I can control everything I eat, keep track of every ingredient of every food, resist every temptation to eat something with even the slightest hint of a nightshade, but if I am stressed out, the effort all goes out the window.
Naturally, at times, I lose control and do allow stress to consume me (I am a college student, after all), but for the most part I have been able to keep myself from getting too stressed. Stress causes a myriad of physiological problems for most people as it is, and I have the added issue of HS that gets markedly worse if I do not control my stress levels.
So what is my secret? How do I maintain low stress levels?
I could list off the usual things like exercise, diet, meditation, etc. And while some of those things have helped me, the main variable that has transformed my life is totally different. Of course these things should be done to improve overall health (along with a ton of other benefits), and they do help to blow off steam, but they may not reduce stress effectively. Why? Well, they become yet another part of your schedule.
For many people, simply having a full schedule and continually adding things to it can become stressful. If your one activity to reduce stress is going to the gym, well, what if you can’t get to the gym that day? It feels like added pressure, and can actually increase your stress level. My doctor originally recommended yoga for me to reduce stress, but then changed his instructions for the reasons I explained above.
So, what were his altered instructions?
Take about an hour a day for yourself, and spend it doing whatever you want. Do something you love–work on a craft, watch your favorite TV show, experiment with baking, sit with your loved ones, read, take a bath, listen to music, meditate–anything.
That time to yourself to reflect and recharge will allow you to handle the rest of your day with more ease. It will make you feel more balanced and calmer overall.
I know, it sounds too simple. But it really has made all the difference to me, and I hope it will help you too.
Question for you:
How do you manage your stress? Any tips for those of us who are trying to find a balance?