Stress: What It Can Feel Like, And Tips To Manage It Better

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Stress. We all face it, but how do you handle yours?

Hands up, how many of us have said something that we didn’t mean in the heat of the moment? Maybe there was a deadline approaching or your boss has been breathing down the back of your neck all day? Maybe a loved one is sick in the hospital or your new puppy has chewed up your favourite slippers? Stress can happen for many reasons and when it does, it can bring out the worst in all of us.

All too often, when someone is a bit short with us, we can take that to mean that they have a problem that they have a problem with us. While certainly sometimes that is possible, it’s also quite possible that it’s not. Just this morning I was a bit curt with my husband, but my real frustration was the fact that my dog had already popped two of the new tennis balls that I’d bought for him and I’m still nowhere near ready for Christmas, which is now in less than a month.

Are either of those things Matt’s fault though? No, of course not, and so I apologised immediately for being short with him.

Even as a housewife, stress is something that is an everyday occurence for me. I’d love to be one of those Orange County housewives that gets her nails done (actually I wouldn’t, but my point besides!) and goes shopping and partying with the girls, but life is jus not that simple. Instead, there are chores to do, bills to pay and stresses that mount up.

But what happens if we keep[ stress locked up inside? How do you know if you’re feeling stressed? What does stress feel like for you? For me personally, I get an upset stomach and I feel very tired, usually with tension headaches or migraines too. I’m almost lifeless and not my usual exuberant self. I give up and let my problems consume me until my husband (or more often, the overflowing laundry bin) kicks my butt.

What if we keep that stress locked inside for a long time? If I keep it in for long enough, I start getting some very scary symptoms like suicidal thoughts and heart palpitations. Yep, stress seriously fucking sucks.

Take a watch of this inspirationa; short video about stress. Maybe you’ve seen it before on TikTok or YouTube, if not, then I hope that you enjoy it:

Now tell me, how often do you think to put the glass down? Very few people do.

Why? Because quite often, we’re afraid to ask for help. Maybe we believe that if we need help then we’re weak or perhaps that there is something wrong with us. Maybe we convince ourselves that we’re a failure and that we should just give up trying. For men particularly, there is sometimes a view that you should be tough and strong and absolved of showing or feeling any emotion. This is one of the signs of toxic masculinity.

So how can we set down the glass in a way that really works? Maybe if you’re like me, you once thought that meditation or controlled breathing doesn’t work. Maybe you tried it once and it just felt really silly, right? I hear ya. Maybe, like I used to, you’ve had some unhealthy coping strategies for a long time and now you’re looking to make some changes?

Here are a few things that effectively help me to manage my stress:

  • Go Green – Get out into the garden. head to a park, a forest or woodlands, anywhere with lots of plants and trees. It has been scientifically proven that as little as twenty minutes in nature can really boost your mood. What better to do on your lunch break?!
  • Journal – A problem shared is a problem halved, but what when you don’t really want to share your problems, or have someone to share them with? A journal can feel a lot like a friend for telling your problems to, that listens without any judgement. Not only, but I often find that once my problems are written down, they sort of disappear from my mind – as though my brain now trusts my journal to remember them. I can then delete those thoughts once my brain stops believing that they are important.
  • Try Music Therapy – Start off with some heavy music (System Of A Down’s “Chop Suey”, anyone?) and move down through the music genres slowly until you arrive at some soft, classical music (I love Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata” for this). Notice your mood change and your body gradually relax with each genre.
  • Try Mindfulness – “Do the thing right in front of you”. I scoffed at the idea at first and yet, on some of my darkest days, it’s made oh so much sense. Mindfulness doesn’t make a lot of sense to some people and yet, when we understand it like this, mindfulness makes a lot of sense. Forget anything else, anything else doesn’t matter right now, just do the thing right in front of you, and keep doing the thing right in front of you until your problems seem less or you even forget about them completely.
  • Allow Yourself A Long, Hot, Shower – Okay, it’s guilty pleasures time, but if there’s one thing that this girl loves, it’s a long, hot shower. I carry a lot of stress in my arms and shoulders, so feeling the warm water pummeling my aching muscles as the heat relaxes me? I always step out of the shower with a much better mood than I had when I stepped in.
  • Meditate Anyway – On of the most common perceptions when it comes to meditation is that you should sit in the ‘lotus’ position and incant “ohm” while you imagine a bright white light, a flowing stream or some other pleasant visualisation. In actual fact, one of the best meditations that I have had involved finding myself in a dark attic dungeon and simply allowing myself to feel cared for – how does that compare to your idyllic sunset?! Sometimes when we meditate, our minds wander and do things of their own. That’s okay! Let them, but try to observe, don’t react. You might find that you experience some very dark or absurd visualisations, just let them go without reaction or judgement. Sooner or later, the nicer images will come along and you will start to feel much calmer. You also don’t need any particular positions to meditate, try sitting upright on a chair or lying flat on the bed if you like. Find what works for you.

I hope that some of these tips will help you. What are your favourite ways to let go of stress? How do you know when you’re feeling stressed? Let me know in the comments and don’t forget to put the glass down!

Until next time,

Stay safe & have fun,

Helen xx

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