I won’t get into the details, but on a scale of one to ten, my stress levels right now feel like they’re sitting at a solid 11. There’s a lot going on in my life (mostly good, which I’m excited about), but that doesn’t mean there aren’t a few moments when I feel like I’m skating on the edge of panic. Instead of freaking out, I’m taking a moment to slow down and remind myself of some ways I can more effectively manage stress.
Writing it down
The most stressful periods in my life are brought on when I’ve got a lot of open tasks and I don’t feel like I have enough time to do it all. The sensation of feeling overwhelmed usually stems from carrying around a mental task list in lieu of getting it all out of my brain and onto paper. Writing down tasks that feel like they’re breathing down my neck clears the mental clutter and helps me to focus on doing one thing at a time. If, like me, your stress stems from several different areas in your life, try this simple approach to task organization favorited by Christine Merrill of C’est Christine.
Taking a mental break
Some might call it avoidance (which isn’t healthy when practiced over long periods of time), but a little bit of escapism isn’t a bad thing. Sometimes picking up a juicy novel or watching a favorite film with a happy ending is all it takes for me to get lost in a different world and then come back fresh to the tasks at hand. It’s usually much easier to attack my to-do list when it hasn’t been top-of-mind for an hour or two.
Working up a sweat
I’ve been running on and off over the past two decades and during that time, pounding the pavement has never failed to drop my stress levels like a stone. Thanks to the feel-good endorphins that flood your body during and just after physical activity, I consistently experience an enhanced sense of well-being following a good run. For those times when the weather isn’t cooperating, jumping on the exercise bike for a few minutes or putting on some upbeat tunes and dancing around the living room like no one’s watching work too.
Working with my hands
Knitting is hands-down one of my favorite ways to de-stress. There’s just something hypnotic and meditative about the quiet repetition of knitting and purling stitches even if it’s just for a quick 15-minute knit break. Studies have shown that activities like knitting can lower your blood pressure and reduce production of the stress hormone cortisol. The best part? Knitting is not only meditative–it’s also productive since I’m making a practical item at the same time that I’m lowering stress.
Clearing it out
Are you surrounded by unnecessary clutter? That might be a big part of why you’re feeling so overwhelmed. It makes sense, right? A cluttered home or desk are a physical, visual reminder of all of the stuff you have to do that isn’t done, and doesn’t exactly promote restfulness. So I’ll be spending the next few days cleaning up to help keep my mind clear and focused for the priority tasks I need to handle.
You’d better believe I’ll be referencing and re-referencing this post in the immediate and distant future when everything starts to feel like it’s just too much. Hope you found it helpful, too.