I'm not sure about you, but stress is very much a part of my everyday life.Stress has seemed to follow me since I was a child and it’s something I have dealt with my entire life. I absolutely hate saying this, but I don't know what life looks like without stress. It makes me sad to acknowledge this. It's not that I like being stressed, but it’s all I have ever known. I am used to it. It is a part of my daily routine and it has been a tough character flaw to release of mine. Stress is something I have clung to when I need to get something done. Stress is something I crave when I feel "unproductive". Sometimes, I even get high off the adrenaline rush of stress. It's insane. I hate it. If you are a type B person, you will probably have no idea what the heck I am talking about. If you are a type A person, you probably know EXACTLY what I am saying and this may hit you to your core.
Let’s talk about what the definition of stress is before we go into more detail. Wikipedia says that, “Stress is a feeling of strain and pressure.” Stress is a normal reaction in our bodies and when we get stressed, our bodies react in a “fight or flight” response which triggers cortisol levels to go up and puts strain on our adrenal glands. Stress, quite literally, puts strain and pressure on the body and nervous system. When we are stressed to finish an assignment, complete a project, run a mile, do the dishes, engage in an argument, or simply keep up with social media, it puts STRAIN AND PRESSURE on us. In small doses, like running a mile for example, stress can be beneficial; but for most of us, we are stressed out way more than we should be.
Much of my childhood was very stressful. I don’t remember many times as a child that I wasn’t stressed. I did not have a care-free childhood which meant that my body was used to experiencing a high amount of stress on a daily basis. I plan on publishing a whole piece on my health story but in short, all of the stress caught up to me and I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease, leaky gut, and adrenal fatigue at 19 years old.
I am the first to know how damaging stress is for the body, yet I still engage in the act of being stressed every single day. It’s like a drug that I cannot quit. I choose to over-extend myself, take on too much and put unnecessary pressure on myself in order to feel like an accomplished person. Feeling accomplished and feeling stressed go hand-in-hand for me and it’s taken me a long time to realize that it is not normal or healthy.
I think of stress like I think of grocery shopping. Little stressors add up just like I add items to my shopping cart. A new weekly commitment? Add it. A new goal to achieve? Add it. Someone else’s opinion? Add it. Something I SHOULDbe doing? Add it. A bed full of clothes to fold? (my current reality) Add it. Little stressors add up and up and I don’t even realize it until I am having a panic attack for no apparent reason. Do you ever find yourself at a grocery store with a cart full of items that weren’t on your list? That’s kind of how stress is, you add unnecessary stressors to your life without even realizing it until you have an overflowing cart. I know that I am not the only one who feels this way. There are people DYING everyday over stress-related illnesses. We need to get better at managing stress before it completely consumes us.
I am by no means an expert on managing stress but over the years I have developed a tool kit of things I do to manage my stress. I would encourage you to experiment with your own ideas and find things that work for YOU.
1. Check in with yourself: This is probably the best way that I am able to manage my stress because oftentimes I am dealing with stress and I don’t even realize it. Every morning check-in with yourself. How are you feeling? What do you have to accomplish that day? Are you anxious or overwhelmed in any way? Asking these questions to myself helps me to pay attention to any stressors in my life that I may need to get rid of. It also helps me gauge if I need to change anything in my daily schedule in order to not take on too much.
2. Take breaks: No matter what you have going on during your day, it is vitally important that you take 1-2 breaks to do absolutely nothing. Allow yourself to be “unproductive” for 10 minute increments and see how amazing you feel. My favorite way to take breaks during my day is by stopping everything I am doing to do a 10 minute meditation. Truthfully, I am not good at taking breaks and so this is one that I need to get better at!
3. Create Rituals: This has been a game changer for me. Creating rituals in my everyday life has allowed me to think less and be still more. I have a morning ritual to prime myself for the day, a nighttime ritual to prepare to rest, and a self-care ritual (sauna + drybrushing) that I aim to do every day to keep me balanced.
4. Tea: This may seem pretty minuscule but never underestimate the power of a cup of herbal tea. Sipping on herbal tea reminds me to slow down, to not take things so seriously, and to enjoy the simple things in life. Below I will list my favorite herbal teas. I try to sip on tea 2-3 times a day!
5. Un-freaking-plugging: you guys I cannot stress this one enough. Working entirely online keeps my stress levels high pretty consistently. I release so much stress and gain so much clarity when I put my phone on airplane mode for simply 3 hours. THREE HOURS. That’s it! Unplugging doesn’t mean you are disengaging from your phone for a week, it simply means you are giving yourself a little break. I am also not great at doing this but I aim to do it a couple of times a week and whenever I do, I feel SO GOOD.
Here are some other ways I treat stress:
-Going for an evening walk
-Swimming in the ocean
-Painting or doing a craft
-Talking about what I am feeling with my husband or a close friend
I truly hope this helps you find more balance and manage the stress in your life. My encouragement to you would be to implement stress-balancing activities in your life and make them a non-negotiable part of your routine. Stress is a nasty beast to master, I’m right with you sister! Together, lets pledge to take off the busy badge in order to live lives of more meaning, more space, more inspiration, and less stress.
PS- these are my favorite herbal teas... I always have a stash of all of these and I switch off depending on my mood!