Stress Awareness Month: Top Tips on Dealing With Stressful and Anxious Periods
Although we now know that stress and anxiety aren’t the cause of illness’ such as IBD, we do know that illness’ such as IBD can cause added stress within daily living and in turn, that stress can have an impact on symptoms of illness’ such as IBD – so, what can turn to be a pretty vicious, confusing, stressful, and anxiety-ridden circle…
I don’t know about you, but speaking for myself, I’ve had my fair share of people telling me just to ‘relax’ and ‘chill out’ in order to free me of my symptoms… Although more often than not, I try to see beyond this and understand that people mean well, ironically, there is nothing that stresses me out more than receiving this advice.
Without dwelling on the current dreaded ‘C’ word too much – it is an example of added, ‘other’ stress within daily living which just so happens to be a pretty significant one at this moment in time.
Understanding your own worries, stresses and concerns
Everybody is different and living within their own individual scenarios with their own worries, stresses and concerns not just in ‘normal’ daily living but also, in this weird and new alternative way of living that we’re all adjusting to.
Now, it would be contradictive of me to sit here, in my loungewear with unwashed hair, an unchanged bag, on my fourth cup of coffee of the day and, 8264375635th breakdown of the week listing all the lovely things you could do to live a stress and anxiety-free isolation period and in fact, life in general… but, sometimes these things just aren’t helpful either. I’m also not going to lie about the fact that I certainly do not have methods of living stress and anxiety-free nailed to a tee and particularly when the pressure starts to build, I am the queen of having a good ‘ol breakdown. However, what I can do, is use this space to be honest and hopefully, let you know that if you feel similarly, that too, is okay.
My scenario for this period is that I am in (or at least, was supposed to be in) my last term of my degree. What would have been a bloody stressful period anyway (and has been a stressful period in the build-up to this point) has been further heightened by uncertainty and expectation to pretty much just carry on ‘as normal’.
For me at least, It’s not always helpful to fill time whether that’s minutes, hours or days with doing ‘nice’, ‘destressing’ things. Often, having a lie in, binge-watching a series or even taking an hour long bath actually, makes me more anxious and stressed both before, during and after the activity if I know that I have other, more productive or useful things I could or should be doing.
I feel like it’s all about getting to know and understanding yourself. If someone on Instagram is telling you to put on a discounted strawberries&cream face mask and get some shut eye for an hour but you know full well that won’t make you feel better in the long run but in fact, snacking on some (or, lots of) strawberries and cream while you continue with some work for an hour will work better for you then, you know the drill… (that is, to do what you know will make you feel good rather than doing what someone else is telling you will make you feel good and then feeling guilty for the time you’ve spent and still not feeling good). You get the jist.
It’s also sometimes okay to acknowledge that others are in worse scenarios but that not make you feel any better, less stressed or less anxious about your own – don’t beat yourself up over it, everything’s relative.
So, ironically, I’m going to end with giving you a little list of the things that I’ve found that sometimes help me not only during this period but, during those other stressful and anxious periods too;
- – As difficult as it is, I’m trying not to spend too much time online whether that’s scrolling social media, watching YouTube or, online shopping. Although those things feel good and entertaining at the time, I understand how they can make me feel not so good in the bigger picture whether that’s consciously or, subconsciously. On that note too, for the time that you are spending doing things such as scrolling social media, understand who and what content impacts you in those not so good ways and think about reducing how you might see or come across that content.
- – Having a routine is really important and helpful. This doesn’t have to be some big master plan… by all means plan each hour of the day but otherwise, it can be as simple as waking up and going to bed at the same times – whatever works for you.
- – Get up and get dressed (even if this is into a fresh set of comfies).
- – Eating well (and of course, still snacking on an Easter egg when you feel like it).
- – Getting movement in – try new things too like running, home workouts, skipping. We’re fortunate at the moment that there are so many recourses and sources of inspiration being made readily accessible for us, make the most of the opportunity!
- – Speaking to friends, family and loved ones.
- – Having different areas in the house for doing different things eg, not doing work in bed and on that note also, keeping these different areas clean and for their dedicated purposes.
- – Trying to use the time to figure out and plan what it is that I want to be doing in both the long and short term but also, balancing this with trying not to over worry about not knowing what these might be.
- – Trying to be proud of what I have managed to do or achieve in a day rather than what I haven’t (sometimes difficult, I know).
- – Don’t be afraid to speak about how you’re truly feeling.
- – And continuing from the previous, don’t be afraid or hold back from asking for help with whatever it may be. I have a lot of pride when it comes to my studies and have never utilised the extra help available to me (silly, I know). However, this period has particularly difficult. I stepped out of my comfort zone, opened up to my tutors about the way I’ve been feeling and despite feeling a little worried and uncomfortable at the time, it 100% was the best thing to do and I feel better for it in moving forward. This is just an example but what I mean is that, usually, despite what you may feel initially, there is no shame in speaking up about the way you feel as well as the help you may need to whoever that is. Usually, people just want to help.
If anything, from my last 1000 words of blab, I want you to know that you’re not alone and that feeling stressed & anxious amongst many other emotions (whether that’s now or, in ‘normal’ daily living) is okay. It’s not about covering them up but rather, learning how to work with and overcome them.
Sending lots of love at this time,
For more advice on dealing with mental health issues, please visit the Mind website