I’m going to level with you – I’ve been really stressed out lately.
In fact, I’ve been stressed out all year. The tailend of 2018 and the bulk of 2019 has not been smooth sailin’ to the Rogers-Solomon household, but we are hanging in there. Don’t get me wrong – we’ve had plenty of victories (which is what a gratitude mindset likes to shout at me daily), but that doesn’t alleviate the higher level of stress that’s been pouring into our lives.
Which basically means this entire year, I’ve been stressed out while also trying to help my clients who are stressed the F out. I love my job, but I also have to WATCH IT because I can’t offer what I don’t have myself. It’s a slippery slope if I don’t take care of myself. So, I’ve compiled my “list of things to do when you’re stressed out” – and while some days they work better than others, I think I’ve managed to survive up until this point fairly well because of it. And I hope you do, too.
Yep. It’s probably the dead last thing you want to do right now, which is why it’s the first thing on my list.
There is something sublimely terrible and euphoric about exercise. Your mind has to shut off to focus on making your body do whatever you want it to do – and your heart pumps endorphins all throughout to usher you into a completely different hormonal state. Distraction + transformation. And afterwards, even if you still feel stressed out or annoyed or frustrated or whatever other lovely feeling has arrived at your door today – you’ve renewed your energy to be able to deal with it.
Exercise not only makes you feel accomplished for the day (“I might be a stress potato but at least I got off my butt”) but it actually REDUCES stress altogether. I mean if that’s not an obvious solution, I don’t know what is.
So whenever you are feeling particularly stressed out – go for a walk. Get on that bike. Crush that reformer. I don’t care if you’re a dancing-tabata-barre-bootcamp-yogi, just do whatever your body likes. I can’t run to save my life (I think my body still believes it’s the 1200s and if I’m running, I’m running from a damn bear so I better SAVE. EVERY. CALORIE. FOR. SURVIVAL.) which means I’ve found alternative ways to get endorphins while not turning into a blimp. Exercise is not one size fits all, so just do whatever sounds like fun!
2. Go to Bed Early
Another womp, womp.
Stress reduces your ability/desire to sleep. It wires your brain into thinking you need to stay alert and awake to solve whatever crisis is coming atchya – but in reality, you need to constantly reboot.
I cannot promise that whatever stressor you’re experiencing at this current moment is going to melt away from sleep – but I can guarantee you that if you do NOT sleep, it’s only going to get worse. So do your damnest to get those 7, 8, or even 9 hours every night. Being cranky and stressed = you’re a piece of poop to be around, which is going to make your life worse. So for your own sake, and for the people around you’s sake – please go to bed.
3. Listen to a Podcast
There’s something about listening to confident women talk about real issues that makes me believe I’m going to be just fine.
Whenever I’m feeling stressed, I like to turn to the soothing voice of Cheryl Strayed in Dear Sugars or Elizabeth Gilbert’s Magic Lessons. When I’m feeling frustrated with my business, I’ll skim through How I Built This and listen to any female founder’s story. If I’ve got more time on my hands, then I switch gears to an audiobook and listen to Brene Brown’s quick wit. And when I really need the hail Mary to get me out of any stressful day – I call on her majesty the Queen, Oprah in Super Soul Sunday.
But those are just some of my favorites. Take some time to explore the magical women who have dared to create podcasts meant to help us get through our day. You’ll be thanking yourself later.
4. Watch Something Nostalgic
Shut off that age old advice that movies and TV are bad for you. Movies and TV can be absolutely FANTASTIC for you if you’re watching the right stuff at the right time.
If you’re stressed out and really needing to unplug, might I suggest watching something that takes you out of the moment and into a state of happiness. Typically nostalgia does that for me – which is like old favorites like When Harry Met Sally, The Sandlot, and Sabrina do it for me. I float back to a simpler time, and gain so much perspective that after an hour and a half – I feel like I can overcome whatever is in my way.
I, however, do NOT recommend watching anything anxiety-provoking. Turn the crime series and murder mysteries off, ma’am. You’re already in stress overdrive and don’t need to sleep with one eye open waiting to become a barely-possible statistic. If you’re struggling to think of any – switch on F.R.I.E.N.D.S. That’ll do the trick.
The ultimate equilibrium equalizer.
If you don’t know how to meditate, or don’t think it’s your thing – I encourage you to download a meditation app to get started. Headspace, Calm, and and YogaGlo are just a few. The entire gist is to shut off your mind and focus on one thing – or nothing at all. Ideally you will recalibrate your mind – and ideally alleviate excess stress getting in your way.
That’s right, put your anxiety to some use!
Whenever you are super stressed out – it’s usually due to some perceived lack of control. Maybe you don’t have enough control over your time to get everything you need to get done, or maybe you don’t have control over outside obstacles that could affect your day to day (weather – looking at you!).
I find that exerting control over something tends to ease my frustration and tricks my brain into thinking I have more power than I actually do. And what better way to exert control than to clean up your place? Not only will it give you the satisfaction of actually doing something productive, but it will also get rid of any clutter that could be triggering anxiety. Many people report feeling overwhelmed and discombobulated in an untidy space – so having a dirty space could actually be one of the root causes of your stress. Two birds, one stone!
7. Talk to Someone
There is nothing worse than being mega stressed out and trying to explain it to someone else who is not only NOT stressed out at all but also just…doesn’t get it.
Yeah, that sucks.
So invest in yourself. Find a life coach (I hear Blush is pretty great) or a therapist who is trained to help manage your stress levels. The simple act of unloading emotionally onto someone else can feel so incredible – and you may accidentally abuse that privilege with friends and family. So instead, talk to a professional who will not only listen to your concerns, but they’ll also provide tailored feedback to help you find balance again, and alleviate stress in the future. The great thing about Blush is that everything is conducted online and sessions are affordable – so the process itself won’t stress you out even further!
8. Play with a Pet
If an animal can’t help you de-stress, then it’s hopeless.
Kidding! Kind of?
If you are lucky enough to have a pet (say hi to @baloo_y_queso whenever you’d like), you already know the power these little critters have at taking you out of the moment and into pure exhilaration. Your cat doesn’t care how much money you have. Your dog doesn’t care if you’ve gained 10 pounds. Animals don’t care because they are smarter than us! They know this shit doesn’t matter!
So when you need to take a break from humans (don’t we all) – go hang out with a pet. If you don’t have a pet, visit a local shelter. I have no doubt a lot of furbabies would be more than happy to spend some time with your stress-ball ass.
If you don’t wanna talk it out, then at least write it out.
There’s something really incredible about being able to articulate exactly what is stressing us out – and then spitting it out onto paper. It’s like we’re releasing all of the icky feelings and making it a journal’s problem, and not ours. This is also known as externalizing the problem – which can be so helpful during times of acute stress.
So whip out that old diary and get to work! Don’t worry about if you’re making sense or not – chances are, no one will ever read it. And if you actually want someone to read it – may I suggest journaling to a Blush life coach? They’ll actually respond with real advice. Just sayin’.
10. Take a Shower
Maybe it’s just me, but when I’m really stressed, taking a shower with some intense hot water while blaring music really does it for me.
I’m not sure if it’s the music that clears my head and distracts my worry, or if I metaphorically feel like I’m cleansing myself of stress, or if the steam is opening up my pores and my stress is actually seeping out – but something tends to work during those times. Typically my showers are for utility only – I am in and out simply because I don’t want to embarrass myself at a public outing. But for stressful days – I tend to really enjoy myself in that shower. Hell, I’ll even exfoliate!
So do yourself a favor and jump in the shower (or the tub!) if you need to de-stress. You may feel the magic, too.