Stave off stress

Keep calm & carry on

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In my very limited observations, I’ve noticed that many 20-somethings appear to be overwhelmingly stressed more often than not. From personal experience, I can say that I’ve certainly had my fair share of anxiety and panic attacks, have broken out with stress pimples, found myself lying awake at night incapable of falling asleep and many times, I just exhaust myself with worries. If I’m doing these things and I’m aware of it, I’m sure there are many others in similar positions. And although there are times when it feels like stress is running my life, it’s important to understand that there are easy ways to relieve stress. Your twenties are massively transitional – permanently moving out of your parent’s house, landing a full-time job, paying bills and loans off, looking for a partner to settle down with – a whole lot changes very quickly. As we celebrate each birthday during our teens, we’re painfully aware of the changes that are looming ahead in our twenties, but no amount of mental preparation can truly prepare you for what’s in store. So that’s why I did some research involving stress in young adults. It may not be something I can change, but it’s something I can learn to manage much better.

Stress is defined in the dictionary as, “a state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or very demanding circumstances.” As a recent graduate, I can certainly relate to the feeling of facing demanding circumstances frequently. Not sure if you’re stressed? Check out some of the symptoms here. Chances are, if you’re nodding your head yes to many of these symptoms, the stress monster has you in its grip. But if you find yourself hyperventilating before an upcoming exam that you don’t feel prepared for, don’t even take the time to look up your symptoms. I can tell you right now, you’re totally stressed out and you need to find your center again!

As a veteran anxiety attack victim, I’ve learned ways to calm myself down quickly before I feel like I’ve completely lost control. Been there too? Then let’s toss out some plans of attack to keep the enemy at bay.

When I start feeling overwhelmed, one of the first things I do is step away from what I’m doing and make myself a cup of tea. Many teas are said to actually help calm you down, although I can’t say it’s foolproof. I’ll brew a cup of chamomile or peppermint tea, and while I sip, the only thing I allow my mind to think of is how the tea tastes. You’d be amazed at how a few minutes can keep your anxiety in check. Plus, staying hydrated is definitely helpful too. Now, I’m a big coffee drinker and I’d pick coffee over tea almost any day, but caffeine definitely does not help in moments of stress. Tea is your best bet. But if you don’t dig tea and still want the calming benefits of the scent of chamomile or something similar, pop out to the store and buy a scented candle or two and light those babies up! The smell can just as easily calm you if you’re making sure to stop and take a moment to focus on the smell of the candle and nothing else.

If tea doesn’t help on its own, I’ll flip on some soothing classical music. Personally, I prefer classical piano with Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata” (Piano Sonata No. 14 in C♯ minor) as my go-to favorite. Music has been said to help individuals deal with stress, pain and other related ailments in many research studies, so it’s a pretty solid option. If classical music isn’t your thing, turn on your favorite pop songs from the 2000s and sing along. That’ll help reduce your stress levels too!

Maybe a few minutes of distraction isn’t enough for you to calm down. If that’s the case, another trick of the trade is some old-fashioned exercising. I’m not a huge fan of any kind of exercise, but it gets those endorphins pumping and can change your mood real quick. While you’re singing along to that pop song, get up and move too! Or get flexible with yoga or pilates, lift weights, do push-ups or sit-ups, jog around the block or if all of this is way too intense for you, slip on your tennis shoes and just go for a brief walk. Removing yourself from the environment where you were feeling the most stressed does wonders.

A few other things that may help fight off stress and anxiety are breathing exercises, massages, participating in a specific hobby like crafting, playing a game, watching funny videos (laughter is the best medicine!), playing with or petting a dog, cooking, or even allowing yourself to have a good cry can be amazingly cathartic. What’s important is that you find a way to distract yourself from what’s bothering you, and you’ll have to find what works best for you on your own.

So no matter what you do, at least make sure you’re doing something to minimize the stress. If you just let it consume you, chronic stress and anxiety have the ability to seriously impact your health. So be proactive and don’t get too caught up in strife and worries. Help yourself when you notice that you’re faltering or ask for it if you’re unsure of what to do. And just as good ol’ Walt Disney once said, “Why worry? If you’ve done the very best you can, worrying won’t make it any better.”

Cheers to a happier, healthier you!

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