Last week, I gave my tips on sleep for improved mental health. This week, I’ll be sharing my guide to stress relieving activities (other than going to the gym!)
The key to relieving stress is first identifying what kind of stress you are experiencing. The most common types of stress include: physical (lack of sleep, work), mental (anxiety, depression), and psycho-spiritual (finances, relationships). Identifying stress helps us determine what we need to do to get rid of it.
This is arguably the easiest stress to relieve because it is environmental, and you can make a choice to decrease its volume. For example, stress incurred from lack of sleep can be managed by establishing a sleep schedule. On the other hand, stress incurred from work can be managed by decreasing burnout. Ninety-seven percent of the time, work-related stress is due to burnout, whether as a result of long hours, difficult consumers, or poor interactions with coworkers and superiors. Burnout is best dealt with by taking time for yourself. Find what it is you enjoy doing, that allows you to not think about the stressors. For me, that could be coloring, creative writing, or exercising.
This is probably the hardest stress to relieve, because it is governed by your conscious AND your subconscious mind. Jason Brand gave an exceptional presentation in September about how mentality plays a role in what we do in the gym. I thought it was a great presentation for athletes, but I struggled with how to apply it to everyday life. He mentioned that your subconscious
mind is like a sticky note. Very simple and direct. But your conscious mind is like a rocket ship, very complex and vague. Jason said that your subconscious mind is capable of handling more than we think, but we often choose to listen to our conscious mind. Applying this concept to mental stress, we often get wrapped up in small tidbits of our day that cause us anxiety, or fear, or depression, or even excitement, that it overwhelms us. To manage mental stress, it is important to find a way to lis
ten past the conscious mind, telling you that you should be anxious. This could be in the form of a saying you keep in the back of your mind, something you say aloud to yourself, or something that an accountability partner may say to you.
This is the glittery unicorn of stresses, because it is one that we often neglect to identify the most, because it is the root of other stresses. For example, financial stress could be a root cause of depression stresses, and therefore physical stresses that arise in our sleeping habits. Likewise, relationship stress could be a root cause of anxiety stresses, and therefore work stresses. Psycho-spiritual stresses tend to link our personal and our professional lives, two things that many of us may fight hard to separate. But the fact is, most of the time we can’t speak to our professional life without speaking to our personal life, as well. Unfortunately, I d
on’t have good advice for managing this kind of stress, because I struggle with it daily. The one thing that has helped me through the haze is first learning how to listen, and then learning how to talk. Surround yourself with people who can be understanding. More importantly, lean on those people who can sometimes listen without giving advice. The challenge for this part of my series is to identify one stress in your life, and find a way to manage it. No idea where to begin? Begin with someone else, because I guarantee you that someone else is in your position. Hold each other accountable!