At one point or another, we all find ourselves in situations that disrupt our natural rhythm, whether it be unemployment, troubles at school, or illness. When life hits hard, it’s common to find yourself struggling to stay afloat. If stress is ignored or poorly dealt with, the sympathetic nervous system— or the “fight-or-flight” system —is activated for too long, which can lead to varying degrees of damage throughout the body. As someone with chronic mental and physical illness, I find myself having to combat this regularly. Here are a few things I’ve found to be helpful for me.
10 Tips for Finding Peace
1. Engage in regular exercise
You’ve probably been told this many, many times already. Exercise releases endorphins, making you feel good. But what no one will tell you is that your exercise routine doesn’t have to be intense or long lasting, or anything like that. Not everyone is built for the same activities. In fact, rigorous exercise makes me feel worse more often than not. Instead of running or doing sit-ups, you can do yoga or take a casual walk around the neighborhood. All that matters is you get your body moving.
2. Keep an eye on your diet
Stress often manifests itself as poor eating habits. Some overeat in the hopes that food will make them feel better, or because they feel like they are out of control and can’t stop themselves. Others skip meals due to lack of appetite or motivation to get up and make something. Both too much and not enough fuel can leave you feeling tired, irritated, or sick and make you more stressed than you already are. Sticking to the right kind and amount of food for you is a key part of your body’s proper functioning.
3. Get some sleep
Sleep is another key component of a healthy body. It gives us time to recharge, file away memories, repair damaged tissues, etc. If drinking tea, listening to music, or removing distractions doesn’t seem to help you any, you may have to consider some outside assistance. I take 10mg of melatonin every night to get me to fall asleep. A lot of my friends have to have medication prescribed for them. There’s no shame in talking to a doctor for help.
4. Switch up your daily routine
There’s a reason that nobody likes staring at the wall for hours. Humans need stimulation. You can add some to your day by changing a few small things like taking a different route to work, having something new for lunch, or even changing your phone background. I pick a new one every month or so and it’s actually pretty refreshing.
5. Make time for things you enjoy
Doing things that make you happy to counteract things that don’t seems like a no-brainer, but it can actually be pretty hard to find the opportunity or motivation to do so. If you don’t have much down time, see if there are small ways to squeeze in something you like. A lot of the time when I’m writing or working on something else I’ll play something to listen to in the background, like a funny podcast or some music I’ve been meaning to listen to. I also like to watch a short episode of a show I’m into while taking my lunch break.
6. Find something to look forward to
Being excited for something in the future can be a good motivator to push through the present. It could be something like ordering something online, a lunch date with your friend, or a movie marathon at home over the weekend.
7. Maintain a healthy support network
Having someone to talk with when things are rough can help reduce the pressure you’re feeling. It’s also nice to have people who understand and care about you so you feel less alone. It doesn’t have be a ton of people; one or two close friends can be enough. Anyone who makes you feel loved and appreciated.
8. Practice mindfulness
The idea is to just be aware of and accept your thoughts, feelings, and surroundings. This can be tricky for a lot of people. We tend to focus on things that trouble us and criticize the way we think and react to things in life. Being mindful can be a good grounding technique to help clear your mind and be gentler with yourself. There are apps and websites that can help guide you if it’s too hard for you at first.
9. Let yourself exist
This is something my last counselor suggested that has really stuck with me. In today’s world, we often put emphasis on our productivity and ability to be unaffected by hardship. When you’re stressed, you might be off your game and feel angry or disappointed with yourself because of it. There are an infinite amount of things in life that are completely out of our control. Instead of punishing yourself for what you have no power over, focus on what things you can influence. Let yourself exist within the confines of the situation.
10. Talk to a professional
No matter how many friends you have or self-help books you read, sometimes you’ll still need to talk to a therapist or psychiatrist. Having a well-informed, outside party work through your problems with you can be the best way to take control over your life and change it for the better. Even if you don’t have a mental illness or disorder. Nowadays it’s possible to find help online if you can’t afford or don’t have access to a regular therapist.
Remember that there’s no shame in asking for help in any situation. You don’t have to do everything on your own! There are so many people out there ready to lend a hand if you just reach out for it.
Do you have any tips for finding peace during hard times? Share them in the comments to let others know what works for you!
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(n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.apa.org/helpcenter/understanding-chronic-stress
(n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.apa.org/helpcenter/stress-body