Stress Less

Practical tips for managing stress

We all have stress that comes up from time to time, it’s normal and there are many ways to deal with it. Stress can have a negative impact on our health and well being, so being able to manage and find ways to lessen stress in our lives is crucial. Below are some of the ways I have found to minimize the amount of overall stress I experience.

1. State your needs in the moment

This is something I struggle with, but the few times I actually had the courage to do it, I felt very empowered. Being able to say what you need in the moment strengthens your communication with others and prevents you from being upset and ruminating later. We often have the misconception that other people can read our minds, but that is not the case. No one is going to know what you’re thinking, feeling, or how to meet your needs if you don’t say it. Training myself to do this has been extremely beneficial and lessened moments of confusion about if I handled an interaction properly.

2. Have clear boundaries

If you want to be a healthy person you must have boundaries. Similar to the previous point, when you are clear about what is comfortable for you and what is not it results in clarity for all parties involved. I think oftentimes we aren’t vocal about our boundaries and allow them to be crossed, then get mad at other people for not knowing. You can not expect other people to uphold your boundaries. You have to 1. understand your personal boundaries and 2. be confident enough to enforce them with those around you.

3. Make time for yourself

Self care has become a trendy topic, while it’s great that it’s in the mainstream conversation it is important that we actually put it into practice. Let’s be real, it’s 2018 and we’re all busy. As adults, there are a lot of things to manage in our daily lives, which is not an easy task. For many of us, this automatically results in unhealthy eating, poor sleeping habits and just a general lack of me time. I think it’s natural for us to waver with self care when our schedules are hectic. The problem is doing so can be detrimental to our health. Not giving yourself time to rest, in whatever way you need to makes it harder for you to function optimally. No matter what, make sure you are penciling in time to sleep, take long baths, read, create, spend time with loved ones, get outside, do what you need to recharge regardless of how busy you are.

4. Develop healthy relationships

They say that you are a combination of the five people you spend the most time with. This makes the exchange of energy between us and those around us extremely important. Having strong relationships with people that think highly of you and want you to succeed (and vice versa) can have a positive impact on our daily lives. Sometimes when we are caught up in the hustle and bustle of life, it’s easy to lose track of where we’ve been and where we’re going. Having people around you that will be there to hold up the mirror and remind you of your greatness is crucial, because we all have those moments in life.

5. Be comfortable with the present

This might seem silly to some, but one of my goals for 2018 was “live in the moment”; which makes this tip one that I’m really focusing on in my own life. It is easy to feel as though we have not done or are not doing enough. I often find myself caught up in thinking about my potential and all the things I want to experience, and eventually overwhelm myself by getting stuck in my head. I am now making a conscious decision to not only be present, but be content with whatever the present is. I deal with things as they come and allow everything else to fall into place. Does that mean I never get anxious with thinking about a million things that have nothing to do with right now? Of course not I’m human, but now I have specific grounding activities I can do in those moments to bring myself back. I’m planning on doing a post about anxiety to give insight on some of these practices. An easy way to do it for yourself is to think of the times in your life that you are fully in the moment. When you have 3-5 activities, find ways that you can work them into your day and create reminders for when you’re having a moment of difficulty.

What are some of your go-to strategies for managing stress? Feel free to comment them below!

Healthy Habits: Meditation

Meditation is truly a life-changing practice and for various reasons has gained popularity in the wellness space. It has been shown to increase happiness, improve concentration, promote relaxation and create structural changes in the brain. Many people get stuck on the how when approaching meditation, but one of the reasons meditation is so great is that it’s all about what resonates with you.

There are many resources to help you start a meditation practice. Calm is a great place to begin your journey, it features a user-friendly website and mobile apps for iOS and Android. Calm provides users with mood music, various meditations and a deep breathing tool. Another great feature on Calm is the ability to meditate for as little as two minutes at a time. Headspace is another great resource for beginners, with guided meditations accompanied by interactive videos to help users better understand meditation and make it a regular part of their day. Headspace is awesome because it explains meditation, and why we should do it regularly in a way that everyone can understand. Both platforms offer notification reminders to assist with consistency. Last but certainly not least, good old YouTube has countless guided and unguided meditations. YouTube is my personal favorite because you can search for meditations based on what you need for the day.

Meditation is one of my favorite healthy habits, because it has made my days better and easier to navigate. The basic purpose of meditating is to just have a moment to yourself. When I first started my meditation practice, I didn’t understand how to do it or how to make my thoughts stop. It really is as simple as closing your eyes, taking some deep breaths and focusing on the inhales and exhales. Inevitably, when you begin meditating it will feel as if you’re doing it wrong because you can’t stop your mind from focusing on everything else. It is more important to let thoughts pass without judgement, than try to prevent them from coming. Meditation is a practice of being in the moment; so if you close your eyes and can’t stop thinking about a million things just allow the thoughts and feelings to continue to flow in and out without judging them. With consistency, meditation places you in an observant space of your thoughts, instead of being stuck in your head. It can help you develop a pause in your daily interactions and allow you to respond instead of react. Consistent meditation can provide you with a deeper level of understanding and control over your cognitive experience.

I have created a survey about meditation, in hopes of conducting my own research about its impact on people’s emotional and mental states. It takes about 15 minutes to complete, if interested follow the prompt below to participate.