Okay, so you’re stressed. You feel like you can’t do anything right. You feel like a failure. Your world is falling apart. You’re losing sleep. You’re not eating. You appear to be perfectly fine on the outside but are crumbling on the inside. It’s getting harder to keep it together. We’ve all been there. Let's be real: stress really sucks.
Growing up, I would get extremely stressed over the smallest things to the biggest things. When I was in that state, it was hard for me to see anything else but the pain and stress. I couldn’t see the light. Each time, I thought I couldn’t get out. Stress affects everyone in different ways. People cope with it in different ways. As I got older, I wanted to understand stress and wanted to manage it effectively. I didn’t want to push it away anymore.
Stress affects more than just your mind. It can have drastic negative effects on your body. Stress can lead to headaches, a weakened immune system, high blood pressure, missed periods, pounding heart, risk of a heart attack, insomnia, and increased depression.
I can vividly remember a time when I was extremely stressed my sophomore year of college. Fall semester was super difficult for me and I went through a lot of tough situations one after another. I wasn’t handling it well and I couldn’t get a grip on my emotions. My immune system was weak, I wasn’t sleeping enough or eating enough so I got chronic bronchitis. Those were some of the worst weeks of my life. I often think about how I let stress get the best of me and severely negatively affect my health.
Once I learned about these effects, I decided I had enough. I wanted to manage stress positively. I’ve learned some tools and tips that help me manage my stress in any situation. I’m not saying I’m perfect and never get stressed anymore. I’ve just learned how to control my own emotions and reactions to it much better. And you can too. Here are 9 simple tips to manage stress:
1. Just Breathe
As soon as I feel that I’m getting stressed and my heart starts beating fast, I start taking several deep breaths. I breathe in from my nose and fill my stomach with air. I imagine that as I’m breathing in, I’m breathing in calm and peaceful air. I hold my breath for a few seconds and breathe out of my mouth. I imagine that I’m letting out the stress and tension in my body with that breath. I do this at least 10 times or until I feel myself get calmer. You can also use the 4-7-8 breathing method. This is where you breathe in for 4 seconds, hold it for 7 seconds, and breathe out for 8 seconds. I use breathing to calm myself down most often because I can do it on-demand in any situation and calm my mind and body.
2. Write it Down
Journaling has honestly changed my life. I’m someone who is constantly over-thinking and my mind is always drowning in countless thoughts. I started journaling about 5 years ago consistently and it has changed my life. I realized that I needed to get my thoughts out of my mind and into writing. I’m always journaling and recording my thoughts. My notes on my phone are full of random journal thoughts. You need to get out of your head when you’re stressed and write those thoughts down. Watch how this small habit changes your life over time.
3. Do something with your hands
Alright here’s a confession: I’m a pretty messy person. I’m not super messy but a mediocre messy you know. I’m chill with some mess in my room and it doesn’t bother me. I’m sure some of you out there are just like me. If you’re home and feel stressed, do something with your hands. For me, when I’m stressed, it’s the best time for me to clean my room. Rather than just sitting with my thoughts and living in my mind, I’m doing something productive with my hands. I always feel better about myself once I do this and it’s a win-win. You could also do the laundry, wash the dishes, or even color or draw. Anything to get you out of your head.
4. Do something active
Move your body man. Go the gym, go on a walk, do some yoga in your room. There are countless studies on the positive effects of exercise for your mental and physical health. Doing something active also forces you to get out of your thoughts. You will feel so much better right after, girls honor 😊.
5. Be mindful
Meditation can be truly life changing. In high school, my family and I would meditate together almost every day. It taught me how to quiet my over-active brain. Mediation increases your self-awareness, keeps you in the present, reduces negative emotions, and allows you to cope with stress. You can meditate at any time in any place. If you are new to meditation, look up guided meditations on YouTube or download the Calm app. Start out with 15 minutes and slowly increase your time. Don’t be discouraged by it in the beginning, it’s a learning curve. The way I meditate is simple. I either use a guided meditation video or I simply focus on my breath. If you meditate consistently, watch how it transforms you.
6. Talk to a loved one
My parents are my best friends. They are truly the most important people in my life. They are one of the biggest reasons I’ve been able to get through difficult times in my life. They have been my strength. Anytime I feel stressed or anxious or worried or sad, I call them first. Think about who that someone is for you, someone you trust wholeheartedly. Sometimes you’ve had a long day and all you want to do is rant to someone. Do that. It can feel so good to get your feelings off your chest. You’ll feel so much lighter.
7. Visualize what you truly want in life
The power of visualization is insane. I’m someone who is always thinking about the bigger picture, my future, and what I want out of my life. Think about your goals, your dreams, your aspirations. Imagine yourself as accomplishing those goals and living those dreams when you’re stressed. Imagine that you’ve made it and feel the happiness and joy you feel in that scenario. It will keep you in check and remind you of what you’re striving for. It’ll remind you of why you’re suffering through this stressful time temporarily.
8. Listen to music
One song can change your whole mood. Put on some Beyoncé or Rihanna, dance around like no one is watching, feel like a boss and just let loose.
9. Fake it til you become it
Sometimes, you just have to put on a happy face, put your head down, and plow through a difficult situation. We’ve all been there. It’s not ideal you gotta do what you gotta do. Smile. It’ll trick you into thinking you’re happy temporarily. Fake it until you become it.
I truly hope these tips help you to cope with stress more effectively. We are all so capable of accomplishing amazing things and using our strengths to better the world around us. You are stronger than you think. Just remember the stress you feel is temporary and it will pass. Believe in yourself and your gifts. You can get through anything. You got this. Hold your head up high and run the world.