De-stress & Decompress

Started by Blythe, February 05, 2018, 06:34:13 PM

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This is a blog all about dealing with stress, intense situations, and strong emotions. A few things before I get into the more enjoyable content of the blog, as a disclaimer:

* My blog won't be a substitute for RL therapy/counseling, of course, nor for appropriate RL help of any kind. I myself attend counseling, and it's given me some wonderful tools to deal with stress.
* This is not a place to just vent about one's life. Sharing an anecdote or two is fine, but persistent negativity will be directed to the Bad and the Ugly forum or an Apologies & Absences thread.
* Not everything in here will work for everyone! People are all different. I welcome discussion of healthy methods to cope with stress, even when they aren't methods that work for me personally. They might still work for someone else reading along! The methods I tend to give advice about and discuss work for me, but you aren't necessary me. They might not for you!

My next post, which will go up shortly, will talk about how to deal with 'nervous energy.' :)


~ Nervous Energy & You: How to Deal ~

We've all been here, or at least I like to think we all have.

Someone tells you something you don't want to hear. You get devastating bad news. Someone cuts you off. You have a deadline you have to meet. It can be any of those things or more. The end result for some folks is this horrible burst of panic-induced energy, this unpleasant jitterbug sort of energy that makes you feel like you need to do something right now.

And sometimes that's either a very bad idea or you aren't actually able to. So what now?

Well, for me, the steps I learned to deal with this sort of feeling are the following:

1) Step away from the situation if that is possible. Sometimes panic-feelings will push you to try to resolve a problem ASAP, but that's not always possible. It is okay to sometimes not resolve something immediately, trust me.

2) Select a low-priority activity. Nervous energy usually needs to go somewhere, so give it an outlet. Don't pick something important, though, because it needs to be something low-impact and low-consequence. Some ideas--light organizing, cleaning, some light revision or writing. Pick something that you could re-do later if your nervous energy gets a little too much, since it can make you rush a task. The task should, ideally, take some time and not be a 'fast' task.

3) Once you finish that activity, take time for something quiet. Something that lets you wind down. This can be cooking a little snack, listening to music, or reading a favorite book. This lets you finish 'burning' the last of that energy.

4) Got to this step? Great! Now rest a little. I know, it seems like step 4 is hard, and it would be if you didn't do steps 2 & 3. But once you do steps 2 & 3, you should have burned off some energy, and you might be feeling a little bit of a crash from that panic-given adrenaline, so resting is good. It also gives you a little more distance from the original situation.

5) Once steps 1 - 4 are done, hopefully you feel calmer. No, the stress will not go away. Stress doesn't just 'leave.' That was one of the hardest lessons for me to accept when I started learning how to deal with my own stress levels. But the worst of the panic should be through, and you should be able to approach the situation in a calmer frame of mind and handle it with more tact and grace.

~ * * * ~

You might be thinking "But what if I can't step away?! What if it's so serious that I'm required here now?!"

A common thought. And indeed there are things you might not be able to immediately step back from to get that time to calm down, like a family emergency. My advice:

1) Take stock of the situation. Gather information that you need. You cannot help a situation if you remain ignorant of the situation. Typically speaking, in any given situation, seeking help/advice from an authority figure is good. Don't pester anyone. Be respectful. And be sure to focus on the right people to talk to. (Medical professional, officer, administrator, trusted relative, etc.). These are helpful activities that let you direct your energy into something constructive. (Pro-tip: if someone has cut you off, they are probably not the right person to talk to, for example. Context will help direct you to the 'right' people in any given situation)

2) Remember that there is only so much within your control that you can do. Do not waste your energy or effort on things you cannot change. Direct your focus to things that you can change in a healthy and constructive way. You'd be surprised how much panic-type energy comes from worrying about things that you can't do anything about. Make sure your focus is actually where it needs to be.

3) Self-care is important. You cannot deal with stress if you aren't looking after yourself. You are not going to work through things if you are exhausted, hungry, or hurt. Take time out to look after yourself. When the panic is high, it will feel like a 'waste,' like you 'could be doing something more important!' but trust me...that's not true. Stress is so much easier to deal with when you are rested, have eaten, and when you're actively managing any health-related issues with your body.


Little Oni has been having to deal with a lot of stress recently (some of it self-induced).  One of the counselors at her high school pointed us to this resource at Dartmouth College's Student Wellness site.  It has some guided relaxation exercises and meditations, as well as soothing non-verbal tracks, all available as free downloadable MP3's (so you can take them on the go!)
"Language was invented for one reason, boys - to woo women.~*~*~Don't think it's all been done before
And in that endeavor, laziness will not do." ~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~Don't think we're never gonna win this war
Robin Williams-Dead Poets Society ~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~Don't think your world's gonna fall apart
I do have a cause, though.  It's obscenity.  I'm for it.  - Tom Lehrer~*~All you need is your beautiful heart
O/O's Updated 5/11/21 - A/A's - Current Status! - Writing a novel - all draws for Fool of Fire up!
Requests updated March 17


Thank you so much for this! I have been going through something right now and I know I find that making graphics helps a lot. I can focus on things, but it's not a short task, it gives a place for all the anxiety to kind of channel and I can listen to music while I do it.

I appreciate these pointers and there are definitely some I think could help me :) You rock, Blythe.


Quote from: Blythe on February 05, 2018, 07:08:12 PM
~ Nervous Energy & You: How to Deal ~

2) Select a low-priority activity. Nervous energy usually needs to go somewhere, so give it an outlet. Don't pick something important, though, because it needs to be something low-impact and low-consequence. Some ideas--light organizing, cleaning, some light revision or writing. Pick something that you could re-do later if your nervous energy gets a little too much, since it can make you rush a task. The task should, ideally, take some time and not be a 'fast' task.
This specifically has helped me so much. When my anxiety is really bad I make myself drink a glass (or two) of water. It helps to steady my breathing (which often gets a little hyper), if I chug it down I know I've not been drinking enough water (and correcting that helps it easier to find my center/control), and it is a thing that I can ask to do that won't be denied (which is important for those times when I need to exit a situation).
This prion is feeling: femme

Lurkin and workin for now > 3>


I am so guilty of needing to resolve things immediately.  Like if something has gone wrong with a utility or bank, and I don't find out about it until after closing time on Friday, I go nuts all weekend because I can't do anything. 

Something I have personally found helpful though...  I bought a bag of sea salt Epsom salts.  I put a cup in a nice hot bath, lay back, and envision the salty water just sucking all the nervous energy and negativity right out of me.  A person could use that as part of step 3 or 4.   


@Oniya: Thank you for the link; I will try some of those out!

@Amaris: Oooh, graphics are fun. I do digital art sometimes as my 'time-consuming' task, so I can relate! I also listen to music--I usually angle either for 'reliable' old favorite songs or instrumentals that I can sort of loop for background music. ^^

@oneiricprion: I haven't tried drinking a glass of water when I feel stressed. Hmmm. That sounds like a really good idea, especially as I could stand to drink more water! Thank you for sharing! :)

@Serephino: Epsom salts are also helpful if one has a sprain or muscle ache, so it's a two-for when it comes to self-care! ^^


~ Dealing with "No" ~

Been working on this blog post for a while, sorry about the delay! Can't believe it took me this long! I wrote this when I was stressing after not scoring a job I wanted. I was turned down super politely, but wow was it stressful.

One of the things that can be incredibly stressful is something that is also incredibly simple. Dealing with the word 'no.' This particular blog entry is designed to talk about the irrational feelings that happen when dealing with refusal, rejection, or being unable to 'solve' something. A lot of times, feeling as though one cannot ''fix' things can lead to exorbitant stress, but the fact of the matter is that oftentimes its easy to read into 'no' too much and assume it means something it doesn't. (I've seriously been in this position where I really overthought something simple and made it worse. ICK. Like every time I've been turned down when job hunting. OW.  :-( )

Maybe you offered to help with a project. Maybe you applied for a job. Maybe you're asking that cute dude out. Maybe you want to offer a gift. And suddenly, the person says, "Thanks for asking or offering, but no, I'm not interested." Oh no! What did I do wrong! you might think. Why wouldn't they be interested in something I have to offer?

Well, sometimes 'no' is less about you and more about the other person. It's very easy to read into 'no' too much. Sometimes that person working on a project has a company restriction that won't let them have people outside the project help. Maybe you were totally qualified for the new position but they have a first-come first-serve, so someone else equally as good as you just happened to be there first. Maybe that cute dude isn't available to date right now. Maybe the person who doesn't want a gift has nowhere to put a gift in an already cluttered house. There's a lot of really reasonable reasons a person might reject you where it doesn't reflect badly on you. It's also very likely they are still fond of you or at least cordial.

It comes down to being respectful. There's nothing wrong with feeling bad that you were told no! What's important is to remember that it's not some critically defining moment most of the time. Very rarely is it an actual reflection of who you are. Don't dwell. Dwelling will increase your stress level. (Seriously, sitting alone anywhere and thinking too much is like an open invitation to stress)

Go do something that boosts your spirits. Maybe someone else wants help, or to date you, or maybe someone else would really like that gift! Or treat yourself to something nice. Or pick out a favorite beloved hobby that always lifts your spirits and just dive right in. Kick the negative feelings that come with 'no' right out of your brain--you can respect it while moving on.

'But what if the person told me 'no' in a hurtful or rude way?' you might be thinking.

Pictured: The brain reacting to rudeness

Still not a reason to stress. If someone is hurtful, do a little self care for yourself and remember that they were hurtful & adjust your behavior accordingly. If they were mean when telling you 'no,' maybe the situation is one you were better off not getting involved with anyway.

But what if you encounter something a bit beyond a simple 'no?' What if its a pretty total 'no'--the sort of 'no' that ends something--a relationship, a career, a family tie, a friendship? So...this happens to everyone. I really mean it. We've all been in a position where something was so broken we couldn't fix it. You make a good effort, but eventually for whatever reason either you've had enough or the others involved have had enough.

Sometimes stress will lead us to escalate situations that might not be salvageable. Sometimes stress is that little voice in the back of your mind yelling, "OH FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, FIX IT. FIIIIIIX IT."

Pictured: The brain gently screaming to fix unfixable things

Sometimes you can't...and that is okay. You do not have to fix everything all the time. It is not a mark of failure or defeat to acknowledge that something is no longer within your control.

I will tell you this: you will get more stress trying to pour in Herculean efforts into fix the unfixable than you would have by merely letting it go.

So what are some helpful methods to de-stress following hearing 'no'?
  • 'No' creates a lot of energy that needs to get out. It's generally a lot stronger than just nervous energy because it feels more personal. Maybe it's because you're emotional, angry, sad, etc., but it does often create this sense of 'Well crap, what do I do?" I recommend doing some exercise. Coincidentally, exercise should trigger your body producing some endorphins, so it should also help you feel better. (For me, about fifteen minutes of intense cardio burns off the 'bleh' feelings most of the time)
  • Pick something constructive to do. Pick something that you can make a difference in and go do it. A lot of times the worst part of 'no' is that you really wanted to help, explore something new, make a difference, etc., so channel that urge into something else. Do you do volunteer work? If not, I can highly recommend it. Been thinking of donating clothes or food but never got around to it? Now is the time. You need somewhere to go with those feelings, and did you know that when you do good deeds, your body can have a physiological response that helps override hormones like cortisol and the 'flight or fight' response that happens during stress? I usually help my father do yardwork for his fellow church members, even though I'm not part of their church.
  • This is the silliest one, but whenever I've been emotional about the word 'no,' sometimes it helps me to burn off that emotion vicariously. I pick out a really dramatic anime or TV series and boy oh boy, I binge it and binge it hard. Once I've been through the ups and downs with all the characters in the show, suddenly my own stuff seems trivial, and I feel better!
    Your mileage may vary, of course. But this is just my general take on things.