How to Overcome Stress By Embracing It

For a long time I’ve prided myself on my emotional stability. When people ask me to describe myself in x number of words, I usually throw in “easy-going”. It’s hard to make me angry (but please don’t try, haha), and I find it pretty easy to let things go.

The emotion that I’ve always wanted to control the most was stress. My weekly planning sessions, detailed to-do lists, daily habits, and self-imposed time limits are all tools that I use to keep a strong grip on life and to achieve as much peace as possible. You see, I don’t just want to manage stress; I want to have so much control that I can avoid it in the first place.

Sometimes, however, the stress bubbles up and I realize that maybe I haven’t been avoiding it so much as suppressing it. A particular day from junior year comes to mind. It is a Tuesday afternoon. I’ve been helping to plan a huge volunteering event for nine months and it is only two days away. I’ve never felt more anxious. That entire day I simply couldn’t get myself to calm down. After school and and a planning meeting, I was having a quick snack and hanging out with my family when I just burst into tears. My parents were taken aback, and so was I. (They made me some calming tea and made me watch some TV before I went back to work, love them)

That definitely wasn’t the first or the last time that I’ve felt that heart-racing, drowning in piles of work feeling. I came to view it as something unavoidable. Those moments sucked, but with all of the stresses of daily life, they’re bound to happen, right?

One day, however, I stumbled upon a revolutionary thought that shook up the way that I viewed stress, work, and life. What if stress… wasn’t bad.

Okay, okay, hear me out. Don’t click away from my blog just yet.

I did some thinking and noticed that I wasn’t stressed in the quiet periods of my life. I was stressed only when I was conquering big, important projects that always left me a better person—more confident and more skilled. It was always worth it. So what if we acknowledged stress for what it really was - a sign that we are challenging ourselves and doing big things with our life?

Instead of focusing on pushing it away, what if we stepped back, acknowledged how it made our body feel, and allowed it to exist as we continued on with our efforts?

What if instead of condemning stress and doing everything in our power to rid our lives of the negative feelings we associate with it, we put on our scientist goggles and looked it at it from a different perspective? What if we recognized stress as the physiological changes that are working to prepare you for the challenges you are facing?

Let me clarify - chronic stress is not good for you. You should not be feeling constantly overwhelmed, because that is actually very harmful to your health. But if you can learn how to view the stressful periods of your life in a more positive light, you can actually reduce your overall stress.

Try this

It wouldn’t be a Bliss Bean blog post if I didn’t give you some practical steps to follow, so here ya go. When you’re feeling stressed, here’s a practice you can try:

  1. Set a timer to meditate (or no timer is fine, too).

  2. Sit somewhere comfortable and peaceful.

  3. Begin by taking deep breaths and focusing on your breath.

  4. Then do a body scan to see where you can feel the stress. Don’t try to change it, just observe it. Work as slowly as you can.

  5. Continue to breathe deeply into the uncomfortable feelings and let your thoughts float through your head without paying particular attention to any of them.

Here’s a challenge

This week, take note of when you feel stressed (try using your phone, like a notes app, or a mood tracking app to make it easier). At the end of the week, take a look at what achievements your stress helped you to accomplish. How did viewing stress in a positive way help you to manage it more effectively?

Before I finish this post, an important reminder:

Remember to ask for help if you need it, and talk to your physician or other qualified health provider if you need help managing your stress/depression/anxiety. Take care of yourself.

I also wanted to announce that I am having a BIRTHDAY GIVEAWAY to celebrate the fact that I am turning 18 on Friday! I partnered up with some of my favorite brands and threw in a couple of goodies that I bought myself in order to provide you with a package of my most favorite snacks and ingredients to use in healthy cooking.

All you have to do to enter is head to the Instagram post below and follow the steps before Friday, December 21st at 5PM CST! (all of the rules and details are in the caption)

Good luck!

What is something that stress has helped you to accomplish recently?

Lots of love!
Beatrice x

How Affirmations Can Change Your Life + FREE Worksheet

What is an affirmation?

Before I get into why affirmations are so gosh darn amazing, let’s take a moment to clarify what an affirmation is. You might immediately think of that one SNL sketch with Michael Jordan. Or you might think, “Affirmations? Psh, that’s too woo-woo for me”.

At its heart, though, an affirmation is just a positive statement that you repeat. That’s it. It has no religious ties, it’s rooted in science, and you don’t have to have any experience with mindfulness or meditation to find affirmations useful.

How do affirmations help you?

Affirmations are intended to change your attitudes and feelings through the power of focused repetition. Choose the right words to repeat and surround yourself with, and you’ll be amazed at the effect it’ll have on your life.

A quick psych lesson you didn’t ask for (but will definitely find interesting):

Cognitive dissonance is when your beliefs and attitudes aren’t consistent with your behaviors. For example, you might hold the belief that cutting people off while driving is wrong yet you might do it when you’re late to work. Most people will feel bad about this inconsistency between their belief and their behavior and will either change their attitude (justify their inconsiderate driving by viewing themselves as more important) or change the behavior (stop cutting people off).

The chapter on cognitive dissonance in my AP Psych textbook ended by explaining that even though we can’t always easily change our feelings, we can do it indirectly by changing our behaviors.

For example, we’re feeling nervous for a big presentation, we can stand in a “power pose”, a posture that makes us feel strong and confident. When we’re feeling insecure about ourselves, we can look ourselves in the mirror and practice complimenting ourselves until it actually changes our attitude, or the way we view our appearance.

I was so excited to see that the kinds of mindful practices I like to blog about were actually mentioned in my psychology textbook that I almost wanted to rip that page out and pin it to my bulletin board… but I’d rather not pay a fine for damaging school property.

1 - Download image - affirmations.jpg

How to write your own affirmation:

  1. Keep it positive - Don’t use any negative words in your affirmation. Even if your affirmation is “I won’t fail this test”, you’ll essentially be repeating the word “fail” over and over again. You’re pre-programming yourself to flunk. Try rephrasing with positive wording: “I will ace this test”.

  2. Keep it in the present tense - Imagine yourself having already achieved what you want. If you rephrase the previous affirmation, “I will ace this test”, to “I am fully prepared to ace this test”, you’re affirming that you already have what it takes to get the grade you want. It is not a future you’re hoping for, but rather your present reality.

  3. Keep it concise - You want the affirmation to convey your message but if it’s three sentences long and has college textbook-level vocabulary, it won’t pack the punch that a good affirmation should. You should be able to remember it easily.

I’ve created a free affirmation setting worksheet where you can work through a checklist of what makes an effective affirmation so that you get it right the first time.

Find the download at the end of the post!

When can you use mantras?

Some mantras are specific to a certain event, like the “I am fully prepared to ace this test” example I gave above. In that case, you’d repeat it after your study sessions, as you drive to the testing center, and quietly to yourself during the test.

Others are more general, and pertain to how you want to live your life. Here are some ideas for how you can incorporate such affirmations into your life:

  1. Meditation - Repeat the affirmation as you meditate. It’ll help you focus your thoughts and your affirmation will be more effective in that relaxed state.

  2. Morning routine - Incorporate it into your morning routine to start your day with intention. Repeat it upon waking, or as you do your morning stretches.

  3. Journaling - I like to write my monthly affirmation at the end of each morning and evening journal entry. By saying it and writing it, I’m maximizing the affirmation’s potential to change my mindset.

  4. Before bed - Before you drift off to catch some zzz’s, repeat your affirmation. According to Psychology Today, your brain is most open to positive messages when meditating or just before falling asleep, so capitalize on that ultra-relaxed state!

  5. In your home - Write your affirmation on sticky notes (or create a cute printable graphic if you’re extra like that), and stick it where you’ll see it often. On your mirror, on the refrigerator, on your closet door, etc.

  6. While driving - Whether I’m driving to some nerve-racking event, feeling anxious about something that’s on my mind, or just want to steer my day in a more positive direction, I like to turn the radio off and just repeat a few mantras to myself.

  7. Whenever you need to change your mindset - Negative thoughts can attack any time of the day. Whenever you’re lacking motivation, self-confidence, or hope, an affirmation can come in handy.

I created some free lock screen-worthy wallpapers with affirmations on them for you to find inspiration! Find them on my Instagram, @theblissbean, in the Stories highlight titled “SCREENSHOT”.

Final takeaways

Marketers are constantly trying to blast us with the same advertising messages over and over again, trying to get us to buy their products, so why not take that technique and use it for your own self-improvement.

You (yes, YOU) have the power to change how you experience your life. Start making that experience a positive one NOW.

If you’re ready to see how positive affirmations can change your life, download the free affirmation setting worksheet!

Share your affirmation with me in the comments! I can’t wait to hear it.

Much love,
Beatrice x