Have you ever heard the old saying that there are only 2 guaranteed things in life – death and taxes… (a bit of a downer, we know). Well, news flash. We think there is a third thing to be added to the list, and that’s stress.
Before you read on, just take a sec to think of the different people in your life. Your bestie? Yep, they have been stressed, the guy behind the counter in Tesco, yep, he’s dealt with stress too. You know the people that seem to have everything together? Yep, even they have been stressed. Stress is something that every single person on the planet has dealt with at some point. And it is something that makes us human.
Now, where were we… So, the world is full of self-help books, meditation, hypnosis and other big ideas which are supposed to help you remain calm, deal with stress or handle anxiety. But what we sometimes forget is that practice makes perfect, and these activities are not quick fixes. Dealing with stress is about resetting your mindset, and sorry to break it to you bestie, but there is no quick fix.
But sometimes, when we are in the middle of a spiral, we just want a way to survive a difficult moment, and calm ourselves. This is why we have come up a few tips to help with stress and worry. What’s great about them is that they apply to any scenario that worries or stresses you. So have a read and stick them in your back pocket for when you or someone you care about needs them!
Wired For Safety
Our brains are designed to keep us safe. When we come into contact with a situation (or information about a situation), we assess what that means for us and respond accordingly. If we see the situation or information as threatening to us, our brain will send a signal to our nervous system, telling it to fire up so that we can survive. A fired-up nervous system feels like panic and stress, which isn’t pleasant, but it is a valid response. However, it’s important to look back on how we assessed the situation because that’s what sent the signal to the brain in the first place.
When we are in the assessment phase, we need facts. Find reliable sources with truthful and professional information. Did you look for all the facts, or was it hearsay? Did you ask questions to clear up any uncertainty? Did you Google it? Did you jump on social media and come across scare-posts? The information we take in will directly affect our response.
Notice your breath. Is it shallow – high up in your chest and collarbone area? Or is it deeper – in your rib cage area? Or deeper still – in the tummy? Shallow breathing engages the nervous system. Deep breathing disengages the nervous system and allows us to relax. That’s why when you’re stressed or panicked everyone says ‘take a deep breath’ because it really does work! Take 2–3 minutes, put both feet on the ground, close your eyes and direct your breath – fully in and fully out – and feel the panic start to melt away. When we direct our breath, we can direct our minds.
Irrational to rational
When we are in a state of stress or anxiety, the brain is in an irrational place and we’re not able to make clear decisions. Along with deep-breathing, there is another way that we can move our brains from irrational back to rational again: by doing something with our hands. This is a proven method, and you don’t have to be an artist! Here are some suggestions: jigsaws, crosswords, bracelet-making, baking, sketching, writing, knitting, colouring, scrapbooking, playing with a pet, playing an instrument … the list goes on. Find what works for you.
Help and seek help
If you are panicking, find someone who isn’t. We often seek out people who are responding in the same way as us, but if you want to reduce panic, find someone who looks calm. And if you’re the calm person, find someone who might be panicking and help them. We’re all in this thing together.
Next time you feel a little stressed, overwhelmed or worried, reach into your toolkit and practice some of our tips!
This is an excerpt from Tammy’s book – You’ve Got This! It is important to know that this piece was written in conjunction with experts.
When it all gets too much, you need some help and want to reach out, here are some supports
SPUN OUT: This is a one-stop-shop for all mental health issues. The articles are very matter of fact, helpful, and all bases are covered.
TACKLE BULLYING: Lots of resources for kids, parents, and teachers on dealing with bullying.
SAMARITANS: This helpline is open 24 hours a day and completely confidential. Call 116 123.
BODYWHYS: Online, phone, and group support for eating disorders.
CHILDLINE: Helpline and online support, offering advice and support to young people under 18.
BELONGTO: Support for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals in Ireland.
AWARE: Providing support and assistance to that section of society whose lives are affected by depression, bipolar disorder, postnatal depression, or suicidal thoughts.
POSITIVE OPTIONS: Advice and support for those experiencing crisis pregnancies.
TURN2ME: Support for anyone feeling anxious, sad, or lonely.
YOURMENTALHEALTH: Lots of information about Mental Health in Ireland.