According to the Anxiety and Depression Society of America, an estimated 85 percent of adults reported feeling overwhelmed by something they have had to do in the past year. Stress can have two effects: it can break someone down mentally–sometimes physically–, or it can wake someone up to perform better.
I work great under stress. It helps to prevent procrastination, and it increases my focus. However, that productivity only emits from a manageable amount of stress.
A little stress is beneficial. A lot of stress is not.
Too much stress breaks your body down, killing all productivity and tanking your mood at the same time. Too much stress causes you to need an “off-day”, which eventually leads to more stress from now being even further behind in your activities. There is a reason that stress is a killer.
So, how does one relieve stress, particularly while still being plagued by a lengthy to-do list? The following tips are the methods that I have used through my adolescence to relax my mind and get me back on track.
- Meditate. Sit on the floor and listen to your favourite music on a speaker. No one else in the room. No distractions. Just music. Close your eyes and breathe deeply in and out, repeating “in…out…in…out” to yourself as you breathe. Alternatively, stand before a mirror and recite a positive mantra like “I love myself,” over and over, staring yourself in the eye as you do so. Perform either of these meditations for a minimum of 5-10 minutes.
- Reach out to friends. Let everything out on them. Friends and family are great for you to talk to and garner advice from. My friends function as my counselors, and they are great at keeping my mind on balance. Your loved ones are there to support you mentally, spiritually, and emotionally. If they will not…are they really your friend at all?
- Tune in to your body. Lie on the floor on your back and breathe deeply. Mentally scan your entire body, starting by visualizing the crown of your head, and traveling your visualization down to the tips of your toes. Focus on any random aches or injuries as you pass them in your visualization. Envision them relaxing and healing. Let every part of your body relax and go free. You’ll be amazed at how well this works.
- Watch a funny Youtube video, movie, or TV show. Laughter is really the strongest medicine, and it is super effective for releasing stress. Pull up your favourite light-hearted or dark comedy show, relax on the couch with a snack, and allow yourself to veg out for a few hours. Let yourself laugh. If you cannot laugh initially, force the laugh. After one or two forced laughs, they will start to come naturally and will help you to start feeling more refreshed.
- Exercise. Exercise releases cortisol, which aids in relieving stress. As those feel-good endorphins begin flowing through your brain, it will help your body feel less tense and your mind more focused. Not a fan of cardio? No worries. Strength-training has been proven to be just as beneficial in relieving stress. Plus, using exercise for stress reduction could be the first step on the path of true physical health 🙂
- Journal your thoughts, frustrations, and worries. Great men across history such as Thoreau journaled. It’s a great way to deal with your problems. There have been many a day when I have furiously typed out a rant that I never published. Why? Because by the time I was done typing, it felt like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders. All I needed to do was to get those feelings out of my head and put them onto something physical. Reread what you’ve written. Reread it again. Comprehend your rant; it will help you to make sense of your emotions and to break them down analytically. Don’t feel like posting it publicly? Send it to one of those trusted friends and family members, and ask them for advice.
Do keep in mind that these tips will not work for everyone. Sometimes, people need counseling, and that is totally normal. Most counseling centres even have tables with colouring sheets where people can colour pictures like they used to do in elementary school, before adult obligations and responsibilities consumed them.
Need help finding a counselor? Most college campus’s counseling centres have walk-in appointments, where anyone can come in and talk to someone. Many churches offer the same, even to people outside of their religious beliefs. You may think that counseling isn’t for you, but think of it as a place to get everything off your chest.
These tips are also not a solution for clinical mental illness. If you are (or suspect that you are) suffering from a mental illness and are struggling with stress, please contact your therapist and/or your doctor for further advice. They will help!