Last Updated on May 17, 2022 by Thalia
I hate feeling stressed!
And that’s why I try to lead a stress-free life as much as possible which is somethIng I encourage through simplicity, self-care and slow living.
As April marks Stress Awareness Month, I thought I would dedicate today’s blog post to the healthy ways in which you can cope with overwhelm.
So if you feel stressed out more often than not, I encourage you to read through these mindful tips and start to move towards a healthier, happier you.
And feel free to bookmark this page so you can refer back to it when you need it most.
Table of Contents
- What does it mean to feel stressed?
- I didn’t choose the busy life, the busy life chose me
- How I learnt to be stress-free
- Social media and the need for speed
9 healthy ways to cope with stress and overwhelm
- 1 | Start and end the day feeling relaxed
- 2 | Don’t overload your to-do list
- 3 | Listen to calming music
- 4 | Practice slow living and mindfulness
- 5 | Get out in nature
- 6 | Set boundaries and protect your energy
- 7 | Get plenty of sleep
- 8 | Talk to a friend or seek help
- 9 | Read Eliminate Negative Thinking
- Final thoughts
What does it mean to feel stressed?
Before I dive into the healthy ways you can cope with stress and overwhelm, let’s first have a look at what it actually means to feel stressed so we can better understand how to manage it.
Stress is that “feeling of emotional or physical tension” that can be triggered by absolutely anything – work, family, socialising, a to-do list, lockdown, feeling ill, social media, etc, the list goes on.
Stress is the body’s way of handling challenges or demands.
For example when you have a deadline due or you are doing a crazy workout at the gym. Our bodies feel this high sense of pressure and adrenaline and so we work harder & quicker to meet the desired results.
But long periods of stress, also known as chronic stress, can lead to serious mental health issues.
So before we move on, I just wanted to take a moment to say that I am in no way medically trained on this topic.
I write this blog post with my own experience of stress in mind and the healthy ways I chose to cope with it in the hopes it will inspire you in some way.
If you ever feel constantly stressed out and think it might be a serious problem then I recommend seeking professional help.
I didn’t choose the busy life, the busy life chose me
We are all unfortunately conditioned to live busy lives.
There’s always that message; if you aren’t busy reaching your goals, meeting new people or trying something new then quite frankly what are you doing with your life?
We jam-pack our schedules with meetings and social get-togethers and make to-do lists the size of Mount Fuji.
We never allow ourselves time to rest.
And if we do manage to somehow rest, then along come feelings of guilt and laziness.
We also seem to distract ourselves from our problems by constantly rushing around and moving on to the next task or goal.
I was trapped in this cycle too.
Pre-entrepreneur and wannabe nomad life, I lived and worked in London.
I had a high pressured job working in a Modelling Agency located in Old Street (if you know, you know) and lived in the buzzing area of Clapham Junction.
Because the city I lived in and my job were so fast-paced, I quickly began living life in the fast lane.
Everywhere I went, I would rush around trying to beat Google maps.
I would run up and down the escalators to catch the tube instead of waiting 2 extra minutes to get the next one.
On the streets, I would dodge around people and get really frustrated when someone in the queue in front of me would take ages to pay for something.
I had absolutely zero patience.
And as for my mornings? Well, I had no patience for them either.
A big shock I know, as I’m now a huge fan of slow mornings.
But back in my early to mid-20s this wasn’t the case.
I would go out almost every night for fear of missing out and because I needed sleep so much I got into the routine of sacrificing my mornings in order to catch up.
So while working at my 9 to 5 job, I would wake up at the last second, and rush around in the morning getting ready to try to leave the house on time.
My mode of transport was the tube, which is notorious for being delayed. And every time it was delayed I would be late for work which stressed me out even more.
(If you know me then you know I hate being late for anything!)
I also never had time for breakfast so I would always sit down at my desk feeling incredibly moody and hangry.
This was not a good way to start my day.
In fact, the whole way I lived my life was not a good way to treat my health and well-being.
How I learnt to be stress-free
I moved around so fast that I didn’t have a chance to stop and notice anything.
And it didn’t take a genius to figure out that I was STRESSED OUT.
I became so stressed that I would regularly experience extreme moments of anxiety and panic.
This culminated in me feeling overwhelmed by large crowds of people, feeling anxious every time I met new people and ultimately hating London.
It was only when I went travelling through South East Asia and South America did I learn the art of slowing down.
I lived and worked in Peru for 6 months and the way of living is completely different over there.
Peruvians are naturally slower and things aren’t as efficient, but I learnt to be patient.
The whole time I was travelling, I don’t think I rushed around once.
I took my time and spent many days by myself just sitting in a cafe reading.
My life finally felt peaceful.
When my trip came to an end, I was slightly nervous about returning to the UK.
I wanted to continue my slow way of living and not get sucked back into the fast-paced, zero patience way of life.
The good news is, that I’ve managed to hold onto that!
In my physical life for sure, but maybe not totally in my online life.
Social media and the need for speed
The Internet has opened up a whole new world of accessibility at our fingertips.
But with it, has come a deterioration in our attention spans.
We now expect everything to be super high speed and get an answer to something in about 0.001 seconds – thank you Google!
And even on social media we only have around 3 seconds to grab someone’s attention.
So although I try my best to live a slow-paced life, social media sometimes gets the better of me.
Being in the online space with female entrepreneurs is like being back in the fast lane.
I feel as though everyone is trying to outdo each other with their 10K months in the first 6 months of business, pivoting to become a coach within the first 4 months and making passive income within the first 2 months.
There is such an emphasis on fast growth and quite frankly it’s unhealthy.
Because at the end of the day, growth is growth no matter how slow.
I celebrate slow growth.
And having had a taste of slow life, I now know that I would rather feel less overwhelmed, less burnt out and less stressed by accomplishing things slowly.
I also want to be able to enjoy the process rather than feel like my whole world will come crashing down if I don’t hit a 5k launch.
So every day I’m trying to replicate my slow life in my social media strategy.
It’s the main cause of my overwhelm so detoxing from the online noise is now an absolute must for me.
So if social media also stresses you out from morning to night, then take this as your sign to take a break!
Reduce stress with this social media detox planner
9 healthy ways to cope with stress and overwhelm
I am fully on board with living a stress-free life and encourage this through simplicity, self-care and slow living.
When it comes to being productive, I believe that you need to be mindful of your own capabilities and do what works for you.
Here are my top tips to help eliminate overwhelm and cope with stress in a healthy way.
1 | Start and end the day feeling relaxed
Yes, I’m here again to bang on about how beneficial a morning & evening routine are.
But not just for your daily concentration and productivity but for your mental health too.
Your morning mood really does influence the rest of your day.
If you spend the morning rushing around feeling stressed (like old me) then the chances are you will spend the rest of the day feeling stressed too.
Tackle stress straight away by allowing yourself time in the morning to feel calm and nourished.
Spend time doing rituals that make you feel at ease and safe.
Same goes for the evening.
Try to eliminate as much stress as possible by spending the last 2 hours of your day relaxing and unwinding. Go screen-free, light some candles, have a glass of wine and just do nothing.
2 | Don’t overload your to-do list
This is something that I see people struggle with time and time again.
Overloading their to-do list with more things than they can fit in a day and then beating themselves up for not being able to finish it.
Being productive is not about what you can achieve in the day.
It’s about optimising your time and working towards your goals.
So let’s lay the mega to-do lists to bed and start prioritising and delegating.
I highly recommend the Eisenhower Matrix or the 135 Rule which for me, have been one of the quickest ways to decrease stress and overwhelm.
And it’s true what they say, “less is more”.
By doing less, you are setting yourself up to do more in the long run as you have done it sustainably and without hitting burnout.
3 | Listen to calming music
You know I’m a huge advocate of instrumental music so I had to include this tip to help you cope with stress in a healthy way.
It doesn’t even have to be instrumental, just anything that helps calm you down.
My go-to playlist is Calming Acoustic by Spotify.
The soft acoustic strings and mellow vibes really help to calm my anxious thoughts and help me feel at ease.
So if you need instant help to calm down, then put on some relaxing music and zone out.
4 | Practice slow living and mindfulness
One of the best ways to deal with overwhelm is to relax the mind and find calm in moments of distress.
Dedicate some time to mindfulness and slow living.
This could be meditating, doing breathing exercises, doing a bit of yoga or treating yourself to a self-care day and allowing yourself time to take care of you.
You can even try the below grounding technique to help ease the thoughts inside your head. All you need to do is name each of the things you can see, touch, smell and taste.
I recommend doing it out loud for extra benefit.
54321 Grounding method
- 5 things you can see
- 4 things you can touch
- 3 things you can hear
- 2 things you can smell
- 1 thing you can taste
5 | Get out in nature
I talk a lot about how fresh air is therapy.
And it truly is.
There are so many health benefits of spending time in fresh air to cope with stress.
In this case, it helps clear the cobwebs from the mind and decrease overwhelm.
So get outside and spend time in nature.
I promise you will feel all the better about it.
And there are loads of outdoor activities to get stuck into.
It doesn’t always need to be going on a long walk.
Save these ideas on Pinterest for later
6 | Set boundaries and protect your energy
One of the most important things I’ve learnt in the past couple of years is that boundaries are crucial and so friggin’ necessary to reduce stress and overwhelm.
I am now one of those people who feel zero guilt for putting up boundaries.
Because when I didn’t and let people take advantage, my mental health and well-being suffered.
So take it from me, you need to set boundaries in every area of your life.
And learn to say no.
Giving yourself space from a task, client, friend, collegue, etc, can help you gain clarity on the situation so you can see it from a different perspective.
You are then able to regain control and move forward according to your terms.
7 | Get plenty of sleep
Am I starting to sound like a broken record?
I hope not 🤪
Yes, you need the time to rest in order to repair your mind and body but sleep can also help to reduce stress.
A regular sleep routine helps to regulate your mood as well as calm the body.
Spend the evening calming the mind so when you get into bed you’re minutes away from dosing off.
“Not only will sleep reduce stress and boost your mood but sleep also improves focus and productive energy.”Notes by tHalia
8 | Talk to a friend or seek help
Sometimes coping with stress can look like talking to a close friend or loved one.
As humans, we are so used to bottling things up as we never want to seem weak or as though we can’t control our emotions.
This ultimately leads to more stress and a bigger burden on our shoulders.
I, therefore, recommend talking out your problems with someone you can trust to get everything off your chest.
You might even find that they have some useful advice for you.
9 | Read Eliminate Negative Thinking
Dig deeper into the healthy ways you can cope with stress by reading the self-help book, Eliminate Negative Thinking by Derick Howell.
This book guides you to better understand your emotions, clear your mind from anxious thoughts and practise self-acceptance and self-love.
In all honesty, it’s a 10/10 read full of mic-dropping takeaways.
It opened up my eyes to how damaging the word ‘should’ actually is.
You see, when we use the word ‘should’ we are automatically putting unwanted pressure on ourselves to complete or do something.
And when that thing doesn’t happen, you of course blame yourself.
This can then ultimately lead you to feeling a sense of guilt and a whole lot of stress.
So show yourself some love and instantly decrease overwhelm by replacing the word ‘should’ from your vocabulary. Ask yourself if there is another mindful word or phrase you can use instead.
My favourite alternatives are ‘allow’ or ‘want’.
It’s also important to note, that when using the word ‘should’ reassess if this is something you actually want to be doing. Or is it because you feel as though it’s expected of you?
Because starting to live life on your terms will also help eliminate any unwanted stress that has bottled up over the years.
Should statement = “I should post on Instagram today.”
Alternative statement = “I will try to post on Instagram today.”
“(Should statements) exert undue pressure on you to act in a certain way in order to achieve certain expectations, which may not be realistic.”Derick Howell | Eliminate Negative Thinking
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In some ways, I’m grateful for the pandemic.
You’re probably thinking “what! Thalia are you crazy?!” but honestly it has allowed me to slow down and just be present.
Something I hope will continue for years to come.
And with restrictions finally easing, it’s important to continue to be mindful of your well-being.
Don’t just ignore it now that things are beginning to go back to normal.
Keep taking things slow.
Go easy on yourself and just be mindful of how much time you have in the day.
Learn what triggers your overwhelm so you can be better prepared and know how to cope with stress in a healthy way.
And always make sure you do at least one thing every day that makes you happy.
It makes all the difference!
Until next week,
♡ Thalia xx