STRESS: Are You Actively Taking Steps To Reduce Stress In Your Life?

By Nikita Gabay

What kind of stress are you dealing with?

With today’s climate in society, I thought this article would be fitting to these times. I am no expert, just simply gathering information that I found helpful in hopes that it will do the same for whoever is reading this article. Most of us have been home during the lockdown/quarantine this year with limited access to things we would normally do. Some with limited access to funds, some with more than their average access to funds. Some who have not been able to see their family due to travel restrictions. Some who are experiencing strife within their family. Some who need healthcare but cannot afford it.  Some of us are not even aware that the slightly irritable mood you’ve been in is due to stress.

I think about how unusual it is for the youth right now taking on this virtual approach with education, it’s like they have been robbed of that youthful experience. I watched my sister’s live high school graduation on YouTube this year. These youth must be facing  stress, I remember when I was younger and how stressed I would feel just to meet deadlines and family issues and my mother would say, you’re a kid, you have nothing to stress about. Wrong, I needed to express my thoughts to overcome my stress, so it was necessary to be heard. Also, children can experience the same stress their parents are experiencing if that is the environment they are exposed to. Talk it through with your children, it may just be a stress reliever but even if it isn’t they need to know whats going on to eliminate that sense of worry that may begin to build up,

Then, on top of all of those factors and some, we still have to deal with racial injustice. Daily police shootings, footage of police brutality and civil unrest. How do you find a piece of mind? It is a peculiar year indeed and I can’t help but think of how many people are stressed because I too, have my days.  Basically, if you are having a hard time coping with stress this may be able to serve as the starter pack guide.

So, what is stress?

Stress is how your body responds to a demand. This can be best referred to as the fight or flight response. Basically, your body decides whether it wants to put up a fight or hit the flight. This can be daunting because all of these outside factors can trigger your stress and some situations don’t require fight or flight so now your body is in overtime exerting energy responding to your perception of the world. The more challenging the demand, the more likely you are stressed. You want to be careful you don’t fall into chronic stress. Be aware of your symptoms and try to find methods that will ease your stress. 

In order to find helpful ways to relieve your stress, you must first recognize what kind of stress you are dealing with as there are 3 distinct types.

Types of Stress:

  • Acute Stress 
    • Most common
    • Short term
    • Manageable/treatable
    • Feeling demanded on a sudden challenge
  • Episodic Acute Stress
    • Suffer acute stress frequently
    • Disordered chaos
    • Always worried
  • Chronic Stress
    • Worn out
    • More difficult to treat
    • Stems from early childhood trauma

What do you think is causing you stress?

Stress can be overwhelming because it’s not caused by just one factor, there are many both positive and negative factors that can contribute to your existing stage of stress.

Possible causes of stress:

  • Times of uncertainty
  • Lack of or no control over the outcome of a situation
  • How you perceive the situation
  • Worried about something/someone
  • Being placed under a lot of pressure
    • Forced to make a critical decision
    • Meeting a deadline
    • Studying for a test
    • Mortgage/rent due but funds are low
  • Relationship woes
    • Conflict with parents
    • Conflict with friends
    • Conflict with partner
    • Conflict with self
    • Getting through a break up or divorced
  • Facing responsibilities that may be overwhelming
    • Big change
    • Getting married
    • Pregnancy/Becoming a parent
    • Moving
    • New job/role/position
  • Illness/Injury
  • Death of someone close to you, whether it be your spouse, family member or close friend
  • Lack of work, activity or change in one’s life
  • Long term unemployment

These are just a few of the causes I see the most, but there are so many other causes.

Can you spot the symptoms?

For me it has always been kind of hard to tell because the symptoms are pretty basic, for example, if I just happen to have a migraine. I don’t immediately think it must be due to stress but that’s where we may be conflicted because what if it is stress? 

Here is a list of a few symptoms related to stress:

  • Unhappy or depressed
  • Anxiety
  • Moodiness, Irritability, Anger
  • Social Withdrawal
  • Headaches
  • Acne
  • Energy levels decreased/Insomnia
  • Increase/Decrease in appetite

Coping Mechanisms to Relieve Stress

Now, for the juiciest part, figuring out how to relieve your poor body from all of that stress. I am the type of person who is always on the go, working on projects and tending to home needs so as you can imagine I get pretty stressed out and sometimes I need my ~WOOSAH~ moment. The main thing I had to realize was that it is okay to relax. Everyone is different, that holds true for me because I tend to overwork myself. If you are someone that is overly dedicated then you may experience the same form of stress as myself. 

These are a few ways that I deal with stress:

  • I pray. My faith is my basis because I believe God has a bigger plan for those that believe in him and what he has planned for us. With that knowledge I can get through anything as I look at life like a book of lessons and throughout life there are different chapters. Some chapters longer than other chapters because they require a few tests before complete. When I am faced with an overwhelming task , the first thing I ask is what test is my creator giving me right now and which lessons can I apply to pass this test. 
  • I tap into my creativity. My main hobby has always been art. So I hone in on my skills. I research new methods and apply them. I find ways to explore new skills and then I practice in my down time. I listen to instrumentals then try to recreate them. I jot down lyrics that randomly pop into my head and stash them for future songs. Creating art and music gives me a different form of relief, a relaxed state of mind.
  • I exercise. Easier said than done, right? Well it is a bit hard but if you push yourself you can get past it. I had to identify my weakness, my stress got the best of me. I would say around 2018 I gained a lot of stress weight. I couldn’t fit into any of my outfits or any pieces at my fashion shows. People kept asking me if I was pregnant and I said to myself, OK, this is getting out of hand. My fiance is someone extremely motivational in my fitness journey. Seeing him get it done daily sparked the same attitude within myself. He always tells me consistency is key, results don’t show overnight. So once I embraced fitness, fitness became me. Working out now eases my mind and takes a load off.
  • I changed my diet. For health and wealth for that matter. My fiance and I ordered take out food way too often thanks to the convenience of GrubHub. I realized that I was slacking and needed to be in the kitchen more often. Buying groceries could make a $15-$20 difference between ordering take out online. Two salmon dinners could equate to about $48 with tax and tip. While, I can buy about 2lbs of salmon for about $23  which can than be cut into about 9 pieces giving you 2 extra servings more. The sides are simple; biscuits, cornbread, rice, greens, potatoes, etc. Let’s say the sides add up $10, I saved $15. This reduced alot of financial stress.
  • I get organized. Whatever you need to get your thoughts organized, get it. My thoughts run rampant and sometimes I just need to jot a few quick notes or everyday notes. So I bought a dry erase board and hung it up in our room. Now, I can release my ideas at any given time. I create prep work for my future projects. Setup the outline, the framework so when I am ready, I can complete it with ease. When I have options to pull from, I am lessed stressed in completing my tasks.
  • I stop and relax. It is hard for me to just stop completely so my definition of relaxing is comic relief. I love a hearty laugh so I’ll indulge in some comedy- stand up, reruns of classic sitcoms that are hard to find or I’ll just make my own quirky videos. Anything to get me chuckling. Of course, my fiance does a good job with keeping me laughing from his jokes to his tickles. Smiling brightens the mood!
  • I talk it out. Whoever is your main go to person, have a conversation. Tell them wants on your mind, let it out and find solutions together. If you tell someone your problems, I am sure it’s because you believe they can help you solve the problem. If not, it is not their concern. If you feel you still have no one to speak to or don’t want to speak, no problem. Get a sheet of paper and write it out, or go somewhere quiet alone and record your thoughts. You don’t have to do anything with them, it’s just to get it off of your mental. 
  • I keep a positive mindset. All things are possible when you believe. Change your thoughts, your speech- change your negatives to positives. Try not to use words like can’t, won’t, never, etc. Have a list of positive affirmations to say each day and anytime you are faced with a challenge. You CAN do it!

The list expands every day, I found a way to turn these into my daily habits and my stress has reduced immensely. Again, I am no expert. You can go to the links to see where I pulled the information from yourself. I just wanted to put this article out there for someone who could possibly relate. Please, share your feedback. We would love to hear your thoughts and different things you do to relieve stress!

By: Nikita Gabay of W&R

        

Author: Wisdom And Royalty

Lifestyle | Networking | Blog Wisdom & Royalty aims to establish a network of collaborations through other creatives from the African diaspora.

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