“Stress is part of being human—no one can eliminate all stress from their life or prevent stress from ever happening in the future. The goal of stress management is to bounce back from problems or challenges and maintain wellness” (CMHA).
No matter what kind of life we lead, stress is an ever-present entity in our daily lives, and unfortunately it cannot be entirely avoided. Stress can emerge from external factors in our lives that we have no way of controlling… and yet, we must still do our best to manage and survive the stressful times that we encounter. Though it may be tempting to hide from stress and avoid stressful situations, we must also teach ourselves how to manage stress. How can we tackle stress while also acknowledging its presence? Well, the first step to managing stress is to identify the stressors in your life, and to identify why they are experienced as stressful.
With the assumption that stress is unavoidable, it rings true to say that we should focus on minimizing and managing stress, rather than eliminating it entirely. Our ability to react to stressful situations can greatly affect our mental wellbeing. Some of us react with anger, others with avoidance, others with sadness. No matter what the reaction to stress may be, we can be affected negatively by these reactions, making us more vulnerable to the negative effects of stress. Our reaction to stress can be managed through self care.
Where do you go from there? Well, implementing self care into your daily routine is a great place to start. It is difficult to tell someone how to exercise self care, because each of us responds differently to different stimuli. However, we all have things that we enjoy, and making sure we find some time to engage with them can affect our mental health positively. However, you must figure out your own personal de-stressors. One of my personal de-stressors is cleaning the house! When I feel overwhelmed by my thoughts, I find it helps me straighten things out if I organize the physical space around me. Also, the productivity helps me feel accomplished!
Needless to say, everyone is different. Some methods of dealing with stress may be intimidating or overwhelming to different persons. Not all of us enjoy or have time for yoga or a bubble bath (though of course, those things can certainly reduce the effect of stress!). The great thing is, though, that there are endless options for dealing with stress! You can write out your frustrations—getting all of your negative feelings out can help you purge those negative feelings[m1] . You can get a stress ball to fiddle with while you are occupied with other activities to keep you grounded and comforted. You could cook an easy-to-make favourite meal of yours. Send a text to a friend, spend 5 minutes doing your favourite guided meditation, stretch, write in your journal… the options are limitless[m2] !
The trick is to find things that make you feel comforted and find ways to incorporate them into your routine. Learning how to take care of yourself to reduce stress is a process; take the first steps today!