BPW Foundation's Women Misbehavin' Blog

Well behaved women never make history

My Anti-Sress List

Posted by egehl on July 20, 2010

In life, when it rains it pours.  I am stressed.  This month I have been burning the candle at 10 ends, and it’s catching up to me.  I have been thinking about how women deal with stress and what we do to alleviate the intensity and anxiety of feeling overwhelmed. 

I think each of us have our own coping mechanisms, some healthier than others, but the bottom line is we have to be mindful about when stress levels become too much.  Women have a tendency of saying “yes” too much, biting off more than we can chew, and feeling guilty if we don’t put others before our own well-being.  Stress can come from family, friends, work, everyday grind of life and outside factors we have no control over like disasters and communities in distress. 

How do you handle your stress?  What coping mechanisms do you employ to get your mind off the things overwhelming you?

Here is what helps me:

Exercise:  It’s true what they say, exercise is the natural high of life.  When you get those endorphins going it lifts your mood, calms your nerves and makes you feel better.   

Swimming:  While any kind of exercise helps me focus and take a break from my stressors, there’s something about swimming.  Being under water and swimming laps helps me completely break away from the world around me.  During the summer, you can find me in a swimming pool. 

Shopping:  It’s a girl’s best friend.  It may not be great on my pocket book, but when I shop I get tunnel vision and forget what’s ailing me.  And let’s face it as women we all get an endorphin high when we purchase a great find.  The excitement may be fleeting for our new things, but it does take our mind off of life for a moment. 

Laughter:  This should be in tall order when you are feeling extremely busy.  Laughter is a fabulous remedy for bringing yourself back down to earth from your stressed little perch.  So grab that friend or coworker that’s guaranteed to put you in stitches and ask for some entertainment.   

Organize (and clean):  There’s something about organizing and cleaning my house and personal things that gives me a sense of control that may be lacking in my busy life. 

Trash TV:  There is no shortage of trash reality TV these days. Every station has their version of portraying someone else’s crazy life.  You think your life sucks?  Check out some of the folks on TV.  Not only will you get to zone out for a moment, but it will make you feel a lot better! 

Make lists:  While this idea may make some people cringe, lists are my life line when I am really stressed. 

Take a deep breath:  It sounds hokey, but it really works. 

Stop watching the news:  As a news junkie, this is hard but it does help to stop listening to and reading about the trials and tribulations of our world.  There’s a lot of crappy stuff going on, especially if you live along the Gulf Coast, so separate yourself for a bit.  While it’s important to stay informed sometimes it can add to our anxiety, so take a break. 

Disconnect yourself:  We are all about technology these days but being connected to everyone all the time can really add to our stress.  While it’s fun to Facebook, Tweet, email, and IM if we constantly feel as if we have to stay connected to everyone all the time it gets overwhelming.  Give yourself moments to disconnect from your cell phone and computer.  Better yet, shut them off.

Say “no”:  As women, this can be really hard.  We want to be there for everyone, feel guilty not attending to the needs of others when asked, and ideally want to be able to do it all.  However doing it all is what gets us to this place of feeling completely overwhelmed and miserable.  Set boundaries and the people who love you should understand.  If they don’t, then it’s time to reassess those relationships.  I think the older we get the clearer this becomes, but it’s a constant internal battle we always have to keep in check. 

Travel: For those of us who tend to be escapists, there’s nothing better than getting away.  If you can’t take a trip out of town, then travel to your nearest park or somewhere peaceful outside.  There’s something about the quiet outdoors that’s really good for the soul.  

Music:  Listen to songs that quiet you down, clear your thoughts, make you smile and inspire you to sing. 

Glass of wine:  I wouldn’t be honest with my list if I didn’t add this.  Like anything in life moderation is key, but a glass of wine occasionally at the end of the day is a beautiful thing.  

Writing this blog!:  Expressing your thoughts through writing is a wonderful way to vent, relieve stress and alleviate pent up feelings and opinions.  So write in a diary, contribute to a blog or put your thoughts on paper.  

Now that I’ve made my list, I feel better already.

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