Adult life, I’m quickly realising, comes with a certain amount of stress. Job hunting, house hunting, signing contracts, working out finances…it can definitely feel a little (or a lot) overwhelming at times.
I’m not a person who likes to use the term “stress” as to me it implies a lack of control over my mood and mindset (I prefer to use labels like “overwhelmed” and “exhausted”) but I can honestly say that I’ve had to deal with a lot of stress this past week.
With a new job about to start in London and only a week to sort out getting a flat, it’s meant a lot of last minute decisions and a hell of a lot of organisation. Finally, though, it feels like I’m nearing the finish line.
As the stress is beginning to slip away, it’s given me a chance to reflect on things that have helped me to deal with times like this, and get through it with my sanity in tact.
1) Be proactive about what you can control…
I’ve found that getting organised and being proactive during a stressful period is one of the best ways to keep on top of things.
Writing ‘to do’ lists, setting reminders, delegating tasks, asking for advice – these things have helped me to keep the stress at bay as I’ve tackled task after task in the run up to getting a flat sorted in London with only a few days to spare before my new job begins.
2) …and let go of what you can’t
Being proactive is great but I’ve found that it’s important to recognise the limits of what’s in your control. During my house hunting I’ve tried to do everything I can to get a nice flat sorted. I’ve searched through flat listings and organised viewings, and when I found somewhere I liked I moved as fast as I could to make sure I snapped it up before someone else did. All of that was in my control.
What wasn’t in my control was whether someone got the flat before I did, whether I’d be able to move in in time for my new job to start, whether the flatmates I’d be sharing with would be nice. Recognising that these things were outside of my control helped me to relax and stop worrying. After all, what would worrying achieve? Nothing!
3) Engage in healthy distractions
If you’re going through a stressful time in your life, it can be tempting to try and work through the stress and get as much as you can done in as little time possible. I find that this never works. If you’re feeling tired and emotional and overwhelmed it’s impossible to be productive.
Engaging in healthy distractions gives you a much needed break from all the stress and allows your mind to reset. Things like doing yoga, spending time with friends and family, watching movies, having a long shower or indulgent bubble bath – they all help you to unwind and attack your to do list with new energy and focus.
4) Be honest about how you’re feeling
There’s something really therapeutic about admitting to someone, anyone, that you are struggling. Always putting on a brave face and trying to power through is exhausting and if you’re going through a stressful time in your life, putting on a show of how capable you are is the last thing you need. So be honest and tell someone how you feel.
Beyond simply enabling you to get it off your chest, you may find that other people will be able to help whether it’s through giving useful advice, a listening ear and some emotional support, or just taking your mind off it all by doing something fun.
5) Write it down, let it go
I came across a journal in a stationary shop called ‘Write it Down, Let it Go’. To me, this is the exact reason that I journal. Writing down my feelings, worries and frustrations helps me to get my head around them and ultimately let them go.
This works particularly well if I’m going through a stressful patch and I find that it’s a great alternative to talking to people if I’m not ready to share how I’m doing.
6) Imagine the best, prepare for the worst
My dad, who copes incredibly well with any stress in his life, follows the mantra: ‘Imagine the best, prepare for the worst.’ It’s a great attitude to have when facing a long to do list and multiple decisions that need to be made.
This mantra has fitted perfectly during the stress of house hunting. Preparing for the worst means checking through the contract really carefully just in case there are any hidden clauses that could cause problems in the future. While doing this though, it’s also important to stay positive, to trust that the world isn’t out to get you and that the chances are that it will all be alright.
7) Trust that you can handle it all
My all time favourite self-help author, Susan Jeffers, in her much loved book Feel the Fear and do it Anyway, argues that a lot of our fears in life can be simplified down to one overriding fear, that we can’t handle things. She explains that if we knew that we could handle anything and everything that came our way, we’d have nothing to fear. We’d trust that we’d cope and that we’d come out the other side a stronger and wiser person. So whenever I’m going through a stressful patch, I try and remind myself regularly that I’ll be able to handle it.
8) Reflect on the things you’ve overcome in the past
It’s easy, when you’re facing new challenges in your life, to forget the many ones you’ve overcome in the past. The times that you were faced with difficult decisions, logistical nightmares and impossible situations that you managed to handle. If I’m feeling overwhelmed, I try and remind myself of the many things I’ve overcome in my life so far and it gives me the confidence boost I need to handle fresh challenges.
9) Look after yourself
Probably the easiest way to reduce your stress when faced with stressful situations is to make sure that you’re looking after yourself. That you’re investing time to do things you love, pamper yourself, get lots of sleep, spend time with loved ones. A book I read recently called Take Time for Your Life by Cheryl Richardson, a successful life coach, refers to the concept of ‘extreme self-care’. What a brilliant way of phrasing it. Sometimes we need some of this to get us through tough times in life and I’ve found that it really does make all the difference in increasing your ability to handle things in your life.
– Tiger Lily –