Monday, 17 August 2015

The Self-Esteem Team blog tour - Guest Post: How to cope with Stress

I'm really lucky to be a part of The Self-Esteem Team blog tour! The Self-Esteem Team's Guide to Sex, Drugs and WTFs?!! is a book full of self-help tips and advice for teens, by the knowledgeable Grace Barrett, Natasha Devon and Nadia Mendoza. 

If you're a teen, pre-teen, or someone that would benefit for some good advice, then this book is the one for you! As a part of the blog tour, I'm very happy to host Nadia Mendoza today, who has some tips about coping with stress, something that we all struggle with - especially teens. 

How to Cope with Stress
By Nadia Mendoza of the Self-Esteem Team

Ever try to learn the colours of the rainbow by memorising the story ‘Richard Of York Gave Battle In Vain’? Or maybe you spend your life inventing (and forgetting) social media shortcuts, like SSDD [Same Sh*t Different Day], NOYB [None Of Your Business], or POS [Parent Over Shoulder]? 
Well, to help you cope with stress, we decided to come up with a very simple acronym so as not to stress you out anymore: DE-STRESS.

Follow these simple guidelines, and while you may not find yourself floating on CNBITE [Cloud Nine, Because It Doesn’t Exist], you may find yourself able to detangle the stresses and strains of daily life.

D IS FOR DIALOGUE (with yourself): 
They say talking to yourself is the first sign of madness... but what might you think if we said it was the first sign of sanity? 

You’ve probably heard the theory that people have an angel on one shoulder representing virtue and a devil on the other repping temptation. Now, imagine those warring characters as little people inside your head. The angelic voice is like a personal cheerleader, going, 'You can do this!' The demon is a constant negative, saying, ‘You can't, you can’t, you can’t.’ 

Having a daily dialogue inside your mind allows you to take control of your thinking, and essentially tell the demon/unwanted thoughts to bugger off. 

Despite our brain living inside our body, people still forget that the two are entirely connected and work in tandem. So skipping meals and/or dieting not only has an effect on our physical self, but our mental self too, for example, low blood sugar levels will affect moods and energy. 
Put simply, an undernourished body consequently leads to an undernourished mind.
Being kind to yourself by stocking up on nutrients is guaranteed to help memory, concentration, creativity and make us less stressed. We only get one body, so be sure to nourish, not punish yours.

We are so caught up in doing, scrolling, liking, watching, favouriting, that we rarely do absolutely zilch. Over the summer especially, take yourself out to your garden or the local park and lie on the grass, starfish optional, looking up at the sky. No headphones even. What can you hear? Birds chirping? Babies crying? Cars on the road? Your own breath? 
A timeout from the hecticness (that is a word, right?) of it all can really put things into perspective when looking at the vastness of the sky. ‘Me time’ is important, creating the building blocks of a tranquil mind that you have the power to calm down in those moments life seems so overwhelming.

Seeing things physically written down allows you to not only process what needs doing, but also prioritise. It really helps with organising, meaning more time to party after!! Seeing everything in black and white tidies the mind – with the ‘I can’ voice dominating – and there is a great and simple satisfaction to actually ticking things off and scribbling them out with a tick once they've been done.

Obviously spontaneity is the spice of life, but having the same bed time every night, as well as dinner time, relaxation time or homework time, really reduces stress as it creates a familiar, comforting, and efficient environment. It also gives you a sense of control, knowing what's coming next.

Sounds dull, but sturdy building blocks to de-stress begin with exercise. We’re designed to move, not sit on our bums cramming facts into our brains parrot-fashion until we feel ready to implode. 
Moving more means releasing endorphins, what we like to think of as nature’s anti-depressant. Endorphins are known as ‘happy hormones’, with an increase in your body leading to a feeling of euphoria which helps fight the negative effects of stress. Shame you can’t buy them in a jar.
Exercise – whether yoga, running marathons or chasing your siblings – relaxes tense muscles (which tend to stiffen involuntarily when we’re stressed). 
And remember what we said about the mind and body working in unison? 
Chilled out muscles = zen mind (and vice versa).

Underestimate the power of sleep, and you need a bonk on the head. Sleep is off the chart when it comes to keeping the mind de-stressed. 
Firstly, step away from the smartphone. Sleep with it on silent, or turn it off, or leave it in a shoe at the other end of the room, whatever you’ve got to do to banish if from you for eight hours of rest.
Not only does a lot of stress come from comparing our lives to other people’s (which won’t help if you’re scrolling through social media before sleep, leaving you paranoid you’re missing out on fun as you try to nod off) but as we like to preach:  sleep is the king pin in cognitive function. Unlike the rest of your body, the only time your brain can clean itself is when you're snoozing. It's also the time that your muscles repair themselves (again, bodies need to ‘untense’ so the mind follows).

Letting your hair down is a really important part of de-stressing as, simply put, it’s FUN!! It takes the focus away from the daily grind and allows you to just be you. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy ‘n all that. Whatever works best for you – whether it’s a phone call with a mate, having a kick around the park, inviting someone over to watch Netflix – it doesn’t always mean spending loads of money or leaving the house, just hanging out with someone and listening to tunes is enough to drown out the intensities of work or school. Besides, a problem shared really is a problem halved, so you could always confide in your friend about what’s going in your head. Chances are they’ll either have some tips or just be there for you to chill and enjoy a family-sized tub of Ben & Jerry’s together.

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