As a young adult, college student, working woman, HUMAN, I fall victim to the overwhelming feeling of stress a little more often than anyone would like to. Unless you are very lucky, you’ve likely experienced the same. Whether it be based on bills, work, school, or anything else, stress has got to be one of the worst things to deal with in life.
Personally, I know I am stressed out when my mind is crowded with so many things at once that I can’t concentrate. It becomes a blur of racing thoughts ranging from things I have forgotten to do to things that happened weeks ago that still have a hold on my emotions. When I realize I am feeling this way, I have a few ways to gain control of the situation and move forward.
Method #1: The List
- The first step in de-stressing is to write down everything you have going on that may have an impact on your stress level. This can be anything from relationship struggles, to homework, to making sure you remember to email someone about a group project. Write everything down, even the things that seem small, because even little things add up!
- After you have your list written down, look over your it. Rank the items in urgency, and then decide which ones are the easiest to get rid of. There are likely some things you can easily do right now to get them over with. Maybe you need to email a professor, or call your work to ask off for an upcoming event. Take the 2 or 3 minutes right now to get them done and cross them off your list. The more things you can do right away, the shorter the list, and the lower your stress.
- Once you have taken care of a few little things off of your list, you will likely feel at least a little bit better having completed something. Remember not to dwell on your negative thoughts. Everything you’re dealing with can be handled, you just have to approach it the right way. Focus on the tasks you have, but don’t live in the past or the future planning out a way to get things done. Make sure you still enjoy your moments while you have them!
- Live. Do things, and keep busy. It may seem contradictory, but usually when you are moving around and running errands and having lunch with friends, you are generally more productive. You also tend to live more in the moment, and remember your tasks without having time to dwell on them. Take things as they come.
While these steps may seem simple (they are), I have found that writing down the things I have in my head is a good way to get rid of some stress. Putting it on paper gets it out of your head, making your mind feel more clear. Your mind (in a perfect world) should be very clear all the time. If yours isn’t, it means you are probably living in moments that have already happened, or have yet to happen. In order to actually be “in the moment” you have to have no circling thoughts. Personally, I don’t always realize when I am caught up in a swirling thought process. Being more aware of your mental clarity is important because it improves your general well being, and helps you deal with stress.
Method #2: Mental Clarity
Sometimes, the things stressing you out aren’t necessarily solvable. Maybe you’re going through emotional stress due to family problems, friendship struggles, or relationship drama. This kind of stress is not task oriented, so a list might help you see what you are dealing with, but it would not really get you anywhere. In this scenario, the best way I have found to get rid of the thoughts weighing on your mind is to confront them. I have listed a type of emotional stress (there are more than what I have listed) that I’ve dealt with, and a way I handle it.
- Words left unsaid. I find this to be one of the most frustrating kinds of stress, and I usually feel it fairly often. So maybe you got into an argument of some kind, and thought of things you wish you would’ve said in the moment. Maybe a relationship just abruptly came to an end. It could be multiple things, but all are equally as frustrating. In this situation, if you can talk to the person, do. Just tell them that you have some things you want them to hear, and don’t expect to get anything out of it. Sometimes just saying what you’re thinking helps enough. If you can’t talk to them, however, write it down. Pretend you will give them the paper if you need to, but just act like you are talking to them. Then let it go. It is no longer in your head, so move on. Keep busy and be productive to prevent yourself from thinking about it again until you don’t feel like you want/need to anymore.
- Any kind of emotional stress.No matter what has you feeling this way, surrounding yourself with people who you respect and enjoy can help. I tend to isolate when I am feeling stressed, and it may feel better sometimes to handle things alone, but overall life is easier when you spend your time with others. You don’t have to talk about what you’re dealing with unless you want to, and you can distract yourself by doing things in the moment. Another way to clear your mind is to do things outside. Put down your phone, play some music, go for a walk, or even just sit outside and breathe. Listen to the sounds around you and take a moment aside from the chaos in your world to appreciate your own presence. Acknowledge how lovely it is to be alive. Looking at the big picture helps shed light on how minuscule your problems truly are.
You may be dealing with both emotional stress and task oriented stress at the same time. When you write out your list, you can see the combination of the two, and recognize possible solutions for each. When stressed out, I used to tend to rebel and procrastinate and not do anything at all instead of taking steps to get things done (which obviously doesn’t work). Over time, I have figured out this method that helps me take things a little at a time. Time spent dwelling on things in our lives takes away moments that we should be appreciating things around us. The more active you become in recognizing when you are becoming overwhelmed, the easier and more habitual it will be to handle it. Everyone deals with things differently, but I hope this helps some of you! Also, if you have any methods for dealing with stress that you have found successful, please let me know. I’d love to learn other ways as well. Happy Sunday! 🙂