Saturday, March 10, 2018

5 ways to deal with everyday stress like a boss

You live a life full of stress. It's time you admitted it (if you don't know it already).

Irrespective of whether you're a student, a professional in a corporate job, a stay-at-home parent, or a freelancer or full-time travel blogger. Where there is responsibility of any kind, where there is money to be made or bills to be paid, there is bound to be some kind of stress.

5 ways to deal with everyday stress like a boss

Personally, I never thought I worry. I always thought of myself as tension-free, carefree, a zen sort of a person. I always take life as it comes (mostly), I prefer not to think too far ahead (because it isn’t going to pan out right anyway), and I love my peace of mind too much to riddle it with worry.

But guess what? Lately I’ve discovered I’m a house of stress.

I don’t worry that often, although I do tend to overthink a lot. But what I do suffer from is mental exhaustion. I have my feet in too many boats, it seems. I have a full-time job that to others may seen ‘chill’ and the very opposite of stressful, but it’s become tiring with time. In the little free time I have left in the evenings, I have freelance assignments to finish – they tend to crop up at any time – and social media appearances to keep up. And then there’s family, the household, and twenty different things I have to do for them or for the household on the weekends.

To compound matters, I haven’t been of sound health in a few years and battle with a chronic ankle sprain that necessitates care and precaution every now and then. But every time I think I should take a break for a day or two, rest my body and mind, all of a sudden there will be a wedding in the family or a radio assignment or a travel opportunity that I cannot give a miss. ‘Rest’ as a concept has become alien to me. So, without actually worrying too much, I have still managed to become a walking picture of mental stress, physical exhaustion and repulsion to any kind of social activity that involves people or going out or dressing up.

I’m tired. Period.

Mental exhaustion also compounds my existing depressive tendencies to drain all of my energy and willpower. There are periods when I don’t feel like doing anything - absolutely anything - and nothing can make me feel any differently. I feel lost, sunk, hopeless, and aimless. And it shows in my daily output – I don’t blog for weeks at a time, I don’t write or create anything, I feel each day stretch out in front of me, empty, and I don’t smile from my eyes. If you ask me what’s wrong, and if I do decide to answer honestly, all you'll get out of me is, “I feel lost". 

Does any of this sound relatable to you? Do you feel the same, sometimes, perhaps all the time? Do you struggle with exhaustion on a regular basis? You may be stressed without knowing it. And if you didn’t accept it and do something to manage it in time, you may unwittingly slide into depression and/or anxiety. 

After some brainstorming, some trial and error, and lots of practice, I have found 5 sureshot ways to deal with everyday stress like a total boss. They work - take my word for it. Sharing them here with the hope that they will help you in managing your stress levels like they have helped me.

1. Build a support system and confide in them

You might have heard the term "tribe" being thrown around a lot lately and might even have wondered what the big deal about having a 'tribe' was. Nothing much really, except that everyone should have one. Simply put, your tribe is a close circle of people who care for you like family and will always look out for you. For most of my life, I didn't have any such friends, and only I know how hard it was for me growing up. It took me 2 decades to fully realise the importance of fostering relationships and keeping people close. But once I knew it, I worked on coming out of my shell and building my own tribe of loyal confidantes. Now I have a 'tribe' (you know who you are), and my life is abundant with positivity, support and love. In my worst moments, I have the support and love I need to pick myself up again and tread on. You need to learn to foster bonds with people you trust. Step out of your comfort zone and make conscious efforts to keep your confidantes close. They will be there for you on days when you need an ear to vent out to, a shoulder to cry on, or advice on the smallest and biggest of things. And that will make living a little bit easier.

2. Take up a hobby or physical activity and follow it with a vengeance

This one's a no-brainer! Discipline and productivity create a sense of order and stability in life. All you need to do is find out something that interests you. It could be a sport you've played as a kid or a hobby you abandoned somewhere down the line. It could be a craft, a musical instrument you've always wanted to learn, or a talent you want to cultivate. I would recommend taking up something out of your comfort zone, for it will push you into new arenas and help build confidence. But don't pick something entirely out of your comfort zone, or you may end up abandoning the activity within days or weeks! Next, find a reason to keep yourself inspired. Set weekly and monthly goals and practise to get better. In addition to beating stress, who knows, it might become a whole new passion for you. Or, if you're really lucky, an alternative career option too. 😁

3. Take up exercise of some kind – any kind

The doctor says it, the counsellor says it, and the sixty-something uncle sitting on the park bench will say it - exercise is super important, not just for the body but the mind as well. Physical exercise releases all the happy hormones you need to help reduce stress and boost your mood. Exercise is also known to help you sleep better and stay energetic throughout the day. If you're already an active person, I admire you for it. But if you're a lazy bum by nature, of if you're fit-looking or "thin" and therefore think you don't need to exercise, you need to rethink. Exercise is essential for everyone - fat, slim, old, young, teen - everyone needs to move their muscles in order to improve body function, mental capacity, and overall immunity and health. It is generally accepted that walking or moderate exercise for half an hour every day, 5 days a week is sufficient physical workout for your body. If you want to achieve specific goals, like weight loss or muscle toning or learning a sport like swimming or cycling, more power to you! Get out of bed and get at it! You'll see definite results in your physical and mental well-being within a few days, I guarantee.

4. Regulate your sleep cycle to feel more active

I know I sound like your mom when I say this (I definitely sound like my own mother), but it's true. Irregular and erratic sleep is a major reason for most mental health problems. I know sleeping early and waking up early is an insurmountable task for most millenials. Sleeping for an adequate number of hours every night is another uphill task. There's so much to see, so much to do... I know, I know! I am in the same boat as you. If there's one thing I've struggled with for a decade now, it is sleep discipline. As far back as I can remember, I've been a night person, even insomniac at times. It seemed kinda cool back then. It doesn't anymore, because I've come to realise how negative an effect staying up late nights has had on my body. Believe me, you cannot give yourself a better gift than that of sleep discipline. Learn to manage your time better and fit in all your activities and work commitments within the day so that you can hit the bed by 11 or 12 at best. Sleep for 7 to 9 hours, according to your body's need, and I guarantee you will wake up energetic, happy, and with an entire day stretched out in front of you to achieve everything on your list. It's really that easy to kiss stress goodbye!

5 ways to deal with everyday stress like a boss

5. Learn to say NO

This one's a tough cookie, and came as my biggest personal Eureka moment. You need to practise saying no to people and things that are a drain on your time, energy, or positivity. Haven't we all been in situations we don't want to be in yet feel like we can't wriggle out of? An unplanned social activity. A late-night chat session with a friend. A drinking and dancing spree about town. Things that you do not want to indulge in at the moment or plans that crop up unceremoniously and eat away at your 'me' time or exercise time or sleep time. These social commitments are invisible monsters that keep growing until you realise, all of a sudden, that you're behind on your work commitments, haven't been sleeping well, haven't been exercising or practising your hobby, and feel listless and low on energy. And most often, you won't even understand how you ended up in that situation! In my opinion, there's a single, simple solution to this dilemma: prioritise. Decide what is most important to you, and discard all other plans. If your friends are supportive of your well-being, they will understand and give you space. If they don't, they aren't really your friends, are they?

I have been practising these tips for some months now, and the results are astounding. I am happier than ever (though I do have my dark moments, but they pass). I am getting more work done, laying down foundations for my future plans, and paying special attention to my health, fitness and nutrition. I've lost some weight (or so they tell me), gained a set of friends I absolutely trust, and feel like a total boss lady on a daily basis. Does it get any better?

It's time you dealt with the multi-headed monster called stress too!

I would love to know if you decide to take up any or all of these tips, and if you see any results. Let me know in the comments if you want me to write in detail about HOW TO practise one or more of the tips I've shared above to deal with stress and anxiety. I'd love to share my personal experiences if they can be of help. 😊

Do connect with me on Instagram (I'm supremely active there) or Facebook. Let's get talking!

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