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What do you do when you're feeling a little stressed?
SSar's Beast
morbane
Things are good lately. I am getting excellent marks at Uni, I haven't handed anything in late yet, work is steady and I feel useful there, and I live from paycheck to paycheck but there's a little bit of a margin which is reassuring. I even called my parents on Friday for an amiable chat.

I just had a nice weekend in which I studied, baked, went out for the Merchant of Venice with Joel and Meredith and had a lovely dinner, watched Battlestar Galactica, studied, and handed an assignment in.

For some reason, I'm really really stressed lately. I'm appreciating the good stuff that's going on, but I am noticing really high anxiety levels. So, people, what do you do to level off? I'm honestly not over-working myself at my paying job, but while my study demands are high, I can't really reduce them right now (it's near the end of the semester and I still have two presentations and a research essay to do.) Should I take more long hot showers? Throw myself into Project Bauble? Get really drunk and rant to someone? (Joking). I have managed to avoid caffeine and sugary drinks today at least - a week without caffeine shall do me good.

Anyway, right now I can't be bothered studying for my 5% test tomorrow so I'll translate one of the Canterbury Tales or let Joel beat me up at StarCraft.

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My process that seems to be at least somewhat effective is as follows:

1: determine cause of stress.
This is usualy done on a long walk of some kind, which is convenient as I have long walks to and from work :)

Even if I can't pin things down to specifics, its helpful to know if what I'm feeling has an ongoing source, or if its just a case of "wound up, need time to unwind"

2: if the result was casued by an ongoing element of my enviroment, then I will try and find out what to do about it. Just having a plan helps me feel better, even if I don't put it into practice.

if the result was something I have experienced recently, then I usualy go home, lie on my back and stare at the cieling for some time, letting my mind wander to whatever it will and just enjoy doing nothing. This helps me unwind and clear my mind.
Its almost like meditiation I think..

3: if steps one and two didn't help, either because of the continuing presence of stressors that I'm unable to do anything about, or because I was unable to determine the source of my stress I usualy go for a run.

Physical exercise helps relax you, and burn off some of your tension. Endorphins are your friend!
I also like playing violin, because the intense focus it requires leaves little room for worry, or much else at least for a time.

If all else fails, I take comfort in the fact that everything will be at least a little better in the morning, after I have had a chance to sleep on it.

Thanks.

Hmm. I have very short walks to and from work! I think a long walk would be good. I have definitely used long walks to calm down before. It's not that I don't know what's stressing me out - it's that rationalising it away isn't working. I think I need to do a bit of self-examination. Walk>run would be good.

I'm terrible at lying on my back staring at the ceiling and expecting it to go to somewhere good. Although I occasionally have stretches of free time, there's usually umpteen things I expect I should be doing, from assignments to housework. I get all fidgety.

Rationalising things away is just another way of avoiding the issue, I don't think it really helps.

As for having trouble sitting still, perhaps this line of thought might help.. "I am stressed, I need to be destressed. To become less stressed I choose to do nothing in this time. Destressing myself is the most useful thing I can do with this time" or something similar?

I see - pointing out to myself that it's a highly purposeful activity. Hm. Another production of rationality that sometimes fails.

I do like going for long power-walks, talking to myself out loud all the way.

These things do take practice :)

I have never really tried power walking, I don't think.
Do you find it much different from regular walking?

Well, I mention it mostly because it comes about when I'm upset, and then I just stride off, upset-ness pushing me along. It works. Eventually I slow down and feel a lot better. The power-walking is just a result of the strength of whatever emotions have caused me to go walking; walking at a normal speed would be just as useful in a less tense circumstance.

I'll second starzend re: a long walk to determine cause of stress (plus, a long pleasant stroll with nothing in mind but walking is a good de-stressor in and of itself), but I'd also say yes to throwing yourself into Project Bauble: a creative activity is always satisfying, and working with your hands instead of your brain for a while is a good, stress-relieving change of pace. Personally, I like baking and drawing - small, physical projects that, if successful, yield delicious and/or pretty results. Mmm, almond cookies...

Also, fifteen minutes lying on your back doing nothing, absolutely nothing, but listening to some good music - I mean really paying attention to it. I find it simultaneously relaxing and stimulating, especially if I'm so stressed out that my brain has just turned into a big katamari and I need everything to settle back into place.

Also also, make sure you're getting a good night's sleep. [/mother]

Thanks.

I agree, walks are probably the simplest and sensiblest thing.

I don't really have any projects apart from large ones that are daunting to start! How do you build up small projects? I think I agree with you about working with different things being relaxing and nice.

I love cooking and baking, but I don't see them as small projects - you're committed to them once you begin them, and they require cleaning up, and you have to have the right ingredients... A small project ought to be one that you can pick up and leave off in half an hour.

I do try to sleep OK nowadays. Okay, so I was up until 3am last night on an assignment, but I'll get at least 8 hours sleep tonight and for the rest of the week. *is good*

Chamomile tea, long hot baths/showers, taking time out from uni-reading to do fun-reading (not that uni-reading isn't enjoyable, it's just getting away from reading stuff that you know you're going to have to analyse and write essays about later).

Thanks.

I hate chamomile, but will substitute lemon-lemongrass tea, if it please you.

Fun-reading is problematic. I feel as though I should be reading a) political blogs; b) nonfiction; c) anything but trash. Guilty pleasures become less about pleasure, more about guilt.

Still, contemptible fiction is what I most often use as my means of procrastination. :)

(Dammit, did I actually throw that donation of Mills & Boone (sp?) in the trash!?)

I always have spare M&B if required! And there's always the politics blogs that are highly amusing at the same time - have you encountered Editing The Herald? As a former Aucklander I highly recommend it.

Also, Healtheries do a Sweet Dreams tea with lemon verbena. Highly tasty and equivalent destressing to chamomile.

Ooh, might try the Sweet Dreams tea. I can't remember which brand is on the tea I have at work, but I think it's Healtheries.

In what circumstance is a spare M&B required? I'm horribly curious now.

I think I would like Editing The Herald - and no I have not encountered it. I do remember the painful face my writing teacher would make, back in high school, when discussing this publication's standard of eloquence - back when I was too young to really understand. I was especially annoyed at a couple of lines in the Dom Post today. The article about the mental patient whose suicide-risk status had not been conveyed to the proper authorities was written with bear paws.

I can send you atrocious fan fiction, original stories and snippets of poetry if you like! I used to run a renga (like a long serial haiku) back and forth with a friend, that's a nice but brief form of procrastination.

Fanfiction! Neat - but what is this intended to address? I can see a serial bounce-back poem being fun, but then I would break the obligation and feel guilty.

Here's what I'd do, but bear in mind that I am a nexus of nervous energy and conentrated Grump:
I would drink vilely strong tea - liquorice, or peppermint, or just thick and dark, as a substitute for alcohol. Alcohol breaks down inhibitions but it will also leave you a wee bit wonky for the rest of the week, not good if you have work to do. So trick your body into thinking "Whoaa, toxins!" some other way.

I would not simply walk, but storm around the place. Preferably ranting, but muttering darkly is good too. I like to go to the hill atop the Gardens and feel the wind try to buffet me. Brave those elements (and then retreat to a nice hot shower). Feel alive against the odds, blah blah.

Bitch at understanding people who realise that you're not bitching at them, that you just need to vent. Yes I am one of those people, but to be frank, Rueben is a far more willing target and his reactions are just priceless!

Eat whatever your body has urgently decided that you need. Even if this is a vegemite and peanut butter sandwich with sausages and whipped cream!
...Okay, maybe not that gross, but if you want a particular vegie or food group, eating it will probably help the stress.

Et voila! There endeth the lesson. Probably none of it is useful, but I feel garrulous and will not pass up the opportunity to belabour you with advice.

Vegemite + peanut butter + cream + sausage is truly the most amazing idea of a combination. No, I wouldn't eat it, but I marvel at the image. Nice.

I have a reasonably high tolerance of alcohol nowadays - infer as you will. But it's a more valid toxin than anything with tannin or caffeine this week, as I've sworn off black tea for seven days. I suspect liquorice tea of a similar concentration I would find too vile to swallow.

I don't mind muttering darkly or ranting sometimes, but what has brought on this quest for advice is a very bad form of this - I find myself saying, out loud, almost unintentionally, "I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm trying," etc, and I don't really want to encourage that.

I don't really have anyone to bitch to. Sometimes I am deliberately silly at people - notably Alex and Joel. It also works.

Thank you for the comfort food green light. :)

Belabouring welcomed.

I bake. Any time you see a flurry of baking posts from me it's probably courtesy of stress. Really any creative distraction will do, but for some reason just getting a little project going that has immediate and tangible results helps me blow off steam.

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