I love my comfort-zone. It is one of the things I have noticed even more now that I am in Milan, constantly away from my comfort-zone. A temporary room will never really feel like home and being in new situations each day can be very confronting. Sometimes it gets too much for me. The last few weeks were especially hard, because I had a lot of stress added by the project I am doing. Another thing I have learned about myself is that I worry A LOT. Which adds more stress to situations. However there is a positive side, because being out here has made me confront the way I deal with it and since I could not go back to my usual safe places (in the Netherlands) I had to find new ones. So here are some of the ways I have dealt with my stress these last weeks and how it helped me.
Take a walk
I never really walked much in the Netherlands. Mostly because biking exists and it just gets you places faster, but since I don’t have a bike here and walking lets you see more of the city, I have started taking long walks. Whenever I spent the entire day behind the computer, in my room, getting all worked up about stuff, I would go out and start walking to Duomo (a good 50 minute walk). It is great. You can choose if you want to listen to music and not think about anything, or let the sounds of the city comfort you.
Confronting my thoughts
Another thing that really helped me was rational thinking. I would think what the worst was that could happen, or what I was really worried about and then think if that was actually true, or if that could even happen. Every time it turned out I was worried about something that just was never going to happen, or that was not really as bad as I made it out to be. Confronting these thoughts and rationally putting them aside again really helped me get some perspective on the situation.
I recently saw this video from the youtube channel ‘How to Adult’ called ‘3 Tips to overcome stress & anxiety’ and one of the comments talked about how it helped to think that some things you just can’t change, so it is useless to worry about it. This is something that also helped get rid of some of my worries. Because assumptions about what could happen in the future, are not predictions of what is going to happen in the future. Sometimes you just need to do the best you can do (like preparing for a project) and then wait until the teacher says what he/she thinks. You can’t make predictions about the future, so sometime you just need to let life happen so you can deal with what happened afterwards.
Taking deep breaths
Very obvious one, but I forget it really easily, BREATHING. Sometimes I get really scared of a situations and I hold my breath, or start to take really tiny, shallow breaths. This does not help your body feel more relaxed. So when I notice I am doing this, I take ten really long, deep breaths and usually this already clears some of the fog in my head and calms my body down.
Water and sugar
Another thing I tend to forget is to eat. When I am stressed, or worried my stomach feels like this knot that can not deal with food, so I don’t eat. Which does not help! So now I bring sweets or cookies or fruit with me, so when I feel like I can’t eat, I can at least eat a candy/apple/cookie and this usually loosens ‘the knot’ making it possible for me to eat an actual meal and not starve myself because of stress. I also tend to get really shaky when I am stressed and sugar helps calm that down a little too. Water is just as important, however I don’t really forget to drink water when I am stressed, since it is my go-to thing to do when I am stressed. But I know that other people sometimes forget to drink, and the act of drinking water can be really calming (hence I drink so much when I am stressed). Re-filling a water bottle is also a great excuse to take a walk.
This was a pretty long post, but I hope it helps you if you ever feel stressed out about something. I will definitely be referring myself to this post the next time I stress about something. One last thing is to remember to talk to people about it. Other people often have a fresh perspective and see your problem as big as it actually is (aka small) instead of this gigantic thing it is for you. Also, go out and do something for yourself if you are feeling stressed, ‘me-time’ is sometimes all you need to get your ducks in a row and to be able to keep going. Good luck!