For those of us who tend to bottle up our stress, what are some healthy coping mechanisms that we can use to prevent ourselves from imploding?
I can really relate to this question; thank you so much for your bravery in asking.
First, take a deep breath. Next, keep reading.
I was so good at bottling up my stress, that I ended up being diagnosed with adrenal fatigue – a condition that is a result of chronic stress. My body really suffered from my inability to deal with my stress.
My biggest problem was that I really thought I was coping well with my stress (denial!). This can be a problem for strong people who are used to just “pushing through”. I was one of them. That is, until my body and mind completely broke down. When that happened, the tiniest thing would make me feel stressed. It became my habit.
The most important thing for me was to really admit that I wasn’t dealing with my stress at all. Your question tells me that you are already really aware of the tendency to bottle up stress – so that’s brilliant!
The second thing for me was reflecting – it might sound basic, but it really helps. Ask yourself, why do I feel this way? Is the situation actually stressful, or has it just become my habit to react that way? If it’s a habit, when did it start? What’s the story? Was it slow and gradual? Or a big traumatic event? Was it numerous things (almost certainly yes).
If you’re struggling, get a piece of paper and write down “why do I bottle up my stress?”. Then write without thinking. You might be surprised what comes out. I used to draw pictures without thinking – they showed me my mind, and some of them were very surprising!
In terms of practical tips, these little gems can make a big difference:
1. Learn to breath properly.
2. Once you’ve learned, breath properly every day when you wake up and before you go to sleep. As you are breathing in, list all the things in your life you are grateful for. As you are breathing out, release all the stress and negativity you might be holding.
3. Be in nature as much as possible – walk barefoot to get grounded – and keep breathing.
4. Drink loads of water – dehydration places stress on the body.
5. Try to avoid sugar – this is hard, especially as we tend to reach for sugar the moment we are stressed.
6. Find a meditation practice that works for you. The stress is stored in the mind; that’s why different people react to the same event in different ways.
7. Move your body – but not so much as to cause additional stress! Gentle movements, stretches, yoga and walking are great.
8. Laugh out loud and as much as possible – even if nothing funny is happening (I watch stand-up comedy but find whatever works for you). When you laugh, you automatically breath, and your body fills with endorphins.
I hope these tips help you as much as they helped me. I also really like this video:) Take care of yourself.