How Do You Deal with Stress?

nothing-is-permanent
I wish I could remember this more often when I’m stuck in a downward spiral.

Everybody has battles to wage, and there are as many ways of handling problems as there are people in the world. I worry a lot. I mean, my writer’s brain easily comes up with ten different ways the worst possible scenario could come to fruition, and I spend most of my time battling against the worries of “what if.” One of the major ways I battle this stress is by occupying myself with the physical, mathematical, colorful, precise act of cross stitching. With cross stitching, everything fits inside its own little square, and by working one tiny bit at a time, you are quickly creating a thing. And it could be a special gift for someone else, or it could be an expression of your love of a fandom you enjoy disappearing into. It could be evidence of doing something productive with your twitchy, worrisome time, or it could be a communication of your thoughts and feelings to another.

coffeemessup
This is what happens when you are too tired to cross stitch, but you do it anyway. XD

As a physical action against anxiety, cross stitch works wonders for me. But sometimes it isn’t enough. Sometimes my thoughts are so potently negative that it requires a mental battle more than a physical one. And therein I struggle because if I could flip a switch and quell the thoughts in my mind, I wouldn’t be so stressed out all the time as it is.

{What I’ve come to realize is that this avoidance doesn’t make the stress disappear, it just pushes it to the background, allowing it to slowly permeate other aspects of my life.}

Recently I came across a mental exercise that has really helped me out – after I tweaked it to my own needs. Usually when I’m stressed out about something, I shy away from anything that even remotely touches that stress in the hopes that it will eventually pass on its own. Stressed out about money? Ignore your depleting account balance, stop spending money, and hope that things will right themselves without you having to go all mathematical on a spreadsheet or something. Stressed out about how someone will react to something? Avoid them and the topic at hand and hope that you never have to cross that bridge. Avoidance has been a huge problem for me, as you can see. What I’ve come to realize is that this avoidance doesn’t make the stress disappear, it just pushes it to the background, allowing it to slowly permeate other aspects of my life. So instead of just being stressed about that one thing, suddenly I’m twitching with nervous energy, suffering from stress dreams, and overall miserable with everything.

So this mental exercise is basically playing the “What If?” game with the scenario that you are avoiding. Instead of avoiding it, face it. Tear the mask off that piece of shit and just look at it. Are you afraid of being screamed at? So what if they scream at you? Will it be uncomfortable? Painful, even? Perhaps. But you can’t control how someone else is going to feel, can you? You just have to let them feel it and stand tall. Are you afraid of bursting into tears in front of them? Well, shit happens, doesn’t it? Will it really be the worst thing in the world? I mean, I am barely grazing these scenarios, but I don’t want to get too in depth – the things that stress people out tend to be extremely personal and they can stay that way.

stressjournal1

{It had to be self-contained and disconnected to anything else – like its own little box of stress, anxiety, and pain.}

In an attempt to embrace this idea of facing the stress head on – at least in my own head – I decided to start a Stress Journal. See, I even had to play a mind game with myself here because I couldn’t bring myself to use my regular journal for this task. It had to be self-contained and disconnected to anything else – like its own little box of stress, anxiety, and pain. Just get it out between the pages of that book and leave it there to rot. Using disassociation in that way has actually really helped me, because then I have given myself permission to let it ALL out – every worry, no matter how small and stupid, or how big and scary – with the idea that I could always burn those pages if necessary. It has left me with no excuses, and that is exactly the environment I needed.

stressjournal3

{Why is your chest so tight right now? Why can’t you breathe? It’s okay, just be honest with yourself.}

So when I’m feeling stressed, I pull out this journal and ask myself – Ok, Deb, why is your chest so tight right now? Why can’t you breathe? It’s okay, just be honest with yourself. And I think that’s the point, at least for me: the stress and anxiety, a lot of times, comes from the fact that I’m not even being honest with MYSELF about how and why I’m feeling a certain way. And in the process of answering those questions I am really able to get to the bottom of it, and although it doesn’t make the situations disappear like magic, it does calm me, make me feel better about them, and even causes the situations to shift into a different light. Mind games, man, I’m telling you. And perspective.

stressjournal2

{But this stress journal goes so deep into my fears and mental nightmares that I wouldn’t show its pages to ANYONE. And that’s okay.}

See, with my closest friends I’d be comfortable showing them entries from my regular journal that discusses my hopes, dreams, and responses to events in my life. But this stress journal goes so deep into my fears and mental nightmares that I wouldn’t show its pages to ANYONE. And that’s okay. Sometimes you don’t realize how much you lie to even yourself, until you start unpacking some of this stuff. If you can be honest with yourself and face the things that twist your heart into knots and tighten your chest until you can’t breathe, then you have gained so much power over your life.

The war is still ongoing, and I’m still fighting battles everyday, but I’m still here, and I’m still breathing. Whatever you have to do to help yourself, do it.

Do you have any tips and tricks that help you deal with stress and anxiety? I would love to chat in the comments section!

Have a wonderful evening, friends ❤

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3 thoughts on “How Do You Deal with Stress?

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  1. I’ve found that physical activity works better for me, as crafting is my happy place and I can’t actually do it properly if I’m too stressed. Yoga helps a lot because I’m really pushing myself so I’m completely exhausted after a session. Also I always let myself time to meditate at the end and that help a lot too 🙂

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    1. People keep telling me I need to do yoga! Do you go to a class or do you do it in your home? A friend of mine does “hot” yoga and says that it really helps her relax, but I’m just not sure, haha. I have a really hard time sitting still, but I think it’s awesome that you meditate – that must help a lot at the end of a long day.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I go to classes normally but I’ve been doing more at home recently as well. Work has been too stressful 😂 I think that your stress journal is a great idea though, admitting what is wrong to yourself is always the hardest part 😊

        Liked by 1 person

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