Stress is an important part of life. We do need it! However, it becomes a problem if we’re continually on high alert. There are different ways to deal with stress and anxiety and, in my experience, we all have favourite activities that help us to unwind and step away from our thoughts, giving us time to look at a problem logically rather than from our primal instinct to survive.
My long-time favourite de-stressor is reading in bed. I can’t just slip into bed and fall asleep straight away. Thoughts whirl round in my head and make me restless. I’ve tried making notes before going to bed but that just seems to focus me on the problems I have!
We all know that a good night’s sleep goes a long way towards functioning appropriately the next day and reading is my panacea. The good thing is that I step into another world. Not so good is when I tell myself ‘one more chapter’ and before you know it you’ve lost a couple of hours of sleep 🙂
Reading takes you away from your automatic thoughts and puts you in a different setting where the characters have their own conflicts and problems to solve. Sometimes a book will come along at just the right time and have a message for you.
Choose your book on what suits your mood at the time you open those pages. Stories can help by making us laugh and lifting our spirits or they can make us cry (often there’s a mixture of both isn’t there). Some people find that reading helps to release their own emotions.
If at first you find it difficult to concentrate, my advise would be to persevere. Use your brain to create an image of the words you’re reading and surrender to the story.
Crochet is another activity that helps me deal with stress. The rhythm and movement are meditative and often a solution will just pop into my mind (even when I think I’m not focused on an issue). It can feel like I’m being bathed in colour.
Other crafts that are meditative are knitting, sewing, cross-stitching, painting by numbers, painting pebbles, colouring, drawing.
Don’t think you have to be an artist to draw and paint – just give it a go and you’ll be in the flow and feel more centered and grounded.
Walking and getting on my exercise bike helps me to deal with stress too. Any type of movement that takes your thinking patterns away from the perceived threat and co-ordinates your movement is good.
Be in the moment and use your senses. You will feel calmer and better able to handle your fears.
Resilience is something we talk about a lot in my team at school. We share different strategies with children helping them to build a tool kit in the hope that when life throws them challenges, instead of reacting with fight or flight they can be in control of how they view the challenges and react in a different way. Resilience is not innate, we’re not born with it, but we can improve it.
I’ve gathering together the articles I’ve already written that might help you to create your own tool kit for those times when you need to step away and breathe.
Articles on Jera’s Jamboree
I recommend you check out the National Stress Awareness website. It’s a fabulous resource for: Explaining stress; Resources and guides; 10 step stress solution; Stress at work