Wednesday

10 ways to deal with stress


Ok, guys. Time to get a bit heavy with you here: I'm currently signed off work with stress. I've mentioned my ongoing health problems here and there (such as the time I had an MRI) but, in case you've missed it, I've been suffering with dizziness and loss of balance since November time. A couple of weeks ago, it took a turn for the worse. I managed to fall over on an escalator at Reading station during morning rush hour, wounding both my legs and my pride, and I also experienced sleep paralysis for the first time, which was pretty terrifying to be honest. Being sensible (and more than a little bit in love with my GP), I popped over to my doctor's surgery and he was concerned that my symptoms were being exacerbated by stress. And so it is that I'm signed off for two weeks while I try to relax, and preferably stay off the floor.

At first, I felt a huge sense of relief: Two whole weeks to just concentrate on myself and getting better. The next day, however, I was already feeling panicky about not being at work. Did they think I was slacking off? Were people gossiping about me? Do my class prefer their supply teacher over me? (Ok, that last one was a joke... kind of).

In order to alleviate these feelings, I've been turning to a range of different coping strategies to take my mind off things and calm me down, and I thought it might be helpful to share these with you.

1. Go for a walk

I went for a little stroll around my local area and ended up sitting on a little dock next to a pond that I was only half aware of. Whilst sitting there, I spotted a little terrapin floating around. I named him Terence. He's now my friend. 

2. Binge watch TV

I started rewatching Charmed in the summer but didn't get past season 5. This is my time to pick up where I left off. There's something very cathartic about watching demons blown to smithereens.

3. Learn a new language

I'm still trying to develop my limited GCSE German using Duolingo. Since I started back at work after half term, I haven't really had the time to devote to the language, so this is a chance to stick at it. 

4. Meet up with someone

Even if you're just going to go and sit in someone's living room for an hour, actually having human contact and talking to another person can be hugely beneficial. It gets you out of the house, takes your mind off things and gives you somebody to vent to if needed. 

5. Draw

Art is my thing. Nothing calms me down more than drawing, preferably something intricate using black ink. I can get totally sucked into my work and resurface a couple of hours later with no idea where the time has gone. 

6. Dance around like an idiot
Remember that awkward moment in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows pt I when Harry and Hermione spontaneously start dancing in the tent? Turns out it helps, even when your dancing partner Rich has all the coordination of Daniel Radcliffe. 

7. Work

Yes, this is stupid. I'm meant to be off work, so I shouldn't be working, I know. But when I start panicking about coming across as a slacker, it really helps me to send some work-related emails or start a bit of planning. It makes me feel like I'm still doing something, rather than slobbing out in front of Jeremy Kyle. 

8. Get out of the house and do something!
Of course, I've been deemed unfit for work, so I'm not suggesting you go gallivanting around the country living the high life. If I could do that, I'd be at work! But just taking an afternoon out to visit a museum or art gallery can be hugely therapeutic. They're such peaceful places and I always feel relaxed in them. 

9. Play an instrument

A couple of years ago, I began to learn how to play the ukulele. Then I started back at work and ran out of time. I've found it really helps to choose one simple song and practise, practise, practise. It takes a lot of concentration, the repetition is soothing and it's such a huge sense of achievement when you finally manage it! 

10. Watch Alan Rickman
...Ok, that one might just be me! 

I'd love to hear your ways of coping with stress. If you have any different methods, please do let me know in the comments. 

36 comments :

  1. Oh no I'm so sorry to hear that, that sounds really awful. I have suffered from dizziness in the past too (although luckily I've always had a chair nearby to plonk myself down onto) and my doctor discovered it was an iron deficiency! Maybe you could explore that route too? xxx
    Lucy @ La Lingua : Life in Italy

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    1. Is that linked to anaemia? I had blood tests for all sorts of things. I can't remember if we looked into iron or not.

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  2. Great suggestions! I'm a fan of listening to records to help me chill out, or spending time doing nail art. I also love getting out to museums and the beach. Plus a good book helps too! Hope you're back on your feet soon ;)

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    1. I'm terrible at nail art- It would just make me more stressed haha! Totally agree about a book though. Thank you :)

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  3. Good on you for writing this post, Becky. I'm sorry to hear you've been ill, but you're definitely doing the right thing. You need to think long-term, and think of yourself and your mental health. Teaching is such a ridiculously mental job and we can often get sucked into a neverending spiral... it's important to prioritise and think of yourself. I'm one to talk, though. It's so difficult to pull yourself out, isn't it?

    So, in regards to your question about how we cope. To be honest, I don't really struggle with stress. I'm pretty heavily medicated for clinical depression, and it makes me feel so... NORMAL. Instantly, everything just felt like it was levelled, and balanced, and *right*. I was really against medication before, and I think people have preconceived ideas of mental health. My doctor totally hit the nail on the head though... she said: "Why do you need a REASON to have mental health issues? Does a diabetic need a REASON to have diabetes? Do we judge a diabetic for taking insulin? So why should you judge people who take anti depressants? Cancer is a mutation of the cells. Depression is just a mutation of the chemicals in your brain. Just like diabetes, there's an imbalance. Just like a diabetic needs medication, so do you."

    I don't know if you could take any medication for stress, or if it's something that you would consider. But I was *so* prejudiced against it before, and it's honestly, and very literally saved my life. I know depression and stress aren't entirely linked, but I really want you to know that taking a chance can help.

    Rather than trying to push drugs on you, I find all of my coping strategies are related to my depression rather than stress, and don't think they'd help?! The main thing for me is routine, routine, routine. I need to treat myself like a child, with set bedtime routines and morning strategies...

    I hope you feel better soon m'love. Not long til August and our glorious meeeeeet! xx

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    1. Thank you so, so, so much for this wonderful comment Kirsty! It's really important to hear from somebody who understands. So many people are being so supportive but it's just something extra from someone else who understands the pressures of what we do.

      You're so right about the reasons. I'm one of those people who feels like I need a reason for everything, and I never would have thought about it that way.

      I'm actually pretty pro-medication. I'm one of those people that will take an aspirin at the first sign of a headache so it's something I would consider. I'm currently on medication for my dizziness but not the stress. It's not something the doctor suggested so I think it's more of a "remove yourself from the stressful situation" thing.

      Anyway, I was back at work today (mornings only until the end of term which is much later than you lucky Scots!), and I'm feeling a lot more positive. And of course, I GET TO MEET YOU SOON!

      xx

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  4. I'm so sorry to hear about your ordeal!

    I know how it feels to be stressed - obviously in a slightly different way to yours - but I used to get unbelievably painful headaches and pass out in the middle of Tesco's because I was so dizzy! Ended up cancelling all my exams, but felt sooo much better after.

    Hopefully your lovely walks and other ideas will help you :-)

    Steph x


    closet-13.blogspot.co.uk

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    1. Oh you poor thing! It sounds like we've had very similar experiences. I hope you're feeling better now and thank you for your kind comment.

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  5. Sorry to hear you're feeling stressed, I hope your time off helps you relax a bit. You have the school holidays to properly recharge in soon anyway!

    Megan x | MeganRoisinn

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    1. Less than 3 weeks to go! Not that I'm counting or anything...

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  6. Sorry to hear that you're unwell. Hope you're feeling better soon! -x-x-

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  7. My mum is a senior lecturer ar at a university and had nearly 8 weeks off with stress at the beginning of this year. It has ultimately done her the world of good and she's been a much happier person because of it. She, like you, felt guilty about having the time off but sometimes it's necessary, particularly in such a stressful job. Your 10 methods look perfect to me, but don't feel bad about going places while you're off work, the whole point is you do things that relax you rather than stress you (hey if I were you i'd try and fit in a massage or a facial somewhere too and totally chill, even just for half an hour! Hope you're feeling better soon xx

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    1. I'm so glad to hear your mum is feeling a lot better. Thank you for this- You're absolutely right about doing things to relax.

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  8. Amazing ways to deal with stress! I love Charmed. It was my childhood haha! Then I ended up at a party with one of the cast members and things all got a little strange.

    Emma x
    BEAUTY AND RAGS

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    1. No way! Which one? Tell me EVERYTHING!

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  9. Come and see me!! Which you did. Drawing stresses me as it's never good enough lol! Xox

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    1. Yes, that I did. Although your face stresses me out ;p

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  10. Exercise!
    Even if you cannot be bothered (which was me today...) even a casual half hour does wonders, so I agree with your go for a walk idea.
    I tried Pilates for the first time today and was so focused on my breathing and trying to do the moves properly that I couldn't stress out or think of anything else!

    Hope you feel better soon. It's not good to feel like this.

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    1. Oh I'm a terrible exerciser! Walking is the best way for me. I just can't summon up the energy, especially when I'm in a bad way.

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  11. Great advice Becky :) hope you're feeling better soon!
    Kaz at Sunshine Days x

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  12. I think you've got some great methods, I definitely agree with ukulele playing and drawing (or sewing or knitting, anything creative really). The only things I'd add are going somewhere different (preferably by the sea), exercise and, this may sound weird but, showers always make me feel less stressed. Hope you feel better soon!

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    1. Creativity is always so relaxing for me. I wish I could go to the sea- It's such a calming place. I agree about showers too!

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  13. Excellent suggestions. I really hope you feel better soon xxx

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  14. This is a really great post I'm glad you wrote it :) I'm not stressed so have energy but i hate holidays cos all my friends have gone home and I haven't got any friends in my home town. I have a long summer of work and sitting around on my own and I get lonely so easy :( i'll definitely refer back to this list though. I love drawing but when I feel low like this I just lose motivation for everything and would give anything to just be sitting with my best friends :( x

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    1. I can understand that. Loneliness can feel very similar to stress and it's important to have things to distract you. Feel free to get in touch if you need someone to chat to

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  15. I hope you are getting some good rest, with all those tips you should be!

    Stress is weird for me. I get really really stressed but I just seem to suck it all up (which is probably a stupid thing), but it's like I don't even notice the stress piling up and I think I handle it quite well. My life has always been high stress, but lately I'm not oblivious to it anymore, so I'm glad you shared these tips. I use a few of these already, but I think I need some more options. Alan Rickman sounds like a good start :)

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    1. I'm a sucker upper too, which is ultimately what lef to this, I think. You know I'm going to tell you that you should release the things that stress you out, which makes me a huge hypocrite, but I'm going to say it anyway! Alan Rickman is always a good start!

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  16. This is a great post, very very helpful. Mindfulness is actually really good, just sitting concentrating on breathing for a little while and taking deep breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth. Also, I find baking to be really helpful and therapeutic.

    Hope you feel better soon :)

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    1. That sounds really helpful. I'm a terrible baker- It never goes right for me!

      Thank you!

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  17. So sorry to hear this, I hope the two weeks off help you to think things through and that you manage to relax. Stress is such a horrible thing! I keep a worry journal when I feel as if stress is really getting on top of me... I write down everything I'm stressed about and what I can do to solve it, if anything. Writing it all down does seem to help! x

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    1. I write in a diary too and I've found it really helps to get things off my chest without worrying about venting to other people and what they'll think.

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  18. Oh that Duolingo thing seems nice! How does that work?

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    1. It's really easy- Have a look on their site and give it a go! :)

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