I am 100% unqualified to tackle the issue of stress. I can’t even manage my own stress, I can’t even really think about my own stress, without then adding to my stress.
But, as a seasoned ‘stress head’ I feel that if I can get through the day/week/month fucking whole year that I am finding stressful, you can to.
Before my stress becomes apparent in my mind, it manifests in my body. I get a weird kind of rash around my mouth, from right nostril to right lip and vice versa on the left side. I like to call it a rash, but when I went to the doctors once, I said to Dr Fit (he is just so hot), “I’ve got this kind of rash around my mouth”, to which he replied “yep I see, it’s not a rash, I’ll prescribe you some acne cream.”
So when I see this on my face, or I’m feeling generally run down, out of sorts, I then have to rack my brain for what I’m doing too much of, what I have coming up that is going to require high stakes or what I’m dreading.
At the moment it’s university deadlines, mixed in with shifts of promo work that I hate, with a sprinkle of having to buy Christmas presents with money I don’t have. I feel like everyone at this time of year is feeling the stretch. Bank balance, work vs mulled wine, too much family time and to top it all off, it’s bloody freezing.
Once I’ve taken my head out of the sand, paused, wallowed a little in how stressed I am, and figured out the cause, it’s time for action.
I start by compartmentalising all of the things that are making me feel stressed or anxious, and prioritise them. At the moment this would be…
2.Work (it’s not the fact that i’m working really, it’s the fact that I’m sampling milkshake at predominantly vegan Planet Organic, when I too am supposed to be a vegan, and can no longer listen to people say “I’m not a baby Cow, so I don’t drink Cow’s milk”.)
3.Christmas present buying.
4.Boys (they always make the bloody list, it’s one in particular, don’t know why I pluralised.)
Once I have the list, I just step back, take it all in and realise that none of those things will end the world, start a world war or harm anyone that I know/love. Maybe failing uni, that may hurt me and my family, but no ones going to die.
I feel instantly better.
Then it’s all about tackling these things, one by one. When you think about everything, all stacked up in a big messy ball, it’s obviously going to send you into a big stressy mess. But splitting it all up just makes everything so much more manageable.
I do my essays in order of deadlines. I worry about work on the day I have work, and know that it’s only a few hours of my life. I order Christmas presents from sales, or make things, like chilli oil, chutney or candles and I look in every charity shop that I walk past. Let’s be honest we all have enough ‘stuff’ anyway. And I politely put all boys, one boy, on the back burner until I have head space and clarity for anything other than my own problems.
It’s also so important to make time for anything that calms you down. I go to yoga, even when I feel like I should be writing an essay. Or I have a bath, even when I think I should already be in bed. And I go to the library, even when I’d rather be at a boozy brunch with my friends.
Stress is a temporary emotion, and as long as you break it down in your head, the things that are making you stressed will fade away, come to an end or just seem less daunting. And then new things will take your attention. And so is the modern world.
I also try desperately in periods like this to minimise my screen time. Scrolling through, looking at other people that don’t look like they have anything stressful going on in their lives is unhelpful. It also wastes so much valuable time. In my rational mind I would also know that they probably do have things going on that are stressful, they just don’t put those bits on their story.
Head down, follow the list and look forward to something that you can enjoy once you’ve ticked everything off it.
I’m going to Budapest.
7 days and counting.