Stress hurts, so many health issues arise internally from not coping with stress. We wash our hands everyday to help prevent getting or spreading illnesses, but most people take no precautions against the illnesses stress and anxiety cause. It’s safe to assume that there is a proactive approach with handling stress and anxiety and to wash our hands of such preventable issues. We can’t just wash stress away, but we can defend ourselves from some of the negative physical and mental impacts.
-Trying to approach mental health care through the damage control method is inefficient and unhealthy. A healthier approach to mental health would be to learn to be more flexible and develop mental tools to dissipate anxiety. It’s impractical to think that you could be stress free, because stress and anxiety come with the territory or being a human. Stress and anxiety are fixtures of existence, but they don’t have to hurt you.
An article on the negative impacts of prolonged or chronic stress on the body here.
My favorite ways to De-stress:
Hiking – Any physical activity will do the trick, but I am passionate about hiking. Sometimes a crowded gym, or a pick up game will drain me. A good physical workout should, but sometimes I find it mentally draining. Waiting for equipment, knowing others are waiting for me to finish my reps, watching people be unhygienic, seeing others lifting unsafely, or watching me, makes me anxious.
So anxious that an hour on the stair climbers and 1000 burbpees couldn’t wear me out. All the sudden I can’t listen to my body because I can’t focus. Luckily, I found that taking a challenging hike alone can help my body get the exercise it needs, while getting the mental charge I need to deal with people and stress. Exercise is shown to fuel the parts of our brain that copes with stress. A link to my fitness tips here .
Reading– Try plugging into a good story, or reading books that will challenge and expand your mind. This could allow some of the things you are stressed about simmer on the back burner . What ever you are reading just needs to take you somewhere so that you can come back to your problem later with some fresh perspective. Audio books work just as well for so many of my friends. The point is to find something that you enjoy and that will distract you for a while because you aren’t really limited on options.
Meditation– At first I thought the concept was cheesy. I eventually came to realize that I was afraid of introspection and of being alone with myself. I started to read about how many of the people that I considered “successful” or people that I looked up to practiced some form of meditation. Further into my research on the subject I learned that there were tons of different methods of meditation. For some, prayer is a form of meditation, for others it’s making art, or drawing a deep and aware breath. It does take practice, a whole lifetime of it. So you may want to get started!
Here is an article on how mindfulness can lessen acne and help reduce psoriasis flare ups.
Puzzles– Yeah, I like puzzles. I also dig restoring old cars, and playing the piano. The mandala coloring craze started because recent research highlighted the way activities requiring the use of fine motor skill activity reduced stress, lowered heart rates, and even lowered blood pressure. Drawling, coloring, dancing, needle point, cleaning your guns, putting makeup on, all require a level of focus that unplugs you from your environment. It shifts mental energy from the negative dialog going on in your head and tunes into whats going on with your hands or feet.
Here is an interesting article from Harvard University talking about the benefits of dance and activity that requires focus on fine motor movement.
Volunteering– I have been lucky enough to coach children, raise funds and awareness for CASA, Veterans Organizations, and mental illness. This past year I’ve volunteered with the Forest Service several times, doing things like making habitats for purple martin colonies in aspen groves and teaching kids to cross country ski. I believe in service, but not entirely for altruistic reasons. I think it feels good to help people, and it makes me feel good about myself and how I spend some of my time. The coolest thing about volunteering is that there are so many opportunities and ways to help people, that you can find something that you are really passionate about to teach or spread awareness about.
Music– I struggle to articulate my feelings. I will start to stammer and can’t string a few coherent words together. It is embarrassing and makes me feel trapped in my own head at times. However, when I hear songs that do articulate what I am trying to say, it feels validating. To know that someone out there feels like I do. Somehow I feel more resilient and less alone. I play and listen music because it is the form of art that best resonates with me.
Art can heal individuals and entire communities, see more on it here.
If stress and anxiety start to overwhelm you, and other parts of your life are starting to get a bit more difficult, I recommend seeing a licensed Mental Health Professional. I was a mechanic in the military, not a licensed Mental Health Professional… but I do know what happens when you start to ignore the fuel tank meter or check engine light. For most illnesses, across the board it usually requires multiple forms of treatment. You may have to adjust your lifestyle, your thinking patterns, medicine, and start talking to professionals and people that genuinely care for you. I wish you the best of luck on your journey and if you need support or more resources just let me know in the comment section below. If you have any methods of De-stressing that really work for you please share them as well!!! I personally suffer from anxiety and depression and I am interested in what you have to share!
Some useful resources on Depression, Anxiety, and related conditions here below.
Here is a link to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America.
Here is a link to the National Crisis Lifeline. It’s a suicide prevention program.
For Fellow Veteran’s – Please get help– Veteran’s Crisis Line
Lastly, I wanna leave you with my favorite quote. ” Blessed are the flexible, for they rarely get bent out of shape” – I don’t know.