Relax and Unwind
By Rachel Brower, UG Student
How do you manage stress? Did you know that every single person experiences stress every single day? Surely this is not something to sweep under the rug or be ashamed of. It isn’t some problem that you have to hide from the world. In fact, opening up and talking about it not only helps alleviate the stress, but allows you to connect with others on the subject and bring about positive results and solutions in your life. I am an example of that. Whether physically, mentally, emotionally, occupationally, relationally – stress can be tamed and resolved by communication with those around you as well as learning how to “talk positive” to yourself. Often times we are our own worst enemies and critics. If we learned to just move on, let things roll off, pat ourselves on the back, or say “I’ll do better the next time,” we wouldn’t retain and internalize half as much negativity throughout the course of the day. Whether you realize it or not, stress eats and chips away at you until you find out healthy ways to either prevent or release it. It can grow and fester into overall anxiety, depression, fatigue, and even contribute to chronic illnesses and physical ailments!
Yet the cliché stands true: realizing it is half the battle! Learning your triggers, things that make you feel anxiety, or preparing yourself before a stressful event can be a huge leap toward a more relaxed and well-balanced life! So what about you? What are your triggers? When do you find yourself the most stressed? And what can you do to prevent this from repeating again in the future?
For example, for me, it is when I feel inadequate or underprepared for something. Something is due or needed at a given time, and I cannot provide it, whether materials for a class or even forgetting my wallet and running out of gas! (This may or may not have just happened this week). Point being – life throws you curveballs and there are times where you just need to have thought ahead and been more prepared to manage things. In our day and age, we sometimes try to overmanage which, in actuality, leads to undermanaging. We try too hard to juggle multiple things within the arena of life that we can overlook what is very important.
So what to do about it? Well, first off I began to notice and realize that I had a tendency to get caught up in little details and not pay attention to the larger picture. I had a repetitive pattern of forgetting things because of this, thus leading me to feel underprepared in many facets of life. What I began to do upon realizing this involves writing things down as soon as they pop into my head. Being slightly ADD, I will have multiple important thoughts come in and out of my head in one day, but it is in one ear and out the other! I can’t retain or remember information. So carrying around a notebook, agenda, pad, pen, and even iPhone apps has become a lifeline to me! As soon as important thoughts hit me, or a teacher assigns a project due date, or I know I am going to be driving far the next day – I will jot down the important thoughts that go along with those! Sometimes these turn into to-do lists; other times they just remain a page of brainstorming to go back to.
The other cliché saying is true: once it’s on paper, it can be out of your head! This in and of itself takes off a surprisingly large chunk of potential stress!
This, as well as many other avenues, can be used to manage stress. While what I have been referring to so far are preventative measures, there are also things to do to de-stress once you’ve already experienced it. Let’s be honest – we are never going to be completely stress free, as incredible as that sounds. So the days that are a little more chaotic and random need to bring about a backup plan for unwinding and releasing the stress you’re carrying.
The methods are countless! Meditations, aromatherapy, baths, Epsom salt soaks, soft or ambient music, a night out with friends, a hobby or craft, art, writing, poetry, photography, detox, reading the Word, prayer, or sometimes dealing with the very thing that may be causing stress. Sometimes, relationships with family and friends can be a cause of subliminal stress, and leaving arguments or unsettling circumstances undealt with can cause chronic stress that you may not even realize is affecting you! Being sure to keep all relationships in check, taking the time to communicate clearly, and sometimes just putting your selfishness aside and doing something for someone else can really do wonders.
The Bible verse Ephesians 4:26 states “Do not let the sun go down on your anger.” This is a great truth to follow, not only for the benefiting your relationships with others, but simply benefiting yourself as a person! Unmanaged anger can sit and fester into long-term stress, un-satisfaction, restlessness, bitterness, and anxiety.
So pick your poison! Be creative! Get to know yourself and be curious about what it is that triggers you as well as helps you unwind! Try and find the most natural methods possible and steer clear from substances such as relaxants, alcohol, or anything in excess. There are very natural ways that your body and mind can learn to function and calmly deal with the life you’re given – but the ball is in your court!