Life is stressful. If you don’t agree with that— you’re probably either very wealthy, under twelve, or you’re dead. If it’s the latter, I’m sorry. Being dead sucks… or at least the idea of being dead sucks. Also, you’re dead. Stop reading this and go back to whatever it is ghosts do. This doesn’t apply to you, Mr. Dead-Guy.
Getting back to the point here: Life is stressful. Even more stressful than life is the fact that we’re not trained to properly deal with that stress. For most people, the feeling of anxiety is so constant that it just becomes their idea of ‘normal’.
They’re the people who don’t realize they’re stressed until—one miraculous day— they’re able to relax. It’s like breathing for the first time, but never knowing you couldn’t before.
It’s important that we take a step back at least once every day.
And before you ask: No, I’m not saying that you should have a drink as soon as you get home because there’s no other way you can physically relax. I’m saying that it’s important that we all find things that help us deal with our stress in a non-self-destructive way.
I know it’s one of those things that’s easier said than done.
Drinking, or going out, or binging Netflix are all super easy ways to bring down your stress levels fast— but in my experience, if you’re using those to cope— it’s nothing but self-sabotage under the guise of good intentions.
Using drinking as a coping mechanism is a sign of alcoholism (my apologies to the entire state of Wisconsin), if you go out all the time you’re going to burn out— or hurt yourself financially, and binging Netflix usually leads to procrastination and sacrificing sleep for ‘just one more episode’.
That’s a giant counterproductive cocktail of unnecessary stress.
A huge part of the problem with this is that we don’t live in the present— and we’re not taught to make time for it. We live in a world of constant deadlines, goals and projects, commitments and guilt— and it’s really easy to get swept away.
Now more than ever, it’s important to allow yourself time. I’m not talking about extending deadlines, or quitting projects, or telling you to be less ambitious.
I’m telling you to refocus.
The best gift you can give to yourself— and let’s be real, it’s also the best thing you can do for everyone else, because you’re the worst version of yourself when you’re stressed— is dedicated time each day.
Time away from your life, doing something that brings you into the present. Something meditative that builds you up.
For me, it’s yoga. It’s climbing. It’s playing music.
When I’m doing these things, I have to really focus on what I’m doing. If I don’t, I’ll fall on my ass, I’ll hit a wrong note or mess up the rhythm— I’ll fall off the wall and have to start the route all over again.
So, I focus on the task at hand— and in doing that, I’m forced into the present. I can’t worry or stress or think about anything other than what I’m supposed to be doing in the moment.
Even though these things work for me, something else might work better for you.
It could be lifting, or painting, or stacking cups— whatever it is, it has to immerse you. It needs to engage your body and your mind, and it needs to do this simultaneously. Those are my only requirements.
When you schedule time each day to turn off your head and take a step back from everything, I’ve found that you return to your insane life a little better, a little calmer, and a little more resilient than before.
You’re able to see past yourself with more clarity, and when you can do that— prioritising is easier. Saying ‘no’ is easier. You’re able to see what’s important, instead of being blinded and overwhelmed by what’s urgent.
I’m not going to say that all of your stress will miraculously disappear at the flip of a switch— but when this all comes together, tossing your stress into the backseat gets a lot easier.