Some good advice from Claire & Me Designs.
We’re constantly being reminded that we’re living in a stress-filled 21st Century, then on the other hand we’re being slated for being stressed out. The truth is simple: stress happens. We just need to get better at coping with it.
We’re either ‘Too blessed to be stressed’ (the very idea of that is just utter garbage to me) or we’ve to ‘Keep calm and carry on’ (which works in the short term but is never a long term solution.)
I don’t have the answer to a stress-free lifestyle but it has become very apparent to me that stress is a Big Problem. After all, the newspapers are obsessed with it and it’s causes. Pharmaceutical companies seem to be making billions off the back of it. And we’re seemingly becoming more and more stressed out.
And I have reached the conclusion that filling your walls full of inspirational, quirky and fun stress-boosting posters might help. Such as this cute illustration by Laura George.
In all seriousness, though, it feels like we’re either doing too much or not enough with ourselves, our lives, our goals, our commitments.
We’re trying to juggle our happiness and meanwhile keep everyone else happy.
We’re smiling and nodding at the boss, telling them that yes we can do that bit of over time, all in the hopes of them furthering us up the career ladder.
We’re wives, mothers, fathers, husbands, girlfriends, boyfriends, daughters, sons and so on trying to deal with those relationships that life throws at us unprepared for and to ‘learn on the job.’
We’re crafters trying to push our latest project into making amazing sales. We’re photographers, dreamers, writers, intellects, artists and academics all looking for our break, our way into the World and for that penny-dropping moment of complete bliss and happiness.
Happiness seems like the anti-thesis to stress; wherever stress is, happiness is not. It’s like stress walked into the party and happiness walked out with it’s chin up in the air and a snooty snort as it passed stress as if to say; “Pft, I’m out of here! I’m not sticking around for any more of your drama!”
I definitely believe that happiness can be achieved in this life. I have experienced material happiness (as in the short-term burst of pleasure you experience when you buy something new for the first time) and I have experienced natural happiness (that long lingering and memory making happiness you get from wonderful life experiences) so I know this can be achieved. I also know that the majority of people in the World will have experienced the feelings I have described above – so happiness is real. It’s not some mythical creature that lives in a cave. It can happen to you.
There are no rule books on combatting stress (okay, well, not counting Chicken Soup for the Stressed Out Soul and all those like-wise books, of course) but there are techniques you can learn to avoid the impending doom of stress.
Again, here I go with the advice;
Befriend someone older than you. Most of my older friends have a much more laissez faire attitude towards life than I sometimes do. Like when I worry about wrinkles, my Gran will tell me; “You don’t have any wrinkles! Don’t worry about those things in your 20s, enjoy yourself!”.
Those who have more life experience just don’t care about life. In a good way. And spending time in the company of those who don’t sweat the small stuff will definitely have an effect on you. You will soon learn to loosen your grip on what does and what doesn’t matter – and wrinkles at 25? Perhaps, but what can I do? And does it really matter? Life your life without vain anxieties.
One time, while watching a programme about water-skiing my Gran (who can’t swim, let me remind you, but went down various water slides on a holiday in Spain when I was 8) advised me to “try things” in life. “I wish I had done that,” she told me, pointing to the screen where a terrified looking woman was being prepared for her first water skiing adventure. “You should do that.” Umm, while I don’t think I will take up water skiing just yet I think I will take her words to heart. Don’t sweat the small stuff, listen to your elders and heed their advice.
Do something you love every weekend. It doesn’t have to cost loads of money. What do you love? How can you do this for as little cost as is possible? Fill your weekend with things you love; eating chocolates and staying in your pyjamas all day? Doing housework while blaring music full volume? Taking pictures of old couples sitting on benches in the park? And if something does cost you some money, don’t STRESS about it – just let it be. You can make more money but you cannot buy a new heart (which will be in the firing line if you stress any more.)
Remind yourself that being a person is hard and you’re doing a good job. You’re not a terrible person. You’re not doing everything wrong (I go through these paranoid trains of thoughts about 1000000 times a day.) You’re not letting everyone down. You’re not disappointing your parents – and if they’re not happy with you, don’t sweat it, they’ll get over it and if they don’t? Well it’s still not worth stressing out over.
Get professional help if it’s needed. There are some things that need a professional. There is a lot of negative association with therapists, but if they work for people – how can someone say that is a bad idea? I have no stigma or issue with therapists. They provide a service and the process of therapy can really heal people. A lot of creative people suffer with mental health issues and it’s no laughing matter. Get help if it’s what’s required.
Knit happens. Knitting and other crafty projects can be very relaxing. Take on something relatively simple, something that won’t annoy and frustrate you and call it your Stress-Free Challenge. Whenever you feel the stress building up, take out the crafty project and work on that.
Take a chill pill. For years many have told me to “take a chill pill” and although I hate the sentence and every other emotion it drums up, it’s still true. Take a chill pill. Cool off and forget about things that don’t matter. If someone is being an opinion pusher and it’s stressing you – so what? They won’t change their minds about their opinions just because you’re right – in their minds they’re eternally right. Let it be.
Take time for a break. You make time in your day to eat, to visit the toilet, to do the basics so you can make time for a proper break in the day. It’s also very, very, very important that once you complete a huge project or task that you take some time out after it’s completion, stand back and take a deep breath. Appreciate that the hard part is done and now you can relax…until the next big thing.