Writing by Isa Denney Strother // Illustrations by Jordyn McGeachin
Some of us know the feeling of choking on air, the room closing in on you as you sink further and further into yourself. Some of us know the feeling that every single person in the world is suddenly staring at you; the feeling of not being able to breathe anymore because the air is too thick in your own overactive mind’s thoughts. Some of us know the feeling of being too loud, even as we whisper, the feeling of not knowing where you want to go and where you are.
Some of us know these feelings more than others; the ‘I can’t deal’ feeling. The ‘stop talking to me or I’ll cry and I really don’t want to cry’ feeling. Some of us feel them every day, and some of us only feel this way once in our lifetimes, and those are the lucky ones.
Stress is a strangling feeling for me. It’s a choking, gurgling, bleeding feeling. It’s a lost in a crowd and pained feeling.
And so, I am writing an article on stress relief; I know about stress relief. I know about stress and anxiety and sadness and feeling lost even when you’re on a one way road and you literally cannot be going in the wrong direction. I am writing about being the fine line between angst and depression. I’m writing about how easy it is to think you’re fine and how easy it is to slip and prove to everyone that you are not fine. You are not okay at all.
Here are my tips for stress and anxiety relief.
One: Drink tea. Anxiety doesn’t like tea. Sometimes, tea will be your first weapon. Skip the caffeine, and make yourself a cup of tea to lay back with. Count to ten. Sip slowly. Get lost in the steam, and hopefully, feel better.
Tea can be very therapeutic. It can be a home away from home; it can make things fall into place by letting you relax long enough to figure out what’s going on. I’ve found it hard to keep my mind going a million kilometers a minute when I’m drinking tea…it slows everything down to a beautiful slow motion, letting your thoughts catch up to your unconscious, giving you time to find the problem and run through solutions in your mental laboratory.
Lemon and Ginger.
And other aromatic, tart teas.
Two: Take a hot shower. Showers are cleansing both physically and mentally. You can wash away the dirt of the moment, and clean out the corners of your mind. The hot water can wake you up, even if you’ve been conscious for hours. A shower can push away the feelings of drowning in reality, if only temporarily.
A shower is also a good place to cry, let some emotion out. There is no shame in crying. Crying is good for you. It’s a release. Sometimes, the only thing that make you feel better is a good cry, and the shower is an ideal place to do it.
Three: Let yourself cry. Related to point two, this point is based around the idea that there is a value in tears. I believe there is healthy crying and unhealthy crying. The occasional meltdown in the shower is healthy, in my opinion; it let’s you get rid of a lot of feeling in a little time. It gives you a break; a fresh slate.
I think the value in crying is getting rid of the weight that’s pinning you down. The emotional baggage you cannot deal with, even at the best of times, and generally, times are not the best.
I believe that crying becomes harmful when you can’t hold back the tears; letting them drag you down. Crying yourself to sleep every night, or curling up on your bedroom floor (just because it’s cooler than the bed and you deserve wood) or not being able to hold yourself together in the least stressful of stressful situations is when crying becomes harmful.
Some tips I’ve learnt for dealing with crying:
A tip I learnt from my mumma: if you think you’re about to cry, and you feel sorry about anything, don’t go and hug someone that means a lot to you, unless you’re ready to release some floods. For me, personally, that’s a sure fire way to start yourself off.
Make some tea and watch a funny video. It’s hard to watch something funny and cry at the same time.
Think of something that means a lot to you. Something you are looking forward to, like going out for breakfast, or a new movie coming out that you desperately want to see.
Take a shower and let the tears run their course.
Take a nap; you might be just tired. Life is harder to deal with if you are tired.
Eat something; I cry sometimes when I’m not eating enough, or I’ve forgotten to eat (which happens more often than I’d like to admit).
Four: Get yourself dressed up. Sometimes if you’re stressed out or sad, it helps to look more confident than you are, and there is nothing to boost confident like faking it on the outside until you feel it on the inside. Put on some make up, wear some glitter, heels, or a nice dress. Dig out a bow tie, or wear a three piece suit; whatever makes you feel fancy and confident. Fake a smile.
A few items that make me feel fancy af:
Bow ties. Bow ties are fabulous, especially if they’re colourful or sparkly.
Glitter. I like to wear it on my face because it makes me feel like a fairy.
Lace. I like to wear lace to look a little more fancy than usual.
Pants that match your shirt. There is nothing fancy then than that, apart from maybe matching socks. 😉
Five: Do some reading or writing or drawing; something stimulating that requires concentration and thought. It takes your mind off whatever is making you anxious, stressed, or sad. Avoid books that make you feel bad, instead write about how you feel or draw a visual representation. Sometimes it makes things easier to deal with if you can explain it to yourself in writing/art. Colouring books are also amazing!
Anxiety, stress and depression all happen at once sometimes. One sets off the other two and that makes everything so, so much harder. If you can deal with them all at once, it’s a major plus. Sometimes it helps to talk to people, and you shouldn’t be afraid to tell someone that you’re hurting. People want to help you. Your friends and family want you to be okay.
Here are some typical situations I find myself in that make me anxious or stressed out;
Going to coffee with friends.
Going to a party, even if it’s just with family and friends.
Not knowing everything on a test, even when the test doesn’t matter.
Not knowing where I stand with people.
All of these situations either stress me out, or make me feel very anxious which makes me feel sad which can eventually make me depressed. My solution to this is to try and forget about the fact that I might not be enjoying the situation at that moment and try to have as much fun as I can. It’s hard to feel down if you’ve given yourself the best day you could have had.
There is a line someplace between teenage angst and actual depression. I don’t know where the line is; it’s someplace between crying a lot and thinking about ghosts, and not getting up for days, and forgetting to breath. Luckily for me, I have lovely people all around me who can find the line when I can’t, and who fight me to bring me back to a safe place.
I don’t have many tips for finding a balance between a healthy dose of angst and a bs dose of sadness, but my main tip is do what you enjoy and don’t feel guilty for liking it. Nothing makes me feel worse than beating myself up for not being like other people, or not doing what I love because it might make me seem strange. If I want to sit in the sun and draw pictures of plants turning into people then I will, thank you very much, and be very pleased about it too!
Surround yourself with good, kind, and loving people!
Let yourself live the best life you could!
Get dressed and make up your bed even if you don’t want to!
Sometimes, let yourself hang in your pajamas all day long!
May you listen to good music and eat good food today. 🙂