The past several weeks have been stressful for me, to say the least. The relationships of many people I care about are falling apart. Kieran has been a cranky, whiny, teething mess. I’ve had two major publications reject my blog post submissions. It’s to the point that I’m having trouble sleeping at night.
The resulting stress eating has been delicious, but after countless cookies, bowls of ice cream, bags of chips, and upset tummies, I’ve realized I need a more productive way to deal with my stress. It got me thinking — who could I ask who would have a unique perspective on how to deal with all this?
Enter: my four experts. I found you four super rad #girlbosses to give you their best stress-busting tips. A health writer, a reiki master, a yoga teacher, and a personal trainer are weighing in with their two cents.
WARNING — they’re not going to tell you to take a bubble bath and call it a day. The advice these amazing ladies are dishing out goes straight to the root of the problem. Are you ready to hear what they have to say? Read on for some truly valuable information on how you can say goodbye to your stress for good.
Stress-busting tip #1: Detach from the outcome
Leesa Klich, Health Writer
The best, and most difficult, way I’ve found to alleviate stress is to do my best right this very moment and detach from the outcomes.
Much stress comes from regret and worry about the result of our actions (the outcomes). We wish things would go a certain way. The reality is that we usually can’t control the outcomes.
So I wonder why we focus so much on things we can’t control? If we focus on right now — doing the right thing the best way we can — and let go of what we want (or wanted) to happen, we can truly alleviate stress.
I do this by centring in on the “now” and carefully choosing my thoughts and actions. I try to accept whatever outcomes occur as they naturally unfold. We can’t control others’ reactions to what we say and do — we can only do our best every moment and continue to do better as we learn more. When I’ve done things I regret, I reframe it as a learning experience and try to fix them. If I’m worried about the future, I look at what I’m thinking, saying, and doing right now and challenge myself to accept whatever comes of it.
One of my favourite concepts is from Helena Blavatsky. She describes the continuum like this:
- Futile longings (lead to),
- Expectations (which lead to),
- Sad memories (which lead to),
- Broken heartedness.
What I think is that if we reduce our “futile longings” and expectations, we can alleviate so much of our sad memories and broken heartedness.
Stress-busting tip #2: Be your authentic self
Ashley Grant, Soul Purpose Reiki
Stress, like everything else, has an energy. When we feel stress on a continued basis, this energy is depleting to our system. Each of us carries our stress in different areas of the body. Generally, people who worry carry this stress in their knees. People who feel like they don’t speak up carry this stress in their throats. People who feel like they are carrying everyone else often feel it in their neck and shoulders. Why do we feel this chronic sense of stress? I want to focus on three main reasons I see in my work as a Reiki Master and what you can do to help alleviate the stress in your body and your life.
Life is busy, but we make it busier by filling up the moments and space we do have with mindless scrolling, messaging, or selfies. When was the last time you sat in a waiting room, bus stop, or restaurant (when your partner goes to the washroom), and didn’t pull out your phone? We are so uncomfortable being present that we switch to anything to fill the space. Stop in these moments; look around, breathe in and out.
Validation and/or fear
We are validated simply for being stressed in the culture we live in. Doing “too much” is something that we value. Along with that, many people do so many things that cause them stress because of what someone else will think, say, or do. This is the reason you are on that committee you don’t want to be on, the reason you won’t quit that job you hate.
Being out of alignment with your true purpose
If you don’t know what your “purpose” is, I’m talking about that big, wonderful, expansive feeling of doing what you love. You need more space to find out what that is. How? Meditate, journal, be in nature, get a massage, get a reiki treatment, sit in a restaurant and observe. Create the space for your mind, body and soul to NOT be bombarded — this is where the magic happens! If you do know your purpose, don’t hold back, regardless of the validation you will or won’t receive. The world deserves wonderful people doing what they are passionate about — be one of them!
Stress-busting tip #3: Get a good night’s sleep
Ivory VanVeen, Yoga Instructor
My go-to stress busters are journalling and Yoga Nidra.
When I have too much on my mind, I find the best thing to do is put it on paper. Otherwise the same stories, dramas, and lists continue to play on repeat. As soon as I have it on paper, it is out of my mind and I can sleep.
My second tip is try Yoga Nidra (for 5-20 minutes) each morning, after work, or before bed. Yoga Nidra is a state of consciousness between waking and sleeping, like the “going-to-sleep” stage. In this state, the body is completely relaxed, and the practitioner becomes increasingly aware of the inner world by following a set of verbal prompts. Yoga Nidra is especially great for people with insomnia or anxiety. Sometimes, I find just giving myself five minutes to do absolutely nothing can leave me feeling more energized. Check out one of my favourite free Yoga Nidra recordings on YouTube.
Stress-busting tip #4: Practice mindful movement
Meaghan Sutter, Peak Training Whistler
When we think of gym training, we don’t often think of mental health, meditation or mindfulness — in fact, we often think the opposite. We associate exercise with high intensity, profuse sweating and working hard. Through personal training, I have met many women who crush workouts day after day, yet still seem unhappy with themselves, not only in body but also in mind.
I, too, used to be like this. When I was younger, I foolishly exercised because, let’s be frank, I more or less hated my body. I didn’t liked how it looked, how it fit into clothes, or even how it moved. So I exercised extensively to try to change, but like many women, to no avail.
It wasn’t until I found true strength training that my mindset changed (and so did my body, but that’s a story for another day). When I changed my focus in the gym from how I looked to how I functioned, I found peace within myself that I had never known before.
My workouts slowed down. They were purposeful. They were mindful. They were meditative. I had a goal, but this time, it was about the quality of my movement instead of whether I’d look good in a bikini next week at the beach.
Take squatting, for example. When you do squats, what do you think about? Is it just hammering out as many reps as possible, or do you think about the form, the tempo, the muscles you feel, or the exertion you’re experiencing?
Exercise is important for stress-busting, but mindful exercise takes it one step further. The workout becomes a form of self-care instead of a method of self-torture (because admit it — how many times do you try to sustain an exercise program even though you hate it?). When we slow down, focus on being strong, and moving with purpose, our entire mindset alters towards our exercise regime. We’re adding something that’s positive instead of enduring something that’s negative. We enjoy the process, which has been correlated to improved mood, betterment of mental well-being and yes, decreased stress. We’re essentially doing a meditative body scan each time we exercise — feeling what sensations are occurring in our bodies and learning how to acknowledge the sensation without judgement.
When we slow down, focus on the positives, and incorporate mindfulness into our exercise, our mindset improves, our stress levels decrease, and we are free to become the best version of ourselves.
Final thoughts on stress-busting
There you have it, ladies (and gents?). Wine is delicious, but it ain’t gonna fix ya. And neither will Miss Vickie’s salt and vinegar chips (sorry, that was more a reminder for myself). If we really want to kick our stress, something’s gotta give. Something’s gotta change. And now we have four different approaches to try!
Which stress-busting tip do you plan on trying? Let us know in the comments below!