MY TIPS ON DEALING WITH ANXIETY & STRESS
If there’s one thing I really win at in life, it’s probably being stressed. Actually, I self-proclaimed myself the Queen of Stress. Reading this, my mom would laugh and Sasha would probably roll his eyes, because nothing annoys him more than me screaming at my phone and throwing it if afood delivery app doesn’t let me modify my order in a user-friendly way.
I know I have a short-temper, I get it from my grandpa, who’s the supreme universal lord of stress. Since I’ve been a child, I remember always being stressed in a way. But because I hope to live more than 50 years and I’m scared shitless of the worse effect stress can have in my book, premature aging, I’m really trying to control it. Having a heart attack? Meh… Wrinkles? Hell no! (Obviously, I’m kidding. Just in case it wasn’t clear enough.)
Even though stress can have extremely negative effects on your body, mind and behaviour, some of the things I’ve been experiencing the most are for sure symptoms that directly affect my body and physical well-being.
For example, I noticed a direct correlation between the moments when I feel really stressed and the inflammation of the eczema patch on my leg. When I’m calm and relaxed, I can’t even feel it, yet as soon as things get a little crazy, I’ll scratch it until it bleeds and there’s pieces of skin under my nails. Sorry for the gross AF mental image, just trying to keep it real here!
Also, I’ve had a nervous tic since I was really young, when I’m stressed out, I twist a strand of hair, which really fucked up my hair, giving it split ends like you wouldn’t believe. My mom says I’ve been doing it since I had the required fine-motor skills to do it, which probably means I was a really neurotic child. I got a haircut recently (which happens once every few hundred years) and then I decided I would have to come up with a serious plan if I don’t want to end up bald or with a missing leg.
Here are a few things I do to deal with stress and anxiety, that have really helped me take the edge off and become more relaxed:
This one is a classic, you’ll see it everywhere, but that’s because it works. It’s no secret that working out releases endorphins, which, on top of elevating your mood, help relieve stress. I try to walk one hour a day with the dog, but when that’s not possible, you’ll find me swimming in the outdoor pool or doing a quick 20 minute yoga + stretching sesh if I’m really busy. I try not to skimp on physical activity, and I know that it’s worth taking the time to do it even if I’m really busy, because if I’m stressed out and anxious, I know I’ll be much less productive anyways.
Sauna + Jacuzzi
We are lucky enough to live in a building that has a sauna, jacuzzi and heated pool, so I try to take advantage of those as much as possible. You gotta find what works for you, and being in a super hot environment or water just relaxes me like nothing else, which makes the sauna and jacuzzi places that really help me chill out. If I do jacuzzi, I’ll usually stay in for 15 minutes, jump in the pool, swim a little and do another 15 minutes of jacuzzi. When I get out, I feel like I just spent a day at the spa.
I actually wrote a whole separate posts about baths, because they’re something I think a lot of people don’t take the time to do, but should. If you don’t have a jacuzzi or sauna, taking a hot bath will have practically the same effect. It’s also a much more relaxing setting than the shower to start your evening self-care routine, which, to me, has the same effect as taking a handful of chill pills. This is an excellent transition into my next point...
A good self-care routine
Whatever your idea of self-care is, it’s usually pretty relaxing to take time for yourself. I like to get a massage every time I can, and I find it really helps with the “knots” in my back that are associated to stress. But on the daily-basis, I try to spend time enjoying my evening skin-care/after-bath routine, which means I brush my hair, apply oil, my face creams, do facial massage or facial cupping, body moisturizer, etc. Whatever I’m doing that day (depending on how busy I am) I try to really take the time to do it properly and enjoy it, visualizing the results and just appreciating that I have the time and luxury to be taking care of myself.
This one was to be expected on a list of things to do to relax and relieve stress, but it’s impossible not to include it. Whatever your style is - 15 minutes in the morning, a quick 5-minute break a few times throughout the day - it doesn’t really matter. If you do it properly, meditating really sets the tone for the following hours, so it’s all about finding what works for you and making it happen. Personally, I have a hard time sitting there immobile just breathing, so I try to clear my head and let my mind wander peacefully when I’m walking the dog by the beach. To me, looking at the waves crash and go endlessly feels extremely relaxing, but everyone is different on what makes them zone out. If I feel negative emotions about something, I’ll also try to visualize happy memories and think positive thoughts.
Even though I’d love to be able to do this one in the morning after meditating, when I’m in a super positive mood, but I just find it hard to know what to write, like I’m not very inspired. In the morning, I feel motivated to get shit done, so instead I’ll try to think about my goals for the day and write them down, like a To-Do list, because I find it helps me out actually accomplishing what I have to. I’ll do positive journaling at night, oftentimes on a specific theme, and I try to write down 6 things about my day: I’ll start with 3 things I wish to improve, and then 3 things that are super positive, brought me joy or went well. Doesn’t have to be crazy events, it can just be something small that made you happy… And that, in a way, is life-changing.
Reading or watching something funny
When I feel like tension is building up or I’m getting sucked-up into stress, I like to take a break and read a chapter of a funny book. It takes my mind off things, changes my mindset and allows to decompress for a few minutes, and that’s really all it takes. If things are really bad and I need more time, or if I’m in a stage where I can’t really concentrate, I’ll watch a short episode of something funny, like an old episode of Sex and the City. I know those by heart and sometimes, I’ll just have them play in the background because it keeps making me laugh and really lightens up the mood.
It’s very well documented that our physical environment can have a huge influence on our moods and stress level. To keep it chill around the house, I love to use my oil diffuser all-day long (in fact, I am absolutely obsessed with it) and just vary the smells depending on what I feel or need. There’s a whoooole other post on aromatherapy, so check it out because it has A LOT of benefits.
Cooking & cleaning
Before you start telling me I’m so retrograde, let me back this up a little. For me, even though I hate cleaning, it’s such an mindless task that keeps my hands busy, that it allows me to relax. What I’ll do a lot is put on a podcast or an audio book, so I can still get some value out of it, and either pick up the things lying around the house, wash the floors or do dishes. Same goes for cooking, except I love it. You can’t really argue that you don’t need an extreme dose of concentration to cut a zucchini, so it’s pretty relaxing, and an huge added bonus is that I get to actually make something that makes me feel good. Same for cleaning, a huge bonus is that it actually leaves your environment in a state that’s less stressful and more enjoyable.
So that’s all for now, I really hope these tips will helps you guys deal with stress and anxiety. They sure as hell help me a lot! I’m always looking for new things to try and I love switching things up, so get in touch if you have some other tips that work for you! You can leave me a comment below or hit me up on Instagram @thehungarianbrunette.
Love, Jenny xx
Pictures taken by Jaclyn Moy Photographer & Visual Artist.