WHAT TO DO WHEN STRESS CREEPS UP ON YOU
Something happened on Tuesday morning that made me feel a little alienated from the version of myself I’ve always known. Although on holiday with my family, my morning was pretty standard - fuelling myself with coffee, German sweet breads and probably daydreaming about what shopping I could fit into my suitcase, when suddenly a ping went off on my phone from my best friend. I'd only gone and forgotten her birthday, hadn't I? This, for me, was soul-destroying because although I can be a little forgetful, birthdays are my thing. But you know, after a sincere apology, lots of balloon and heart emoji's and a little pep talk to myself, I got over it. That was until the same thing happened again yesterday for my aunt's birthday. That's where I drew the line and took a moment to evaluate what the f**k was going on and well - hey, it turns out I'm a bit stressed right now.
A few months ago I wrote a blog post entitled 'how to get out of a style rut'. Albeit, in my opinion, a pretty helpful blog post, sometimes life gets a little bit trickier than not knowing what clothes to put on in the morning. When so many things, big or small, happen in such a short space of time it can become what seems to you as an all encompassing nightmare. It happens to all of us - sometimes, we just fall into a rut and life feels flat, or worse, painful. We start to wonder why things feel like they're harder than they should be. You're affected. Your day-to-day is affected. Your work life is affected. Your loved ones are affected. And well, the sooner you recognise all of that the better so that you can try and snap out of it. That's exactly what I've had to do.
Despite all the wide smiles on my Instagram, the last month has been quite a turbulent one for me, with a hell of a lot of changes and if I'm honest, I've struggled with it quite a lot. Being part German, efficiency and having a structure is something that I just need and so when things interrupt that and throw me off sync, I feel a bit overwhelmed and frantic. So, here we are, a house move, a family holiday and a few personal challenges later... IT'S TIME TO GET BACK ON TRACK.
1. BE MINDFUL
Mindfulness was an alien concept to me a few months ago, but my boyfriend has introduced me to a few practices in order to start my journey to being more mindful. When we feel stuck in a rut, we’re usually responding to disappointments based upon what we thought would or should happen. Being mindful is the ability to focus on the distress of the moment, accepting it, and working towards changing it for the better. I for sure am learning that it takes a hell of a lot of patience and practice (both of which I have little of right now) but doing so goes a long way in cutting out the suffering ruts can bring.
When we don’t get what we are expecting or hoped for - a promotion, a second date, the ability to squeeze into that teeny tiny dress that's clearly made for children - we feel the weight of it in our bodies, which in turn reinforces negative thoughts and emotions. But we can change the way our body feels by using some good ol’ fashioned breathing techniques. Yes, breathing - it's as simple as that. Headspace is proving to be very, very useful to me and at the moment and by using it, I'm finding that my mind is freer to think more clearly and make better decisions.
2. AS WELL AS YOUR MIND, WORK YOUR BODY
It’s no secret that exercising releases endorphins that make us feel good. And along with that, it gives us a space to sort out what may be bothering us. I love to run and listen to something inspirational while pushing myself - often painfully - along. And if I’m a little grumpy at the start, I’ve usually thought myself into a good mood by the end of it. If running isn't your thing, why not try swimming or a long ol' walk.
3. DEFINE YOUR PRIORITIES AND SET ATTAINABLE GOALS
I'm ludicrously impatient, I'd say it's one of my biggest flaws and in turn that means that I want to tackle everything at once. Obviously that's not realistic but it often takes me a lot of stress and time juggling everything to realise that. Taking a step back to evaluate things and then setting goals or tasks in manageable chunks is key to getting stuff done and feeling more positive about moving forward.
I'm really lucky that when I'm feeling frantic, Joe is often my voice of reason and will help me see beyond my haze. For example, for me, settling into my new place is my priority right now because without that I don't feel like I have the capacity to work effectively - also, living out of boxes and suitcases is a bloody nightmare. Grrrrr.
4. TALK ABOUT IT
Seems so simple yet so many of us actually forget to talk about how we feel. Or we wait until it bubbles up and our words become Vesuvius - deadly and destructive. I grew up in an era of Spice Girls, Destiny's Child and major female power which definitely bites me in the ass every once in a while. I forget that I can still be independent but also rely on others for help when necessary. Find people you can depend on, open up to and crucially, who won't judge you. Once you've found them, start nattering away - a problem shared is a problem halved, right?
5. REMEMBER WHY YOU DO WHAT YOU DO
Motivation ebbs and flows in so many aspects of life; sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. Whether that's a hobby, career or even a relationship. A quick refresher on why you even started will help. Recall why you're in it and reconnect with your muse.
For me, being self employed can be quite a challenge because it's quite a lot to juggle solo but I think back to working 9-5, commuter trains, feeling uninspired and I soon remember why I made the decision to quit my job. Similarly with my relationship, long(ish)-distance isn't easy - lonely nights, train journeys etc - but I couldn't imagine a life without Joe so you just find a way to push past any of the challenges.
Momentary lapses happen to all of us, and when they occur get out of the house and out of your mind. Go for a walk. Ask for help. Know you're not alone. If any of you are ever feeling lost, confused, down or heck, any other emotion, feel free to drop me a message and I'll happily lend an ear!