This was how my life was going to end.
My emotions were reeling. My feelings were raw. Then anger raged.
The roller coaster of life had taken another severe drop that I wasn’t ready for…
What could I do to calm down?
Unfortunately the above story did not just happen once in my life. It was something that until I learned to better manage my emotions, happened again and again. I am not perfect now, but I am much less messy. Through the trials I have learned a few tips, tricks, and skills on how to cope with stress and anxiety.
Perhaps you can learn from my mistakes and take something away that is helpful for you. Or maybe you don’t really deal with anxiety…. I don’t know.
For Day 113 of Claudia Altucher’s book Become An Idea Machine: Because Ideas Are The Currency Of The 21st Century: I get to share 10 Ways to Achieve Stress Relief or How Do I Cope With Anxiety.
Starting off simple:
1 Plan Ahead
Morning times can be super stressful. Especially when I stay up late the night before and then wake up late in the morning. Generally I plan to start my day early enough to have enough time so that I don’t rush around and get stressed out. However, sometimes I am in a rush and it is hard to pull everything together.
One thing you might not know about me is that I eat eggs for breakfast nearly everyday. And because I like variety I am always looking for new ways to eat them. Recently I have come across this 100% FDA-Approved Safety Silicone, BPA Free Egg Poacher. I can’t say that I have ever eaten poached eggs, but I think I might be ready to try them with this.
You know I think I talked myself into getting this…
But the main point is that planning ahead is a great way to reduce anxiety. You may not be in control of everything, but knowing what you want to do and expect to do helps to not be stressed out.
2 When Anxiety Strikes I Stop
One of the first things I try to do when I realize I am feeling stressed, worried or anxious is to stop.
If at all possible I physically get to a calm place.
This reminds me on how important body language is and then by extension your environment. It also reminds me of this Ted Talk with Amy Cuddy.
I don’t use these power pose techniques enough, but when I do, I feel better.
Coming to a stop allows me to take notice of what I was thinking and see where my thoughts went south. Many of this ideas and techniques are probably my own take on a great book I’ve read by Dale Carnegie entitled: How to Stop Worrying and Start Living. I highly recommend it. It is a bit older, but the human condition does not change much and the lessons are still applicable to today.
3 One Thing At A Time
Taking things one thing at a time is another thing I do to find stress relief. I stop and think. And then I realize what I can do in the present moment and what I can’t. If I am worrying about something in the future I see what I can do now to prepare for it (like idea number one). Otherwise I realize that some times there is nothing I can do at the moment.
Like when I finally get to bed at the end of the night.
The best thing I can do at that moment is focus on getting some good sleep. Or at least some sleep…
4 Small Victories
And falling to sleep is a small victory.
I like to set up small easily achievable goals to help build momentum before I face bigger challenges.
Taking the one thing at a time approach I get mental relief when I have a growing win column. I stack up the simple things that I can do and get them done. Silly things like taking care of chores quickly help me to not be distracted or stressed out as much.
Which is funny because sometimes to have less stress I…
5 Get Distracted
Another approach to getting relief from anxiety and stress is to get distracted.
Some of my favorite distractions are reading, going for a walk, listening to music, taking a nap or playing with my dogs.
The idea being that if something is overwhelming, it is best to put it aside a moment. Then once I am in a better mental state I can tackle the issue that got me into the mess to begin with.
Which ties into the next idea of…
It might be exploring the outdoors or maybe just going somewhere new.
I already touched on how environment can alter you mood. When I go exploring I find relief from anxiety because it forces my mind to focus on the moment. The new sights, sounds, or smells stimulates my brain in ways that take attention off of whatever was causing me the stress and allows me to enter into a place of interest.
Getting out of a daily routine can help make the time of you life not pass by so fast.
However, I know some people that going somewhere new causes more anxiety, so this might not work for everyone.
7 Get Social
Again, some folks anxiety goes through the roof when they are in social settings. I used to be so nervous in social situations that I would sweat profusely. One thing that helps is to have a friend go along so I have at least one person to talk with in the group setting.
At this point in my life I get stress relief by being around other people. Finding friendly places to go where people want to be nice to each other helps. The best lesson I have learned though with social situations is to not ruminate on what happened when I leave.
I do not replay what I could have done. Or what I could have said. I don’t wonder if I was slighted. Or made a fool of myself.
I just go on as if it was an insignificant occurrence that no one will remember.
Unless it was something important worth remembering.
Which reminds me that…
8 It’s Not All About Me
Remembering that I am one part of the many people who make up the world might be overwhelming in some instances. However it is always in a way comforting. I am not the main focus and sometimes I am not important to a event or situation. I am a background character that doesn’t even make the subplot of some people’s life.
And I am okay with that.
Realizing the weight of the world is not on my shoulders helps me reduce anxiety.
9 Get Outside Myself
A good way to remember it is not all about me is to get outside myself. Doing this through volunteering or helping someone else out with a problem helps me out too. I get to not navel gaze and instead do something productive.
This is just another variation of redirecting mental focus.
10 Never Lie
As simple and silly as this sounds, never telling lies is a great way to reduce stress and anxiety.
When I lie I have to wonder if I will be found out. I have to keep my story straight. I have to wonder who might talk to who and who might tell who what about what I might have lied about. The stress and anxiety is growing just thinking about dealing with the mess that can ensue.
If I always tell the truth (or as best and often as I can), then I keep my anxiety low. I build my own self confidence. I build my trustworthiness. The best part is when I make mistakes, which I do often, I just own up to them. I admit my shortcomings. Accept the consequences. Learn. Grow. And move forward with my life.
Hopefully now I am at a point that when everything comes crashing down around me, I have enough sense to cope with the stress and anxiety by using these skills and techniques that are battle tested. I might not use all of them or remember to at first, but with practice I am getting better.
I want to hear from you! What ways do you cope with anxiety or stress?
Ok. I can’t stop looking back at this Egg Poacher. After I finish this I plan to go get one. There are instructions on The secret of making a healthy Poached Egg to help newbies like me. It comes in a set of 3 and they are dishwasher, microwave and oven safe.
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P.S. Want more about my journey?
Conspire to Inspire is NOW ONLY $0.99!
When reading Conspire To Inspire, you will find out why I chose to feature Claudia Altucher along with eight other prominent people.
The story will tell how I discovered them, and why you should care.
Becca primarily blogs in French so if Vous parlez Français?
Check out her blog FLEUR DE FOI.
Check out my friend Malchus’ blog Anders-Unternehmen.
Go to sarahpaine.com for more great perspectives to rethink life!
Need stress relief? Color! Adult Coloring Book: Stress Relieving Patterns