And.. I’m back! After a brief and much-needed break from writing after Fashion Week, I have mustered up the energy and the interest to return to my blog — and what’s more, to really make this a thing.
Despite intentions to post more consistently in the past (and on numerous occasions failing to do so), let it be said that this time feels different. I’m feeling inspired. I’m feeling motivated. And with Fashion Week always acting as the very indicator I need, I have absolute faith in my ability to commit.
I come back to Currently Loving with a topic that seems to arise notably often on this platform — in spite of my tendency to, well, not love it. If stress could sponsor, I tell ya I’d be a deserving candidate, given the amount of exposure it receives here.
What makes the subject so consistently fitting, however, is the way it appears in our lives just as often. Like it or not, it’s an experience we all have. And also, one we have to learn to deal with.
If only I weren’t so stubborn when it came to the learning phase.
You’ll notice that this post is not titled “5 things I do to combat stress” — and quite purposely so. While I wish I could claim my utter commitment to these methods, across even the most testing of times — the truth is, that I’m miles away from playing the role model here.
In fact, I’m pretty darn shit at the whole “handling my emotions” and “not pushing people away” thing. That’s right. I don’t hide in the shadows of what I’m like — I know full well. I even have a rough idea as to how I could change. I just haven’t nailed how to implement it yet.
So I’ve come back to Currently Loving, like on most occasions where I have a pressing issue to discuss, in hopes that we can share the weight of this one too.
The following list comprises how I wish I chose to combat stress — not hours or days later, but in the moment itself.
1. Prompt an out-of-body experience.
When I first wrote this step, I thought to re-word it. I don’t intend to connote such a sinister aura, as the whole notion of out-of-body does.
That being said, I don’t think there’s a single better way to describe this step — than by use of the term ‘out-of-body’. Because sometimes, this is absolutely how far you have to go, to gain even the slightest inch of perspective towards yourself.
Let’s picture ourselves snapping, attempting to justify our own frustration, or just purely storming off. If I, in this moment, had (or more likely seized), the opportunity to view beyond my little, old self, I imagine I would respond in one of three ways.
I’d say firstly, who are you? Secondly — and do excuse the profanity — but would you stop being the biggest bitch I’ve ever witnessed? And thirdly, do remind me what this argument is about. These questions, or their answers, would likely be served with a large amount of my own humiliation and guilt.
When I’m in my own body, however, I’m able to reject every experience of these feelings. I’m able to avoid the questions. In fact, I can and do avoid all sense of logic with the excuse of stress and frustration.
It’s time we pushed ourselves to walk the longest yard. Next time we’re on edge of flipping out or pushing someone away, we should prompt an out-of-body experience; gain some perspective and only then, make our next move.
2. Don’t just prioritise. Decide what’s important now, what’s important to you and what’s additional.
People always emphasise the significance of prioritising when it comes to dealing with stress. But if you’re the type of person who likes to say yes to everything (me), you’re probably not prepared to sacrifice a majority of these tasks. What’s more, if we only ever completed what was necessary, we’d likely be miserable.
In a dream world, my overwhelmed self would split her to-do list into three categories. Firstly, into a list titled “What’s Important Now”. This would encompass all those things with unavoidable deadlines — ranging from work commitments to attending a friend’s birthday drinks. Both are non-negotiable: they have to be slotted in.
Then, there’s “What’s Important To You”. Often, this list has less of a deadline — but that doesn’t mean to say it’s any less important. It has its own category, after all. What fits under this list are tasks or activities that you prioritise for your own self progression and happiness. Exercise. Writing your latest blog post. Designing your website. Re-arranging your wardrobe. It could be anything! But it has to be important to you.
This list validates the equal significance of our tasks against those we’re obligated to do. With this, we’re granted the freedom to pick and choose between either list, according to what’s most necessary at the time: that we give to others OR that we give to ourselves.
Our final list should be titled “What’s Additional.” This includes all those tasks — like re-arranging our desktop or cleaning out our cosmetic bag. Whilst without doubt, these would be satisfying to tick off the list, they don’t require urgent attention. And they’re not worth including in our list of reasons to be stressed now.
So let’s do what’s best for us, and separate these from what matters. Our “What’s Additional” list should be ignored in most part — until we’re on top of (not necessarily complete with, but certainly managing to satisfy) the previous two lists.
3. If you have even a little bit of time (you’ll find you often do), TAKE IT.
In this case, I actually have an example which I can pull from my own life. That’s right, there was once an occasion where I (quite heroically) committed to my own methodology. Whilst it technically wasn’t my choice to do so, I certainly learnt the value of taking time — so what does it matter how it happened, right?!
I had a super busy Monday ahead full of many “important now” type tasks. That being said, I’d also booked in for a beauty appointment with Sallyful Beauty that morning. Given the tasks on my plate, and also the unpleasant way I was reacting to them (AJ can certainly vouch for this), I considered rescheduling.
I didn’t, because a part of me decided that a couple of hours, where I’d be forced to do nothing but sit, lay and relax, was just what I needed amid the rush of activity that awaited beyond that appointment.
My own intuition — or perhaps it weren’t me, but the fact I’d already committed to a time — couldn’t have been more beneficial in that moment. I took some time for me and came out happier, more at ease and more prepared to take on the remainder of tasks for the day.
The moral of the story is, if you have a couple of hours, or if you have just 15 minutes, take it. And for once, try not to fill it with work or something “productive”. Rest, watch TV or YouTube, get a massage, go for a walk. Do something completely unproductive.
I know how odd this sounds, given my every previous mantra to date. But bare with me: they’ve been meaning to undergo slight re-development for a while.
I’ve learnt that when you do something which benefits your own wellbeing, its always worthwhile. Always productive. You’ll be astounded by the way taking time to clear your head can set you on an even better track — had you decided to power through and ignore the available gap in time.
4. Recall previous stressful situations, and take from them.
I realise this step sounds totally counterproductive and potentially inductive of even further stress, but I promise, there’s a method to my madness.
Particularly whilst at uni, my stress levels were incredibly cyclical. Near hand-in, I’d grow easily agitated and then, at the very moment I completed an assignment, I’d feel happy and free again. In hindsight, my stress seemed laughable.
I wish that amidst each and every stressful moment, I’d remind myself of that after-stress euphoria. Better yet, of the fact that I’ve made it through EACH and EVERY stress-inducing moment so far in my life. I’ve come out pretty happy despite it.
I wish that at the time, I’d thought to myself: what are the chances this scenario will end any differently?
If only we trusted ourselves and our ability that bit more; if we looked at the facts rather than at our emotions — we’d save ourselves a whole load of unnecessary stress. The truth is, that against all odds, we always find a way to make it through.
So let’s enjoy it. Let’s skip straight to the task, and past worrying about the what-ifs of its outcome.
We’ll always make it through.
AJ asked me to do this the other day. He said, promise me one thing: that you’ll breathe today. While he probably thought little of it when he said it, it stuck with me.
It was a simple ask, and yet, an important task to put on my to-do list. One thing that I actually needed to be reminded of.
Of course, it wasn’t so much about lifting my chest up and down that I needed to remember. It was about those feelings and actions that breathing implies. Like stopping. Pausing. Taking each moment in. Realising that the tasks in front of me aren’t life or death, contrast to the way my every breathe is.
There’s a lot of power in breathing — and that’s probably why people swear by meditation. While I wish I had the patience for that sort of practice, I figure it’s more realistic for me to start small.
Have a lovely stress-free weekend, everyone — and try your best to incorporate these steps into your everyday! If you have any yourself, do share. I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Last but not least, good luck for any upcoming exams! I sure know how stressful that time can be.
Wearing: Missee.co.uk Carrie bikini
Photos by Adrian Jackson