When the stress overwhelms you until your surrounded by fog, it's important to take a step back. Here are Doug's strategies for seeing through stress.
the most important thing I do, more than anything else, is to take a moment, very regularly, to think about how I'm going and what's affecting that.
I haven't always been good at dealing with stress and managing my life through stressful periods. When I was 19, I was swimming in a gloomy fog. I wasn't eating well, and wasn't getting more than 6 hours sleep most nights of the week. The glands in my neck were swollen from weeks spent fighting a cold, my skin was pale, my brow was sweaty. I knew it must have been possible to do 'life' better, to better organise myself, to manage my body and my commitments.
And of course, it is possible to do life better. I'm now 22 and my body and mind feel better than they ever have.
There are a number of specific things I do to make sure that I maintain my wellbeing and support my resilience emotionally and physically, but I think the most important thing I do, more than anything else, is to take a moment, very regularly, to think about how I'm going and what's affecting that.
When I 'take a moment' I concentrate on my body and my mind. I ask myself if I feel tired, what I'm thinking about, whether I'm hungry… These are just some of the ways I 'check in' with myself during the day.
Here are a few other things I make sure I do every day to support myself and keep my stress levels in-check:
- I drink water all the time.
- I eat natural foods and avoid too much sugar and fat.
- I eat enough, and I make sure that I plan my meals if I have a busy day.
- Ideally, I stretch my body twice a day. I find that it makes me feel like I'm ready to run at any moment.
- I exercise at least a few times per week (and I usually take the stairs instead of the lift or escalator - this adds up!)
Sleep is important for body and mind. Everyone's sleep needs are different, it's important to know yours and meet them. I've set a benchmark for myself of 8 hours a night.
I meditate at least every few days - for me meditation means time spent focusing on my body and allowing my mind free time to roam my thoughts and eventually clear.
I keep two journals. One journal recounts my day, every day - what I did, who I did it with and where I did it. My second journal is a thought journal that I write in whenever I feel I want to. In the second journal, I balance good thoughts with writing through difficult times.
- At the beginning of every week I plan my time, note deadlines, and prioritise my commitments.
- Most nights before bed I make a to-do list for the following day that's loosely organised by time.
- I stay close with close friends and make sure that my 'commitments' don't make me feel like I don't have time to see them because time with friends reduces stress!
- I aim to communicate well with the people I live with - my family or my housemates.
So these are the main things I do to keep myself healthy and well, and make sure that stress doesn't take over my life. Practices like these have taken years for me to learn about and work into my life, and nowadays I barely think about them - I just do them, because they've become part of my everyday.