- Sunday, 18 January 2015 -
Hello my lovelies! With the weekend finally upon us, it's important to relish those deliciously rare moments of relaxation and take time to unwind. Have that cheeky lie in, lounge around in your pjs, binge on Netflix - it's vital to grant yourself some me time and recharge those batteries. I'm what you could describe as a 'chronic worrier', never switching off and guilty of turning things over and over again in my mind. Having a regular sleeping pattern eludes me and I've never experienced the mythical bliss of NOT having something to worry about, like my mum always says; if I've not got something to worry about, I'll find something. Sound familiar?
Practice mindfulness: In order to combat the swirling soup of worry and dread in my head, I actively practice a method called Mindfulness. Ever lie awake at night, completely consumed by your own thoughts? Attacked by the "I should haves" and the "what will I dos"? Mindfulness means to live in the moment, when you're lying in bed waiting for precious sleep to envelope you, there's not much you can do to remedy these anxieties. So tell yourself to stop it, that it's time for sleep and embrace your other senses instead: listen to the wind outside, feel the cooler side of the pillow, drink in the darkness around you. This technique can be applied anywhere - perhaps you're washing the dishes and you find your mind straying to thoughts of bills, bills and more bills, try to focus on the task at hand: the warm water against your skin, the splashing sound, because right now there's no point in worrying.
Gain perspective: Like any other teenager undergoing their gruelling GCSEs, stress seemed to follow me around like a dark cloud. Obsessed with wanting to do well, my brain refused to switch off. That was until one day I gained perspective when a close friend of mine was diagnosed with cancer - losing sleep over impending exams seemed petty in comparison to a person's life hanging in the balance. Thankfully, my friend recovered but it planted a seed in my mind, that there's more to life than worrying. When you find yourself stuck in a rut, it's important to zoom out and gain some perspective, will what's worrying you now be worrying you in a week or even a year's time? Identify the source of your worrying and try to think of the worst possible outcome, and accept it. For example: you don't have a job so obviously you're going to run out of money and become homeless and probably end up freezing to death on the streets, but what about all that you DO have going for you? Would your friends and family really allow that to happen?
Take action: Stress is often a signal to do something. That bubbling of butterflies you get in your stomach when a deadline is looming could be a prediction that your procrastination has gone on long enough. So, take action and break down the task into little sections making it doable, not daunting. Another useful exercise for minimising stress is actually allocating a set time to worry, say you finish work on Friday and afford yourself an hour to mull over everything that's bothering you, maybe you could use that hour to write down your feelings or even chat through your worries with a friend. This way, throughout the week you're giving yourself permission to enjoy some peace of mind until your allocated amount of "worry time" arrives. By postponing worry, we save ourselves from needless mental wear and tear, and when the end of the week does come around, usually what we were worrying about seems trivial or has been solved.
Love yourself: When it comes to worrying, we're our own worst enemies - we talk ourselves down and doubt our own ability, letting negativity ensue. Do you ever find yourself playing the agony aunt and giving your friends and family amazing advice, only to wonder why you can't do that for yourself? It may sound crazy but do talk to yourself, if you catch yourself spurting sinister thoughts, try to turn them around, for example, you're stressing over the fact that you've gained a few pounds over the holiday period, instead of letting your mind spiral into a pit of self-loathing, tell yourself that this weight is only temporary and that everyone is in the same boat battling the post holiday bulge. Also try to allocate some much needed 'me time' at least once a week, where stressing isn't on the schedule, you'll find your mood lightened if you just give yourself a break.
What're your tips and tricks to stressing less?