“Why Am I So Stressed?”
This is the question that I ask myself every day. Because no matter how much I try or how much I wish to change it, I still get stressed when the time comes. And the time comes much more often than I’d like to.
I’m no doctor, I have no medical education and I won’t pretend that I’ve done a lot of research on it. What you’ll read now is not the thoughts of a scientist who has spent her whole life trying to find a cure for stress. These are just my thoughts. The thoughts of a blogger who has dealt with more stress than she could handle sometimes.
What Is Stress? (The Bad Kind)
Your body has some great survival instincts developed through the millennia. One of the most important ones is learning to be on alert when facing a life-threatening situation.
If you face a hungry lion, your senses go to overdrive, your heart beats faster to send more blood to your body, your blood pressure rises, the adrenaline kicks in, you breath faster to get more oxygen, your sight and hearing get sharper. You get the fight-or-flight instincts.
Do these remind you of something?
Now, if there’s a real life-threatening situation, these can save your life. But, when all of it is just your imagination, they just try to destroy it.
So stress is just this; you, believing that your life is in danger. Yeah, they’re right when they tell you that everything is in your mind. Not that this makes it any easier to deal with. It’s easier to deal with something from external sources than something that resides in your own head.
What Does It Cost You?
Having stress has a few effects on your everyday life. (On your health as well, but I’ll let the experts talk about that.)
Let’s talk about a few of them:
1. Inner Peace
Stressing out is a very mind-consuming hobby. When I get stressed over something, it ends up being on my mind every minute I’m awake. And if I’m very stressed, it takes part of my sleep, as well. Everything I live, I live it with this annoying thought at the back of my mind making every happy moment, less happy and every bad, worse.
2. A Ton Of Energy
You have no idea how tiring is to get stressed. (Or maybe you do and that’s why you’re here.) I don’t know if it’s the physical reactions or the mental fighting but it’s exhausting to be stressed all the time. Physically and mentally.
3. Lost Opportunities
That you eventually reject or not even start or give up. Just because you can’t handle the stress that comes with them. Or that it can potentially come with them.
Causes (The Not Life-Threatening Kind)
Ok, before moving on to the solutions, let’s talk about the causes first. (Again, not the medical ones.) If you can stop or reduce your exposure to them, you’ll reduce your level of stress or at least, you won’t have more.
My stress is often due to my procrastination habit. Leaving everything up to the last moment and then rushing through it does wonders for your stress level.
And because I don’t learn easily, every time I have a big project of some kind, it goes like this:
- Make a plan.
- Wait until the last possible moment to start.
- Rush through it, stressed out that I won’t make it and that if I do, it won’t be of the high quality I can do – while crying that I’ll never do it again.
- Get disappointed because indeed, it’s not as good as I can do.
I have to say, though, that lately, I’ve found some ways to avoid procrastinating. This video helped me a lot:
2. Excessive Worry
Oh, I’m a master at this! I remember listening “Crawling back to you” and this phrase stuck with me:
Most things I worry about never happen anyway.
That’s me! I’ll think of every worst-case scenario of a situation, I’ll pick the worst and I’ll make it even worse. Then I’ll stress about it. Again and again. And again.
Do you know how much mental energy is necessary to imagine all these?
After all this, I’m exhausted without even doing anything…
3. Life Changes
Changing your life drastically can be very stressful. A lot of things to think of, to organise, to manage. A lot of decisions to take.
Changing important things in your life is refreshing and it may be necessary but it’s usually a heavy burden. A lot of people blame their routine, but routine is easy to follow. And difficult to break out of.
4. Stuck In Your Life
Feeling stuck in your life? If this is not stressful, I don’t know what it is. Wanting to do so many things, but never do anything is a burden on your soul.
A lot of people consider it cowardice – and maybe it is, I don’t know – but personally, I think that it’s patience and selflessness. A lot of times, people get stuck in order to not make others uncomfortable. Not make others worry, or they feel like they can’t leave people behind.
Of course, sometimes it’s cowardice and it’s that people are not in such a bad situation and they don’t want to try for something better.
Trying to be perfect is a great way to not do anything ever. Ever.
And even if you do it, you’ll never be satisfied with the result. Do you know why? Because you can’t be perfect. No matter what you do and how hard you work, there’s always something more to do. Something to make better, something to fix, something to improve.
The thing is: Does it really worth your time to fix? From one point on, the improvement is so tiny, that probably, it’s not worth the effort.
But going back to the beginning, what I hate the most about perfectionism is that obstructs you from starting something. It’s really daunting to try to do something perfectly. How do you start? What can you do to ensure it’ll be perfect?
All this is really unnerving when there’s not a plan to follow and if you’re anything like me, you’ll keep postponing things until there’s no choice but to start. (Ahem, procrastinating…)
But don’t forget the motto: “Done is better than perfect“.
Well, now that we’ve gone through some of the causes, let’s check out some solutions. Because no matter what, you’ll get yourself into stressful situations. After all, anything important is a little stressful. Otherwise, it wouldn’t be that important.
Let’s see then, what you can do to avoid getting stressed or if you can’t avoid getting stressed, at least how to reduce the effects stress has on you.
1. Create A Plan
Sometimes we stress because there are no defined steps and we don’t know where to go. So make a habit of planning your life. Personally, I like making monthly, weekly and daily plans so that I know how close I am to my goals.
If it’s your first time doing a detailed plan, start with the daily one. Every night before going to bed, spend 5 minutes and create the plan for the next day. This is also a good way to manage your time better. Start with the most important tasks you want to accomplish in a day and move on to the rest of them.
2. Learn to Say No
A lot of times, you get stressed because you take on too many responsibilities. People ask you for more than you can give, but you’re too kind to say no. But this way, not only you get stressed, but you also run the risk to not be able to do what you’ve promised.
And then instead of people being grateful that you accepted to help, they get angry/disappointed that you failed at doing so.
So, if you don’t have time, just say no. You don’t need to please everyone.
3. Find Time to Relax Every Day
Meditation is a handy tool here. And before you tell me that’s bullshit, let me tell you the whole story.
I tried (unguided) meditation a couple of years ago and I was bored out of my mind. I was sitting on my bed for 15 minutes looking at the flame of a candle (to focus on something) trying not to think of anything.
That went well… I gave up on it after 3 days believing that this just wasn’t for me.
A couple of months ago watching a video on Charisma on Command (great Youtube channel if you’re into self-improvement), Charlie recommended a meditation app he started to use and since his story was close to mine, I said: “Let’s give it one more chance”.
What’s great with guided meditation is that there’s someone talking you through the process. They also explain to you that it’s not a 1-day thing. You have to do it every day consistently and it’ll take a couple of weeks to start seeing the benefits.
And yes, it actually works. I’m not at this point where I can instantly get calm when I’m stressed but it gets easier.
This is probably the most effective way to get rid of stress for me. I can keep my stress levels pretty low when I exercise every day.
I work on a computer a lot so I don’t have the chance to exercise while working. I guess this is the most challenging part for most people. They have to set time aside for exercising and sometimes, it’s difficult. Especially when you have your hands full.
Don’t forget, though, that the most important thing is your health. We tend to forget this a lot. Exercising is great for getting rid of stress and for general health.
5. I Don’t Even Know How to Call This!
Here is a little process I love doing every once in a while. I’ll walk you through the exact steps:
- Make sure you’re alone at home.
- Put comfortable clothes.
- Put an upbeat favourite song loud.
- Stand in the middle of the room.
- Dance like a lunatic until you feel better or get exhausted.
6. Stop Obsessing About The Past
Yes, it would be great if you could turn back time. But you can’t. I can’t. No one can.
So the only thing we can do is learn from it and then move on. Stop obsessing over your past, don’t torture yourself with “what-if” scenarios and keep going.
It’s not easy, but you have to learn to let it go (Elsa got it right!). You can’t do anything about the past, so learn the lessons you can and move on!
7. Talk to Others
A lot of people tend to keep everything inside (including me).
But if you do this, it’s incredibly hard to you because you don’t have anyone to help you see things how they are. No one to give you any good, objective advice.
Also, keeping everything inside makes you “rot”. So talk. Talk to your friends, family, boyfriend/girlfriend, etc. Or if you’re not there yet, you can start by keeping a journal. It’s not as effective as talking to others can be, but it’s a good start.
8. Make Time for Fun/Relax
Being productive is good, but sometimes, you need to just to turn off the button and stop working, stop trying to learn something and just relax and have fun.
Go for a walk, a coffee, a walk at the beach, meet with your friends and chill out or go to the movie, go for a trip, etc. Just leave everything aside for a while, relax and have fun. You need to recharge once in a while. Never forget that!
9. Get Enough Sleep
Did you know that the best way to wake up is without an alarm clock? Probably, you do. But you just don’t have the time to sleep early because you have a lot to do, right?
But do you realise that using an alarm clock every day doesn’t leave your body to rest properly? Not only you feel tired all day long, but long-term, it may have bad consequences to your health. If not from the lack of sleep, at least because of the coffee and the energy drinks you consume to stay awake all day.
Change your sleep routine and make sure to go early enough to sleep so you can wake up on your own.
10. Stop Procrastinating
It’s funny for me to say that because I keep doing it all the time. But just because I haven’t beat it completely, it doesn’t mean that I can’t recognise the benefits that come from getting rid of this disgusting habit, right?
So stop leaving things until the last moment so that you don’t have to rush to finish them while being in panic mode. I know that it’s hard to get rid of your procrastination habit, but just try it. Little by little, I’m sure that even if you don’t eliminate it, you’ll reduce it a lot.
11. Keep a Journal
Keeping a journal has a lot of benefits; one of them is to reduce your stress level.
At the end of each day, take out your journal and write down everything that happened on that day. Good, bad, exciting, terrifying, anything that happened and had an impact on you and on your day.
Getting things out is a healthy way to process them. So hurry and go get your journal. If you don’t want to or can’t afford one, just get a simple notebook and use it only as a journal.
Don’t write the grocery list on it!!!
12. You’re Not the Center of the Universe
Stop believing everyone cares about what you’re doing. Everyone has their own problems.
A lot of times, we feel stressed, because we fear judgement. So what if you do a bad presentation? What if your boss thinks your idea is stupid? What if you fail a class? After 5 years, you’ll think all of this and you’ll laugh! You’ll LAUGH!
Is it really worth it to be so stressed about something that will be a joke to you in a few years?
Is Stress So Bad?
But can you really eliminate stress from your life? I don’t believe so. But how about that! Maybe you don’t need to!
So here are my thoughts on stress. Have I defeated it? Heck no! But I think I’ve reached the point where I can handle it.
Well… most of the times!
Something else I want to highlight about stress is that a lot of times is caused because you get out of your comfort zone. And that’s ok. The more you get out, the more this zone will expand. After a while, these things that were so stressful, they’ll seem like a piece of cake to you.
I hope I helped you a little bit with my post. Let me know what you think about stress and how it affects your life. Have you made it your friend or do you still fight with it? Feel free to share your experiences with us, and if you have any tips to share with us, we’ll certainly appreciate them!
Any suggestions are always welcome, so tell me about topics you’d like me to write. And if you liked this, check out more posts like this.
See you next time!