Managing Your Stress

I've been radio silent over the past two weeks as I went through a cross country move, which was quite a stressful time! Now that we're setting up the new apartment, have wifi and I've got a desk, it felt like the right time to get back to the blog and talk about something that's been on my mind: stress and productive ways to deal with it.

Modern life can be overwhelming. We have so many different contact points with so many different people that it’s easy to feel completely outdone by your surroundings. This past year, I felt really overwhelmed at work and in school. Both had been really stressful and not very rewarding in the short-term – a recipe for stress and feeling terrible. I had a pit in my stomach for the longest time, feeding on my stress and unhappiness. One day, I had to look at myself and decide to either be a miserable person or figure out my stress levels.

First and foremost, I had to accept what was happening and figure out what my end goal was. If I didn’t like work and school, what did I want instead? Did I want to finish my degree or quit? What was my optimal situation? Once I know my big goal was feeling way less stressed, I knew that I could start to move forward.

I had to let go of my intense emotional attachment to what was happening – potentially losing my 4.0 or not feeling appreciated – and learn to appreciate what I had. Once I did that, I could start to focus on myself and not the crap making me feel awful.

My fave blend of Twinings Earl Grey and Dried Lavender, tasty honey from the Savannah Bee Company and the deliciously calming Honey Vanilla Chamomile from Celestial Seasonings.

My fave blend of Twinings Earl Grey and Dried Lavender, tasty honey from the Savannah Bee Company and the deliciously calming Honey Vanilla Chamomile from Celestial Seasonings.

The next big step is self-care: moving around, eating right and drinking calming tea instead of heavy caffeine always does me a world of good. I went on a real lavender kick, especially with chamomile and lemongrass. Meditation, yoga, running and long walks are all awesome ways to bring the stress ball in the pit of your stomach into the light and out of your life.

The best way to manage stress is to take care of yourself and love yourself.

Move Forward

It happened, get over it.

That’s the harshest version of a mantra I hear myself saying pretty often.

You can’t change the past, so don’t get upset. Don’t cry over spilled milk. Move forward. Deal with it.

It’s definitely important not to let the past rule your decision making, but you can’t ignore it. If you spilled that damn milk three days in a row in the exact same way – you probably need to learn how to stop spilling milk every time you pick up your glass. 

So how do you learn from the past without being chained to it? First, recognize your actions. Own them. If you messed up, acknowledge you messed up. Let that pit in your stomach roil for a few minutes and feel the weight of that screw up so that you won’t do it again. Then, as long as whatever you did wasn't that bad, let the feeling go. It’s only going to weigh you down and make you feel like success is impossible. Easier said than done, but totally do-able. If you have trouble, I recommend finding a way to disrupt the feedback loop of your guilt and anxiety. Maybe you think through the process and aftermath of the mistake once or twice and then interrupt the thought with a physical activity or chore. Maybe you let the guilt lie until it’s not so fresh and then attack it with some reflection or meditation. Whatever works for you is the best way to go.

What next? Really examine your actions. Figure out that when you pick up the glass of milk, you always seem to lift it too high to hold or you keep putting it on a ledge without making sure it’s stable. Try to remember not to put the glass there anymore and build a positive habit of putting the glass firmly on the table. If it’s not that easy a fix, don’t worry about it. Worrying about it only makes it worse. 

Next? Move on. Let yourself try again. Maybe you’ll screw up. Maybe you won’t. But either way you’ve taken time to self-reflect and forgive yourself for spilling a glass of milk. You’ll be happier person and eventually you’ll either stop spilling milk or you’ll stop worrying about spilling it.