At times, I face stress. I think many of us do.
For some, content creation is the stress trigger—am I getting it right? What does “right” look like anyway? Does my audience even care?
But really, those questions can apply to almost anything, and stress can come from many places, like big changes on the horizon (or in progress), the desire to please those around you, and the expectations placed on you at work or in life or even inside yourself.
It can feel so overwhelming to be in the middle of stress, and often when you’re there, you forget what to do.
I’ve learned what I need, and have learned to force myself to do one (or all) of these things to help me move through a stress-filled situation.
1. Take deep breaths.
I have my wonderful mom to thank for this one. She taught all of her children the power of breathing deeply, and to this day, I share it with anyone I come across that is stressed. Look out the window or lean back in your chair and close your eyes, and take several deep, slow breaths. I usually count to five as I inhale and count to five as I exhale, focusing on those numbers and my breaths instead of my stress.
2. Take a walk.
Yes, we’ve talked about this before, in the context of switching from one mentally challenging task to another. But I would definitely categorize stress as mentally challenging, and I know that when I get worked up about something, I often need a change in perspective. Being outside, moving my body, looking up at the sky—these things bring that change for me.
3. Write it down.
Obviously, the person who works with words is going to recommend writing. But honestly, just sit down and type (or write by hand—a novel thought!) “I’m overwhelmed because…” or “I feel anxiety because…” and just go from there. You may find yourself surprised at how many true, clear thoughts come racing from your brain and onto paper.
Often, this step helps me with the next one.
4. Get real.
Try to figure out what’s really bothering you. For me, and probably for many of us, I think it’s a fear of not being good enough. At what? I couldn’t say. I’m pretty amazing at many things, and I’ve learned how to not commit to doing things I’m not good at, so the problem should be solved, right?
Well, I think the fact that I just sat here for a minute or two resisting typing out some version of “Not to toot my own horn, but…” or “I’m not trying to brag, but…” before I wrote, “I’m pretty amazing at many things” tells you the answer to that one.
5. Do what you can.
Can you make a (good, positive, not reaction-based) change that will help alleviate or prevent the stress? Figure that one out and, if it’s feasible, go do that thing. It may be adding something to the situation (hiring help, gaining info by reading a book or taking a class, and so on) or removing something (writing once a week instead of twice, cutting out one or two social media platforms, and so on).
6. Prepare for next time.
Keep a list of strategies that work for you (for example, save a document titled “Stress”), and then next time you feel stressed, pull out the list and walk through the steps. Just knowing that strategies are in place helps me feel more confident!
If you have other ideas, I’d love to hear them! We all face so many of the same things, and I love that we live in a time where it's easy to share solutions that really work.