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.
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:
Set a timer to meditate (or no timer is fine, too).
Sit somewhere comfortable and peaceful.
Begin by taking deep breaths and focusing on your breath.
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.
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)
What is something that stress has helped you to accomplish recently?
Lots of love!