Saturday, April 13, 2013

Managing Your Stress

From calm to freaking out in 0.6 seconds. 

Earlier in the week I was happier than I had been in weeks and more relaxed than I was even over spring break. And yet in a matter of minutes I went from being incredibly content and at peace to completely panicing and swimming in stress. Who knew a couple of emails with quick deadlines could be so upsetting?

For the next 24 hours I lost myself in the throws of stress and anxiety. I couldn't sleep and when I finally did fall asleep I would dream about my stress and wake up feeling worse than before.

It's a bad habit that I've gotten into to completely surrender into stress at the first sign of it. But this time I decided to step back and not let it run all over me anymore. Here's how.

1. Perspective. I can make the littlest things into the most important project I will ever work on in my entire life. In reality it is still just a small project with a deadline. Remembering that this one deadline, paper, project, whatever it may be, does not define the rest of my future goes a long way. 

2. Breathe. When I'm stressed I take shallow breaths or hold them in without being conscious of it. Just taking a few minutes to close my eyes and focus on my breathing helps me to let go. 

3. Laugh. When I feel like I'm really losing my sanity I find my roommates for a good laugh. While I may be distracting myself for a few minutes, I always go back to what I was doing feeling more relaxed and ready to get my work finished.

4. Awareness. Some days I find my stomach knotting and my heart beat quickening and I don't know what started it. I can be sitting on the couch watching TV and out of nowhere I am stressed. When I am more aware of my thoughts and what triggers these random bouts of stress I prevent them or get them under control faster.

5. Exercise. Instead of sitting around and wallowing in my stress I go for a run or go to the gym. When I get back I can think more clearly and often if I am stuck on something I figure it out while I'm working out.

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