running to combat stress stemming from a bad relationship. It let me think through what was going on. It took awhile, but three years and 11 half marathons later the guy is long gone and the running is still going strong. 

BMX has been a lifelong love of mine that I picked back up after a (much too long) hiatus. I wanted to come back to the sport a few years before I actually did; I was worried I wouldn't be able to compete anymore. After a friend of mine and fellow racer passed away I realized that life is too short to give in to that worry. Also, remember that you are NEVER too old to start something new. I started back and love everything about it, including the positive community.


But not cake, don't go the cake route. 


How I Manage My Stress


Below are 10 of my favorite things I've done to help manage my stress. While some of the things I do aren't groundbreakingly original, they work for me and I hope they can give you some ideas to incorporate in your own stress management.

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1. Take up a sport (or two)


A good way to help lower stress is to participate in a sport, any sport. It can be a team sport like basketball or soccer, or more of a solo sport like running or cycling (you can still be on a team with these, but your scores/times are your own unless they are being averaged for a competition). Training to reach a new goal gives a sense of feeling proud and capable, and it's an AWESOME feeling to accomplish something once thought unreachable. Also, hanging out with supportive, positive people who love the same sport is always a plus. I've made lifelong friends that way.

2. Work out


Stressed at work or school got you feeling like 90's Brittany? I love to channel my stress/anxiety into a good sweat session. Exercise is good for so many things, including mental fitness, as well as mood elevation and improving sleep. The good thing about working out is that you can do it pretty much anywhere- it doesn't have to be at a gym. Don't get me wrong, I love my gym, but sometimes I just don't feel like going, and I choose to workout at home or a park.

3. Go somewhere calm


Sometimes I like to de-stress by going off by myself and finding a beautiful place to sit and just appreciate the view. Sitting under the backyard patio, looking at the flowers and butterflies and trees works. I also love to sit anywhere by the water, there's something serene about it and I can zone out for a bit or read.

4. Talk to a friend or family member


Find a trusted friend or family member to talk to about what's stressing you out, most likely they've been there at some point or they can empathize with the issue. It's great to talk about it, because you can get what's bugging you off your chest as well as possibly see a new solution or idea to your problem.

5. Yoga!


Yoga is not only calming, but you get more flexible, and who doesn't want that? While I unfortunately don't unroll my yoga mat and towel as much anymore, I absolutely LOVED doing yoga. You can go to a yoga class, or if you are a struggling college student like I was, You Tube has so many free classes. Click here for one of my favorites one of my favorites. She's had her channel for a long time, is really good and has free classes from beginner to advanced. There's also Yoga Glo, which is like the Netflix of yoga. A massage is always a good plan as well if you aren't feeling the yoga. 😃

6. Research


After having been a student for so long, I love research. If I'm stressed out by something but don't know a whole lot about it, I research it. I try to learn as much as I can about it, and the more "expert" I become in the subject, the less stress it causes me. Just don't look up illness symptoms on medical websites. Those scary illnesses that come back off symptoms (ex. fever, muscle aches and chills) are just plain scary and ridiculous.

7. Volunteer


Take your mind off some things causing you stress by simply giving back to a good cause. You can volunteer anywhere. I have volunteered at a homeless shelter, a library, trash pickup with a group of friends, helping a senior citizen clear out her yard, hydration stations at runs, etc. It always feels good to give back, and you feel appreciated and happy in return. There are so many places to volunteer. If you are interested in volunteering, go to that place's website or simply give them a call. If you're interested in volunteering at a run, many have a place to sign up on their website, but if they don't just send them an email.

8. Learn something new


It's always good to learn something new. I feel that if I'm overstressed in one area of my life, I benefit by focusing on a new topic (for awhile, NOT to completely avoid life). I love to go to the library and check out a book I find interesting, try a new craft idea, or take a class. Getting out of your head and into a new mindset for a while can calm you down, and you might even think of a new idea or way to handle what's stressing you!

9. Time management/diary


Time management is a big one. It stresses me out and overwhelms me when I have so many things to get done in the day but nowhere to keep track of them. I've recently begun to start again with my Believe training journal. I love how it's set up and I can write the date in, my training, mileage, notes about how I felt that day or how healthy I ate, as well as appointments and meetings. I have also been wanting to keep a habit checklist as inspired by Colleen Quigley. We'll see how that goes.

10. Reach out for help


If you feel that you're stress is beyond what you can do to manage it, ask for help. It's always fine to ask for help and to admit when you're not okay. The type of help will differ depending on your stressor. For example, a tax advisor to help you with taxes, a counselor to talk to about personal issues, etc. We can't always handle everything on our own!

What stresses you out and how do you handle it? 

2 comments:

  1. This is a good article. Stress is a huge thing. Learning to deal with stress is hugely important. Thanks for sharing these tips. A while back I wrote about how life stress can impact training if you want to check it out. http://www.amysaysso.com/2018/01/24/stress-is-stress/

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    1. Hi Amy! I'm sorry it took me a little while to get back to you, it's been a hectic couple of days (talk about stress lol). I read your article too and I really like it! I very much agree with you that emotional stress can have a very real, and sometimes lasting, physical impact. Stress can cause exhaustion and that definitely has an impact on training. I remember how some days when I am super stressed I would just rather sleep. Hopefully you had a great (and stress free!) weekend. :)

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