10 Ways To Stop Stressing And Start Living | Emily Bashforth

10 Ways To Stop Stressing And Start Living

Stress is a common human emotion which can have and does have a detrimental impact on the lives of many. It's inevitable that we will all experience a stress filled period at some point in our lives, however, stress can also take over people's lives, causing them to stop doing the things they love and really taking a toll on their mental well-being.
Regardless of your stress levels, stress is not fun. Nobody enjoys worrying, playing out possible scenarios in their head or panicking over things they have either done or failed to do. But finding ways to relieve stress can be difficult, in fact, thinking properly full stop whilst stressed is difficult because your mind is so clouded and not functioning as it should, (read my blog post on 100 ways to deal with stress HERE). When someone tells you to "stop being so stressed out," you wish it was that simple, you wish you could flick a switch inside your brain and BAM the stress is non existent. Sadly, that is not the case but, thankfully, there are other ways to deal with stress when you find its having a serious impact on the way you live your life.
When stress begins playing such a huge part in your daily life and 'stressed' almost becomes a characteristic people associate with you, you can get into a dark head space, thinking there couldn't possibly be a way out. However, I can assure you that, like with every situation, there is a way out of stress. It doesn't happen overnight. Sure, we can do little things to take our mind off of feeling stressed, like taking a bubble bath, but when your stress levels are high, it can take more work until you feel back to normal again, which is totally okay. No one ever said recovery was easy and, if it was, life would be boring, right?

So, I've put together a list of ten ways in which you can stop stressing and start living again because I don't like the thought of you feeling stressed and not feeling able to do what you love anymore. These things take time but, the more you continue to work at them, the better and more satisfying the results will be. Work on these things and, soon enough, you'll be seeing really positive changes in your mental well-being and just general happiness.

1) Put yourself first
Putting ourselves first isn't something human beings tend to be very good at. Generally, we aren't capable of thinking selfishly and so priorities the needs and feelings of others before our own. Its great to care for people and I would always encourage that you show compassion towards them, however, sometimes, it really is necessary to just put yourself at the top of your list and consider your own feelings and mental health. It doesn't make you a bad person for wanting happiness for yourself and it doesn't make you selfish for choosing to look after yourself every once in a while - its actually rather vital if you want to remain sane. Other people will forgive you for looking after number one, trust me, as they are just as concerned for your well-being as you are. When your health is at stake, you have no other option than to do what is best for you in every situation.

2) Prioritise tasks
Many of us stress because we have a list as long as our arms of tasks that we need to do yet we don't know how to get started. When you're stressed, it can be hard to organise an agenda because everything's a bit of a blur and you'll probably start every task on your list, only complete half of each one and then stress about having not finished any, which isn't healthy. Instead, just take a few minutes to think logically about the things you need to do. Write a list and rank each task from most to least important. For example, if you have two pieces of homework to do, one of which is due next week and one is due tomorrow, do the one due in tomorrow first, even if it isn't the quickest or most enjoyable. It'd be great if you were a robot and so could do everything at once, but you can't, and you must learn that. You must also learn that other people are not robots either. They have emotions and shall forgive you if you ask for an extra day to write an essay or if you're ten minutes late for work because you had something important to do in the morning. Prioritising tasks is an absolute must when you're feeling stressed as it makes things seem a lot less unorganised, plus, its always a satisfying feeling when you can tick off the things you've done.

3) Make time to relax and mentally unwind
We all live such busy lives that it can be difficult to find the time to do the things we love. We're either working, studying or doing things we have to do but would rather not. But, you must always make time for yourself if you want to maintain a decent standard of mental well-being. Life is no fun when you spend it stressing instead of enjoying it. Take time each day for yourself to even just do one thing that makes your heart happy. Whether that's doing a crossword, reading a book, scrolling through Instagram, sending a Tweet, going to the gym, eating a pizza, cuddling your dog, binge watching a TV series...whatever it is, make time for it because, at the end of the day, stress is temporary but your hobbies and passions can last a lifetime so you may as well relish in them and appreciate every opportunity you get to do what puts your mind at ease. Its okay to take time off from life and it is more than acceptable to say "No, I'm not going to do that assignment, I'm going to stalk my old high school classmates on Facebook" every so often.

4) Empathise with others 
Take time to consider other people's feelings and relate to them. The chances are, other people are feeling stressed in some way too. It may not be in the same capacity as yours, but its a way of connecting and realising you are not alone. Talk to people about their stress and share your own story so that they can empathise with you. Also, empathise with other emotions, like sadness and grief. Really make an effort to consume yourself with love and compassion for other people and allow them to come into your life. Have your arms wide open for anyone who wishes to communicate because, when we give and receive empathy, we produce the near magical neurotransmitter Oxycontin, which creates a sense of trust and cooperation - keys to negotiating and resolving conflict. Leading with empathy can help those around us to be sources of support in our lives and reduce the likelihood of interpersonal conflicts. Practice empathetic listening with one another. I understand that it may be difficult to feel empathetic when stressed but do not deprive yourself of the comfort that closeness with other people brings.

5) Live life to the full
You only get one life, right? So why waste it being so bothered about the little things that won't even exist in ten years time? Instead, grab every single opportunity that comes your way with both hands and never let it go. Do everything you've always been too terrified to do and learn to love your life in the way that you so very deserve to. Don't get caught up in petty arguments and try not to worry about what's around the corner. Don't think about what yesterday could have been but, instead, think about what tomorrow could be. Because, the truth is, the future is yours to mould into whatever shape you please. It can be whatever you want it to be. So, if you want to travel, then travel, if you want to learn a new language, then learn a new language, if you want to skydive, then skydive. Live your life 100% unapoligetically and set yourself free from the chains that are holding you down. Unleash your inner identity which you have been supressing for so long, talk to new people, explore the world around you, appreciate art in all its forms and just, literally, live every day as if its the last. "You only live once" is corny, I know, but you really do, so don't allow stress to prevent you from enjoying every second you have on this Earth.

6) Stop ignoring your needs
It can be easy to put off seeking help and just get on with things because its what we've been doing for so long but you cannot go through life like that. If stress is getting you down or if something, anything is affecting your well-being, seek help from whoever you find comfort in. Do not bottle things up. If you're aware of the fact that you feel down all the time, do not ignore that. Listen to your mind and listen to your body. Let it tell you what it needs. If it needs time off, give it time off. Make sure you're sleeping, eating, drinking enough and just generally taking care of yourself. Treat yourself as if you are someone else because you wouldn't ignore the needs of a loved one now, would you? Its more than okay to ask for help and its totally fine for you to recognise that you're in need of support.

7) Stop getting distracted
We're all guilty of getting distracted in all kinds of situations. Getting distracted can simply mean scrolling through social media whilst procrastinating doing homework but it can also mean getting distracted by bad thoughts when you ought to be concentrating on the good things in life. Whatever it is that's distracting you, tell it off. Say, "No, I will not let you distract me, not this time." A distraction can be good every now and again, however, when those distractions are slowly eating away at your happiness, they aren't the kind you want. Shove any negative thoughts to the back of your mind, so far back that they cease to exist. Reject any negative energy that approaches you. Focus on the positives things, opportunities and people around you. Also, in terms of things that distract you from homework etc, ignore them! Besides, if you get the work done, then you won't have to stress over the fact that you haven't done it and you can tick it off your list, right? ;) Put that phone down! The internet will still be there in one hour's time.

8) Stop allowing other people to make you feel as though you are inferior
Nobody is above you, there is no hierarchy here. Everyone is just plodding along, getting through life together whilst hoping to find some happiness along the way. Everyone is your brother and sister, not your dictator or your superior, regardless of their status or how highly they like to think of themselves. Even if its an A-List celebrity, do not allow them to make you feel subservient just because you haven't accomplished the things they have. Don't worry about the perception others have of you, instead, just focus on yourself whilst radiating good vibes. Ignore their callous and unkind behaviour because you know the truth. Simultaneously, do not allow yourself to make you feel worthless. The most unkind person to us is often ourselves, so switch off that nasty voice inside your head because they only have power if you allow them to.

9) Stop being judgemental 
When you judge other people, not only is it a reflection of your own personality, but its, honestly, so draining. Why would you want to exhaust yourself like that? There are far more positive ways to tire yourself out like running or dancing around your kitchen to cheesy pop songs. Not only is judging people a waste of time, but it fills your mind with so much negativity that it only makes your life more miserable. Just try accepting people for who they are, don't wish for them to apologise for what they do or what interests them, just appreciate their little quirks instead of hating on them for it. Likewise, stop judging yourself. Don't be so hard on yourself. Its okay to get things wrong and mess up. Its okay to say things you don't mean sometimes. Its okay that you aren't a carbon copy of everyone around you. Give yourself a break.

10) Stop avoiding things you want to do
If you want to do something because you know it'll bring you happiness, I see no reason as to why you should deprive yourself of that opportunity. In life, we have to do what makes us happy because, if not, it just makes everyone pretty damn sad. So, stop stressing about "Oh but what if my parents don't agree with it" and "What will other people think of me?" and "What if something goes wrong?" Just take the plunge and GO FOR IT. Whatever you want to do, do it and do it whole-heartedly. Life is short and it'll be short and melancholic if you spend it not doing things you wish you could do. If other people are out there having fun, what makes you any different? Why don't you deserve to feel as happy and live as stress-free as they do?

I really hope some of these tips were useful to you. What are your top tips for stress-free living? <3

Love. Emily :) xx

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