If my time in the art community has taught me one thing, a lot of us are stressed out, and a lot of us are afraid. I am right there with you!
Anxiety sucks, and it was preventing me from being healthy and productive, I even started to exhibit physical symptoms. About four years ago, in my late twenties, I started to actively look into ways to deal with it, or fight it in my case. I like a good fight; I’m my own best opponent. Very recently, I’m feeling that I have a good handle on it.
Here’s what helped me the most.
There are lots of online resources out there if you’re curious about techniques, but I prefer to practice living mindfully. For example, if I wake up with anxiety, I don’t allow myself to think about anything but my morning routine. “I’m in the shower now. I smell X, I have Y soap, and the water is warm. I’m getting dressed now. I’m in the car now…etc.” It helps banish all the “what ifs”. Most times, your mind will fight you on this and keep going back into the worried state. This is okay; keep trying.
Mindfulness is one of the reasons I love working with the Two List Method, which almost always forces me to be present. There’s no time for the mind to wander since it’s on a timer.
2) Fast Writing and Short Journals
I love fast writing. I was raised to be a “good girl” – be polite, don’t hurt others, don’t be selfish, and smile gracefully at the insults. Eventually, it started to wear on me.
But none of the laws of society exist in fast writing.
Get a pad of paper and start writing about anything that’s bothering you. Don’t censor yourself at all. Curse as much as you want, completely forget about grammar, disregard complete thoughts, and get it all out. The key is to never look back, never cross anything out, never read it again, and never stop writing.
If your hand hurts from the speed you’re writing, you’re working at the correct pace. Don’t think; just write.
Don’t be afraid of anything that comes out either. I like to think of it as “getting the poison out”. Poison is nasty; it’ll come out nasty. Also, that doesn’t mean that you are a bad person either, just a fed up one. However, once it’s out, it’s out. Better out than in.
This method was so powerful for me that I’ve only needed to use it about four times before I started seeing very good results. Now, I very rarely use it, because the poison is out. I even threw that notebook away.
This brings me to journaling in general. I hate the traditional journal because it takes too much time. However, short journaling takes only a few minutes.
A short journal is a very small pad of paper that you fill with your top five items of the day, both good and bad. I use bullet points because that’s how little time I want to spend on it. It takes about five to ten minutes for the whole thing.
Avoid cleaning day causalities, write where to place your notebook.
3) Forgive yourself
I used to be so bad at this! Everything was my fault. Everything was my failure. Everything was my job to fix. It eats you up. It took months (and I’m still not perfect) but if something goes wrong, I promise that I will forgive myself for any short comings and try again tomorrow. “Try again tomorrow” is what works for me, but another motto might work for you. You do you.
4) Workout!…but within reason.
Everyone says, “Working out reduces stress.” It does. Here is were it went wrong for me. I have lots of energy. I’ve always been decently in shape. If I worked out a lot, the stress went away. Lets say, 3 hours of activity was enough. The stress came back. I worked out. I got in better shape! So then, it took 4 hours for me to be tired enough to calm down. I got up to 9 hours of physical activity to calm down.
Yeah, 9 hours, so unless I was hiking mountains all day on Sat, I was always stressed out.
Stress means your “elevated”; exercise also puts you into an “elevated” state. So working out when stressed was pairing them in my mind. I needed to be utterly exhausted to stop feeling anxious, and that’s not healthy. Instead, pair the “elevated” times of stress with the “de-elevated” actions of yoga/meditation. It has helped a lot.
I still work out almost every day, but instead of doing a super long workout, I’ll do a normal workout and meditation/deep breathing.
I only bring with this up because I’m sure you have all heard the chorus of ”exercise!” and no one should need to workout 9 hours to feel okay.
Hope this helps you make wonderful things!
What do you do to fight stress? Any good tips? Please tell me in the comments below!
If you liked this post, you might like these others
How to Win at Creative Adult – The Two List Method
If you’d like additional reading on the subject; I would recommend these books to anyone who is looking to get a better handle on their stress. I’ve read each about three times.
This is what I use to journal, so tiny!
*Images used are either my own or public domain
*Also, I’m just an artist and am in no way licensed as anything else. Take this advise at your own risk.