Illness and Wellness
Imagine going to your doctor for a check-up. You sit down, a nurse takes your vitals, and the doctor starts talking about cancer. After reviewing the signs of early-stage cancers, she moves on to talk about how diabetes affects the entire body. Lastly, she reviews the mechanics of heart disease and then sends you on your way. While you understand this is all important information, you don't know why she brought any of that up -- you don't have any of those diseases.
Hopefully your real-life healthcare provider is better than that. If you're healthy, then he or she should talk about how to keep you healthy instead of listing scary facts about conditions you don't have. The conversation should include a focus on wellness.
Sometimes, discussions of mental health can feel like that made-up scenario. We talk about suicide prevention or finding therapy and medication. As in the scenario, we understand the significance of these conversations. These can be life-changing; in some cases, they are even life-saving. However, a good conversation about mental health should involve discussion of wellness, too. We must talk about prevention as well as crisis intervention.
With that in mind, the Affect team has compiled a list of 20 things you can do when you are feeling stressed. Next time you're feeling overwhelmed, use these tried and true methods of staying in control.
Lift some weight.
Paint or draw. "I think of it as channeling my negative energy into a positive, creative output." ~ O.K.
Call somebody. It's hard to deny the pleasure we get from hearing a familiar voice we've been missing.
Pet a dog.
Watch something funny. If current events are stressing you out, then SpongeBob might be a better choice than a late-night talk show.
Write out your feelings. "Writing helps me get everything that is stressing me out in my head down on paper so that those stressful things are not clouding my mind. It also helps me articulate exactly what is stressing me out." ~ V.A.
Play a game on your phone. There are so many options here. While games should be played in moderation, it can be nice to escape into the world of Candy Crush during stressful times.
BREATHE. "My [clarinet] teacher always stressed that if deep breathing is done well, it should feel as if your lower back is filling up with air. I noticed that after these exercises I always felt calmer, so I started using deep breathing techniques whenever I felt stressed. Especially when its physical effects -- like knots in my stomach and a racing heartbeat -- start getting too intense, these breathing exercises are a really quick and effective way of calming myself down." ~ S.T.
Read a book.
Go for a run. You don't need to be Usain Bolt to reap the benefits of running. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, just five minutes of aerobic exercise can help reduce anxiety.
Step outside. Along with helping you get out of your work getting up to leave forces you to stand up. That might not seem like a big deal, but a new body of research shows that long periods of sitting can increase your risk of early death... so get up and go outside!
Dive into some other work. This might seem contradictory, but sometimes we just need to work on a different project. If your research is stressing you out, it might be a good idea to take care of your required reading for another class in the meantime.
Write down your thoughts. "Writing helps me get everything that is stressing me out in my head down on paper so that those stressful things are not clouding my mind. It also helps me articulate exactly what is stressing me out." ~ V.A.
Go hiking. Don't forget to go with a friend! Not only does it help you stay safe, but it will also give you an opportunity to catch up on life.
Listen to music. Click on the album covers below for some of our team's favorites, from Ariana Grande's feel-good jams to Yiruma's famous piano melody.
Bake something. "Stress-baking is nice, so long as you don't eat the whole batch of cupcakes yourself. I like to share what I've made with my friends because it gets me to talk to people and de-stress even more." ~ C.N.
Eat something. It's not the best coping mechanism to use 100% of the time, but it's fine to do so every now and then.
Clean your room. Mindless enough to let you zone out while also being productive.
Sit down and talk with a friend. Let's face it, when project deadlines are coming up fast and work is hectic, it's hard to find time just to share what's going on with your loved ones. Think about it, though. That's usually the time when people need to talk to each other the most. Once you open up, you might find that your friend has something to say too.
What do you do when you're stressed? Let us know in the comments below!
Banner image courtesy of Flickr