Happy Friday All!!  

I have a question for all of you this beautiful Monday morning.  

How do you relieve the stress in your life? Do you have certain things you do when you start feeling stressed or do you just grin and bear it?   

I myself used to be horrible at managing my stress levels. I actually think I was a stress junky. I liked the rush of feeling stressed and often think I would intentionally create stressful situations just to feel that rush. After I got diagnosed with Fibromyalgia in 2004, I quickly found out that I could no longer manage my stress the way I always had. The more I let myself get stressed out, the worse my WHOLE body felt. Over the last several years I've come up with tools that help me keep the stress away as much as humanly possible. Below I've listed out the tricks I use and why they help.  

Also, make sure to share what you do in the comments.  You never know when you need another tool in your tool box and the more we share, the more we can help those around us!!  

Here are the 5 things I do to help keep the stress away:    

  • I make a plan and create to do lists.  

This helps me make sure I am always making progress at keeps things from becoming too last minute. This way when the last-minute things happen (because they always do) I don't already feel overwhelmed by everything that I still need to finish. Don’t get me wrong, I am still a procrastinator at heart and I don’t think I will ever get rid of that, but with a plan in place I find I only procrastinate on a few items or if I see my list is pretty full, I focus and get things done. Plus, crossing things off a TO-DO list gives you a sense of accomplishment and brightens your mood. 

  • I remember to breath.  

I know this sounds like a simple one. We all breath all day. But what I mean is I keep a watch out for signs that I’m becoming stressed. Like tension in my neck and shoulders or not being able to focus. When I feel these things beginning to happen, I remember to breath. I either do a box style breathing where I breath in for 6 seconds and breath out for 6 seconds or I do a heavy sigh type breathing where I take a deep breath in and then breath out quickly like I’m sighing. This second one really helps remove tension and helps to trick your brain into letting things go.  

  • I Knit, do something crafty, or spend some time focusing on a hobby. 

I know not every knits or is crafty, but just having a hobby of some sort whether its knitting, taking photos, reading, dancing, etc. really helps to relieve stress. A hobby lets you focus your mind somewhere else and helps your body and mind feel safe, which gets rid of the flight or fight feeling stress brings on. It’s amazing to feel the stress just melt away when you focus on something you enjoy that is just for you.  

  • I take a bath or turn on up beat music and dance it out. 

Sometimes no matter what I do during the day, I still feel stressed by the end or I wake up feeling stressed the next morning. One thing I've found is a warm Epson salt bath helps relieve all the tension and helps me re-focus on the things I can control. While relaxing I try to think about what's causing me stress and why it stresses me. Then I ask myself "Do I actually have control over it?" If I can't do anything about what's stressing me because I physical am not in control over situation or can't do anything to change it, then I move it into the I can't control category. I then try to only focus on the things I can control and make a mental plan for what I can do.  

If I don't have time for a bath and self-reflection, then I turn on some up beat music super loud and dance around my room like a crazy person. Just the small action of changing the environment and taking a moment for me does wonders for changing my outlook. The nice thing is it really only takes 5-10 min of dancing and music to take a stressful day or hard day and make it a brighter day. 

  • I write or scribble. 

This last one is really useful at night when I just can't turn my brain off or when I wake up in the middle of the night because I've been dreaming about work. You really know you're stressing about work when it enters your dreams!! And at night time I can't exactly blast the music super loud and sometimes the breathing doesn't work when my brain just won't shut off. I find writing down a bunch of words that describe how I'm feeling really helps. I don't write sentences or journal; I just write words like angry or hurt or time. I write them down as fast as they pop into my head. Or if I can't focus on just the words then I will doodle or scribble. I've heard people say journaling about their day really helps, but for me it was almost the opposite. Instead of helping, the journal would actually wake my brain up more and then I would focus even more on everything that was bothering me. I found just shedding the words I'm feeling really helps me just let go of those feelings and clear my mind. 

I'll even do this at work if I'm having a hard time focusing. I'll write down all the words that are keeping me from being focused and bam now I can focus. 

Obviously, there are way more than 5 ways to help with stress, but I find these are the 5 I do most often. Along with the typical making sure I get enough sleep, eating healthy, and trying to get some exercise in during the week. Although the sleeping, eating, and exercise has more to do with keeping my Fibromyalgia under control than it does with actual stress relief. 

I think the biggest thing over all is becoming aware of those warning signs of stress and then doing something that works for you to relieve the stress before the stress builds up. A little stress is always good, it’s the stress that keeps building that ends up being bad for our minds and our bodies.   

I hope you found this information helpful!! Thanks for taking the time to read my post and don't forget to comment below with the things that help you.