How To Keep Stress From Ruining Your Life

Death, taxes AND stress.  The truth is, stress isn't going away any time soon.  In fact, it appears the millennials have taken on more stress than previous generations had ever seen.  We worry about stability, finances and even many of the interpersonal relationships we sustain.  Some level of stress is beneficial, as it can keep us motivated, alert and active.  On the other hand, over worrying and cluttering our brain unnecessarily can burn us out and be highly counterproductive.  I don't consider myself an expert on this topic nor will I deny having my moments.  For the most part, I'm capable of taking a situation for what it is.  I wasn't always like this, but after working in an Emergency Room for 4.5 years, I realized very quickly what REALLY matters in life.  Even still, sometimes just a little pile of bills is enough to get my wheels in motion and I have to talk myself down.  I'm sharing some of my personal tips with you and PROMISE I use them on a daily basis.


1.  Breathe, breathe, breathe:  This is not referring to hyperventilation, feeling numb and fainting shortly after.  We're talking a deep and relaxing breathing pattern. When a stressful situation takes place, your anxiety shoots up like a rocket.  Learning to control your breathing will enable your mind think more clearly as to what the next steps should be.  When body and mind are in a relaxed state, they become highly capable of repelling the stress that surrounds you.  Besides, breathing has been known to lower blood pressure and heart rate.  Challenge yourself:  how low can you go? ;)  

2.  Disconnect from the situation:  Gathering your thoughts can change the perspective of a seemingly stressful event.  Sometimes, stepping away resets your thought process and will enable you to take judicious action.  It could even enlighten you as to an obvious solution you may have overlooked or prevent making an insensible one due to the pressure of the moment.  Taking time to regroup isn’t a sign of cowardice.  It's a sensible tool during difficult times.

3.  Place the gravity of the situation on a realistic scale:  Let's face it, we tend to over-dramatize everything moving from 0-100 real quick, right?  The use of a scale isn't necessarily a bad thing.  I measure the severity of the things being thrown at me on a daily basis.  Being honest with myself and true to the scale has kept me pretty well adjusted thus far.  0-10,  1 being nothing and 10 being an absolute catastrophe.  Now, if breaking a gel nail or spilling coffee on your new Anthropologie dress is anything above 2, then we have a serious problem and it may be time for re-evaluation of priorities.  Part of the issue is viewing obstacles with an overly negative slant.  Additionally, because we’ve made situations out to be preposterous, the solutions appear equally impalpable.  They wouldn’t feel that far fetched if you hadn’t taken things way out of proportion. 

4.  Talk it out with someone close to you.  Your emotions directly impact the way you function as a whole.  Suppressing stress will only add to the pressure you feel and will ultimately impact your physical state.  Chest tightness, abdominal discomfort and even some skin conditions have been directly linked to stress and how we cope with it.  Expressing your fear and/or worries can be extremely therapeutic.  It’s not even about the quick fix (aka Band Aid) a friend could potentially bring to the table, but rather about healing and reorganizing of ideas and actions.  Having a support system and saying things out loud can alleviate some of the emotional changes that come with stress.

5.  Identify the avoidable stressors in your life and avoid them. This is what makes stress different from anxiety.  With anxiety, one isn’t entirely capable of recognizing what causes the sense of instability and you are constantly fearing the unknown.  With stress, we almost always know the root.  It isn’t uncommon that we tend to place ourselves in stressful situations.  Personally, I’m constantly battling with my tendency to put things off.  Months ago, I decided I would step up my productivity and stuck by it.  This has brought a sense of security to my life and keeps me feeling very stable.  If you are able to recognize the stressors in your life, tackle them and minimize them going forward.

We don’t have the capabilities to change everything and everyone around us, but we do have the ability to control how we handle ourselves in the face of stress.  Acceptance leads to inner peace and gratitude.  Limit the time spent aggravating yourself over the things you can't control and focus on all the blessings surrounding you.  Revolutionize the way you see the bigger picture and ask yourself- “does this really matter in the long run?”At times it will,  but for the most part, it doesn't.  Get over it, drama llama, there's bigger fish to fry.