Conquering the Stress

Conquering the Stress

What do you do when it all gets too much? how do you manage to navigate your way through all of life’s challenges that are thrown at you on a daily basis? Basically, how do you cope?

We all have our own little struggles, sometimes small and other times the slightly larger, OMG my world world is collapsing around me kind of struggles but most of the time they land somewhere in between (at least for me anyway). Yet, no matter what has been bugging you/stressing you out the vast majority of people (hopefully including you) have developed your own little set of go-to strategies that have got you through. 

So it turns out I have several, some are more general like watch something funny on TV, make sure I go for lunch with work colleagues etc and some I only use for specific stresses, e.g. I instantly reach for my collection of Disney films when I’m ill or I will whack on Oasis when I’m missing Manchester etc. So turns out I also have a couple of habits that I have picked up which I use to de-stress and calm my over-thinking brain down. It wasn’t until a conversation with a friend a few weeks ago that i realised just how essential these 2 things have been.

The first one is writing. Ok so I haven’t been blogging for that long but I have been writing in one form or another for most of my life. Expressing what I’m feeling doesn’t always come easy but writing does. Ok so I don’t always share what I’ve written with anybody but telling the paper is a starting point that more often than not leads to talking.¬†Then there is my stupid over-working, over-thinking brain that stops me from sleeping or sometimes there is that much going on in my head that by writing it down I can actually make sense of it.

Interestingly, my volume of writing dwindled significantly after I met J and for the time that we were together – there was a level of trust between us that came easy and that I hadn’t had with anyone else before. In the last couple of months it has increased again.

My second habit is again something I have grown up doing but have only recently realised exactly how much I rely on it. It is exercise. I knew that it helped me de-stress, as it helped me get through all my exams. It allowed me to compartmentalize bit of my life so that when I was at the pool training that was all I focussed on. There was nothing else. So the days worries quickly vanished.

I stopped training just before I turned 19 and struggled to find any real enjoyment with any form of exercise up until about 12 months ago. So besides the obvious weight gain I also lost the added extra benefits to do with my mental health. Looking back, it was the making myself go and do some gym classes that really helped pull me out of my depression during the 1st year of my PhD. And on those days where I’m feeling a little sh***y but force myself to go the gym anyway I end up feeling so much better. Plus the added bonus of getting fit again!

It’s kind of strange how the stuff we did as children can help us cope with all the stresses of adult life, whether that is writing and exercise like me or something even more creative like painting, photography or making things or even just being outside. I’d love to hear what get you through the jungle of adulthood (or the forest of teenage years if thats you). Maybe your habits could help others cope better?

2 thoughts on “Conquering the Stress

  1. Ann Masten (2001) in her paper “Ordinary magic” said that what surprised her with resilience in people in how people coped with adversities was not extraordinary abilities but often times, it was the ordinary stuff. Goin & Mill (2013) showed that spouses were able to cope with suicide of their loved ones through avenues such as “just keeping busy and having a routine, finding comfort in nature, laughing, dancing, writing, painting, walking or having others pray for them”. For me, it’s long drives or watching movies

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