Whether it's school, work, monetary or social, we have stresses in our life that seem to stay on our minds throughout the day. That nagging thought of how textbooks just drained your bank account, the drama and side-taking in your friend group, the piling up of work and the dwindling of free time: how do we keep our heads above the water and not drown in stress?
Stress and I have been in each other's company for as long as I can remember. But, stress isn't an enemy to me; it is the motivation that kicks me to continue onward. So how did I befriend stress instead of letting it eat me up?
List, List, Write It Down
A lot of the times we're stressed out is because we feel overwhelmed by tasks and to-dos. Then, we grow more stressed out when we forget about our to-dos and more issues rise! "Oh god HOW did I forget about my Psychology exam on Monday?", "Dammit, I was supposed to run to the post office a WEEK AGO." "I have SO MUCH to do, I don't know where to start!".
Keeping an agenda or portable calendar of important dates is a great start. As a student, you're able to see that your 10 page paper for Biology is due in 4 days and there are club meetings and work on days A, B, and C. Having a visual outline of your week can help you better plan and prioritize your mental list of to-dos. I personally prefer a physical agenda rather than a digital due to that sweet feeling of crossing out a task, event, or assignment that passed or was completed.
Having a designated notebook for a to-do list is also a great way to avoid the stress. Throughout the day, you can jot down thoughts of tasks you'd like to complete ("Okay, I have to do a chapter of reading for English tonight, have to email back my boss by Tuesday, I should register for that campus event before Friday, and I really should organize my room before the weekend..."). Having the portable notebook allows you to avoid forgetting an important task as well as actively write down your unfinished business and see what is left to do by the end of your day/week. Crossing out a to-do is a sensational feeling and I recommended keeping a to-do list notebook to guarantee to-dos aren't forgotten!
Cozy Home Base, Cozy Days
Wherever you end your day, whether it's your dorm or your home, making sure your space is comfy and safe allows the stress to shrink.
Lights Make A Difference
If you struggle from seasonal depression or can relate to feeling down from the dark autumn days, you know lights play a big role in our lives. A sunny, bright day is more likely to make you feel positive and motivated while a dark, rainy, gloomy fall day may make you want to curl up and die (C'mon, we all feel the same way). Assuring your space has proper lighting can lessen the stress and allow you to stay motivated and empowered.
I currently own white Christmas lights that add a warm glow to my room. In addition, I own a pink lava lamp which displays a hypnotic and calming show. On my desk, I also have a Himalayan salt lamp which lets off a comforting glow (and has a bunch of health benefits including lessening anxiety and helping with allergies, to name a few). I also own candles in my favorite calming scents. Alternating through this light sources help calm me during a rough day and I highly recommended using lighting to your advantage.
Tidy Room, Tidy Life
When I feel like the stresses are about to swallow me up, that I can't move because they're everywhere around me, I think of how to mentally clear a path from the stress. The same goes for my room. After a long day, coming back to a messy, disorganized room can cause unneeded stress. Rummaging through drawers and boxes looking for things because of disorganization can damper your mood. Waking up an extra 10 minutes every morning to make your bed and tidy up can make your return home THAT much better. Seeing a neatly made bed ready for you to peel back the covers and seeing a room with organized clothing and desk drawers can make you feel like a million bucks.
Stress Stopping The Zzz's?
After a long day, and a lot on your mind, hitting the hay can be an uphill battle. How do you win and catch your 9 hours?
Take out a pen and a piece of paper (or your to-do notebook) and jot down everything you're imagining. Do you have a list of things to do tomorrow that you're worried about? Do you have some things bothering you? What's on your mind? Jotting these thoughts down allows yourself to move on and find peace of mind.
Travel Without Leaving Your Bed
You've heard in movies "imagine you're on a beach in the Caribbean under the warm sun" or "you're watching the sunrise on a summer night". Get yourself dream ready by transporting yourself to one of these destinations. Download or stream some music such as "beach sound effects", "birds chirping", or "raining falling" to calm down and focus on relaxing imagery. I use the IPhone application Sleep Machine to create specific tracks and sound mixes to get me into the calm, dreamlike state. My favorite sound effects include a train passing in the distance while crickets chirp and an air purifier.
Life isn't easy, everyday we all have our own stresses. In my life, I use agendas, notebooks, lighting, writing and sounds to help alleviate the stress. I hope my blog post has given you new ways to ditch the stress and feel your best.
Cheers to more positive and stress-free days!
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