3 simple ways to manage stress + anxiety
sorry that today’s post is going up a little late… but there’s a reason, i promise! … which i will explain: one thing i haven’t talked about too much here on the blog is my ongoing battle with stress and anxiety. it’s not exactly the easiest thing to talk about, but i’ve sort of felt a “call” to write about it lately. i think that there’s a certain level of therapy involved in being vulnerable, and i just wanted to make sure i was doing it right [stress about being perfect, anyone?]… so, here we go.
ever since i was little, i can remember experiencing extreme bouts of stress and anxiety, which tended to manifest in the form of stomach aches, constant nausea, heartburn [i literally never left home without a pack of rolaids], and nights lying awake in bed for hours before being able to fall asleep because my mind wouldn’t stop racing.
throughout my life, i’ve definitely been able to recognize that i experience high levels of stress and anxiety… but to a certain extent, assumed it was normal. everyone seems to be “stressed” these days, right? why should i be any different? i even feel like sometimes we glorify being “stressed” and look down upon the people who aren’t, accusing them of being “lazy” and “unmotivated”.
can stress be a good thing? sometimes. but if you’re experiencing stress that:
- disturbs your sleeping patterns
- impacts your appetite [in either direction]
- makes you feel short of breath, nauseous or lightheaded
- causes you to break down, shut down or lash out
… then it isn’t the good kind of stress.
to this day, i still experience high levels of stress and anxiety that cause all of the above. and it effing sucks. sometimes it’s worse than others. sometimes i’m stressed about work… sometimes about my appearance… lately i’ve been stressed about the state of the world we live in and where society is headed… you name it, i’ve probably stressed about it excessively at one point or another.
the difference now is that i don’t just accept it as “normal” and struggle to live with it… i manage it.
over the past six months [after having a breakdown mid-november], i’ve found what works best for me when it comes to managing stress, and have a few different things i turn to when i start feeling even just a little bit anxious.
these 3 things help me to get centered and continue moving forward with a sense of calm [or, let’s be honest, at least a lower level of stress]:
1. get moving. it’s a no brainer that exercise is directly linked to our state of mind. think about it… how many times have you left yoga or finished a sweat session feeling worse than you did before? literally never. even though the thought of doing any sort of physical activity can be the last thing we want to do when we’re stressed, we need to suck it up and just do it [nike was seriously onto something here]. not only will all of those endorphins make you feel like you’re on cloud nine, going for a long run or hitting the yoga mat, even just taking a 10-minute walk, gives you a chance to remove yourself from whatever it is that’s stressing you out and just focus on the present moment.
2. meditate. over the past 3-4 months, my meditation practice has become consistent, and it plays a huge role in helping me to manage stress. every morning, i wake up 20 minutes early and do a guided meditation [i have a little “meditation corner” set up in my room] to set the tone for the rest of the day. i’m one of those people whose brain never. shuts. off. and meditating forces me to be still, acknowledge the thoughts i’m having, and then immediately let them go. it allows you to remove yourself from the outside world and turn inward, where the answers to just about all of our problems lie. if you’re new to the whole meditation thing, start small! even 5 minutes each day is enough to rewire your brain.
[not sure where to start? boho beautiful has some really great guided meditations on youtube, but this one specifically is good for cultivating a sense of peace and tranquility… and it only takes 10 minutes!]
3. listen to your favorite music. i’m a music lover. i grew up in a household that always have music playing, and my parents instilled their love of music on me from a very young age. i love finding new music just as much as i love listening to artists i’ve been obsessed with for years, and dabbling in new genres has expanded my musical preferences quite a bit. across the board, one thing’s for sure: music has healing powers. feeling stressed? play some jack johnson. feeling tired? put on the chainsmokers. feeling sad? hello, t. swift! need to make yourself feel like a badass? “big rings” by drake can help. allow yourself to really feel the music and let it take you away for a minute. keep it playing in the background while you go about your day [if you can] or plug into your headphones when you’re trying to get through your least favorite activity at work. there’s a reason that music is such a huge part of every culture… it’s universal, and as bob marley said, “when it hits you, you feel no pain.”
of course, there are many other ways to manage stress and anxiety, and i definitely encourage you to explore and find out what works best for you. these 3 things are simple and seem to help me the most, but i also keep journaling, taking a relaxing bath, and simply breathing up my sleeve for those really stressful times when i feel like i need to battle it from all angles.
what are your go-to methods for stress management? share in the comments below, or email me at email@example.com!
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