No, this is not anything to do with science or research. Hell, there are some that may not be the greatest ideas, but they work for me-ish. No, there’s no yoga or meditation, unless sitting cross-legged watching Gilmore Girls or Virgin River and losing myself in Stars Hollow or Virgin River. The meditation comes in the form of wishing my favourite book characters were real (hello Roger Mackenzie, Brianna Randall, Sansa Stark, Jon Snow and Calliope Barnstable).

It seems all my 20s and now 1 month into my 30s have been one big, massive stress ball. When I think I’ve got a glimmer of a break, WHAM, nuh-uh. I’m not special in that sadly, as that is what most of my generation has faced.

I’m not whining, I genuinely strongly dislike that I and my fellow millennials are this way. We were raised to do what we love, follow the timetables of our parents and things would be golden. Pure BS, that’s been well-established.

I could easily write a whoa-begotten bitch session that I had planned where I aired out all my past screw-ups or struggle with my identity and rhyme on about how I always prevail, even though I was just utterly shattered into pieces and was full-on sobbing like a three-year-old to a friend or in my car. But no. Not going to do that, as cathartic as that may be. Well, I’ll write that one for a future therapist.

Instead, I’m going to share how I know I am getting stressed to the max and what I do lessen that stress, or even to just toss it into a corner to deal with later.

I stop being able to focus and I find that I pick a point in my visual plane and stare.

  • I’m normally honestly telling myself to pull it together and get back to work.
  • These normally prompt me to take a break. Either a walk to the bathroom, a walk around the block, or even just changing what task I was doing. Like writing a blog about how I manage stress.
  • Sometimes that’s also a sign that I am absolutely done doing anything productive that day and to do more would mean mistakes or heightened stress.

I feel the need to rage or cry- hard.

  • I can hold my temper around others. Maybe not so successfully as I tend to talk in clipped tones when I am mad or stressed, but I don’t recall in recent memory outright lashing out with a tonne of anger at someone or something. Ok, not aloud, as I’ve definitely done so in my head.
  • Nor have I ever smashed or thrown something in anger either. Instead, I just rage out in my car or take it out on a weight-set at the gym. I also tend to cry when I’m mad or stressed.
  • Then I sleep well because I was able to release everything, or at least feel like I’ve got control back because I did a killer workout.

I tend to eat my feelings, all of them.

  • This one is something that has gotten waayyyy better, as before I was incredibly destructive about this. I’ve talked previously about my issues with food. It’s gotten better with the help of counselling and friends.
  • I’m learning to manage stress without turning to food, but also recognizing that if it’s something that helps calm me down, it’s OK to have that muffin, fries, piece of fruit, whatever sometimes. I understand why/how it happened and learn from it. Plus, I can now stop myself from polishing off everything in the fridge.
  • I’ve been turning more towards drinking water too as a way to take a minute to catch my breath. Much healthier, and you can’t do many stressful things when you’re peeing every 20 minutes.

My hair starts to fall out more.

  • I’ve always lost hair from stress, but lately it’s falling out more when I am stressed to the point of not feeling stressed.
  • Sometimes I just sigh and clean up the mess in the bathroom and resolve to relax more that day. Or I take as a sign that I need to invest in a hat company soon.
  • Yes Mom, I am making an appointment to get this looked at. And yes Mom, I am taking my vitamins and eating alright.

I feel trapped and can feel myself having a challenging time catching my breathe.

  • This is full-on flight or fight mode, and in this instance, I often feel the need to flee to regroup and come back to fight.
  • When this strikes, I know that I need to lean into it because my mind is clearly telling me that it’s in overdrive and needs a minute.
  • Whether it’s going for a drive, a hike or a walk, I go. With the music cranked up as loud as I can stand it. It helps me stay sane in a world constantly trying to drive me insane.

Do I handle stress and de-stressing perfectly? Hell no. Could I be doing better at managing stress? Yes, but this story is all about how I know I am stressed in the first place, not the causes of that stress. Am I doing better than I have previously? Hell yes because I take the time to understand the signs, how I manage, and how I can continually manage to handle a stressful situation better the next time. Yes, I do talk to a counsellor and pull out my resource kit too. Seriously, everyone needs to have one.

After all, I’m not a robot yet, as much as some people have called me robotic in the past. I’m actually a very feeling person, and I either feel everything, feel a little bit, or I feel nothing. I’m getting better at staying in that middle. Whose with me on this?

Remember, I’m here if you need an ear.

– Rachael