You could be the most positive and confident person in the world, but the chances are that you’d still occasionally fall victim to stress. Feeling overwhelmed by stresses happens to the best of us, so the first point to make here is that you’re not alone and you shouldn’t feel like you’ve let yourself or anyone else down. If at any point you feel that you may be suffering from more than a simple bout of stress, you should speak to your GP. There are also many charitable organisations which offer support such as Mind.
Read on to learn more about managing stress in this Vocalzone guide.
Know When You’re Stressed
As Mental Health Foundation notes, it is important to recognise the signs of stress. If you aren’t able to appreciate when stress is becoming too much it can be easy to allow the situation to worsen before trying to manage it. Symptoms can include changes in your sleeping habits, low self-esteem, mood swings, trouble concentrating, feeling overwhelmed or anxious and muscle tension. A more comprehensive list can be found on the Mental Health Foundation’s website. If you recognise any of these symptoms have a think about why you could be stressed. It can help to then divide your stresses into three categories; 1) stresses with practical solutions 2) those that will improve over time and 3) stresses you can’t solve. The next step is to try and let the worries in categories 2 and 3 go. This is easier said than done, but with some stress management you should be able to find some reprieve from even the most challenging long-term stress.
Let Your Friends & Family In
We should start with one of the most important factors in managing stress; sharing how you’re feeling with those closest to you. Many of us can be guilty of taking too much stress on and feeling like we have to keep it to ourselves. Are you that person in your social group who acts as Agony Aunt solving all of your friends’ problems before your own? Whilst it’s great to feel needed, you too need somewhere to turn when you’re stressed. Don’t be apprehensive about reaching out to friends or family when you need them. Even if it seems like a small stress, often just a few words with someone understanding can really minimise the problem. As the saying goes, a problem shared is a problem halved.
Don’t Bite Off More Than You Can Chew
Another popular saying, it is very true that you shouldn’t bite off more than you can chew, especially when it comes to managing stress. Whilst we’ll detail below ways in which you can help reduce your stress levels, it’s important to be realistic about what you can feasibly achieve in a week. In creative industries it’s of course very common to work multiple jobs and have less time to yourself than a friend in a 9 – 5 role. This is part of the sacrifice that many creative professionals are ready to make if it means having a richer creative life and more professional autonomy. You must however take time for yourself. You can learn more about self-care in our Looking After Yourself as an Entertainer article. Failing to set aside time to unwind will have a detrimental impact on your wellbeing and ultimately your work. It can be as simple as going to the cinema, reading a book or going for a walk but we all need time to recharge.
Improve Your Time Management
If you don’t already, start writing down a list of what you need to do. If you’re prone to stress or feeling overwhelmed at the moment, no doubt this list will read like a never ending scroll. Before you rip it up in frustration or exit the document without saving, analyse each item and ask yourself ‘when do I need to do that by?’ Prioritising your list will instantly alleviate some of your stress as it allows you to plan the order in which you complete the list. If an item seems too big try splitting it into a step-by-step series of mini tasks. It’s likely that there will be some items on the list that no longer seem particularly important. If it’s not time critical it goes to the back of the queue! As Skills You Need notes, ‘by editing what might have started out as an overwhelming and unmanageable task list, you can break it down into a series of smaller, more manageable tasks spread out over a longer time frame.’
Ask For Help
Both in your professional and private life it can be tempting to take too much control. When you’re a perfectionist you can worry about trusting a colleague to do a task for you in case they don’t complete it to your standards. Whilst it’s admirable that you have high standards, this attitude is not sustainable. If you’ve got the luxury of working in a team make sure that the workload is spread as evenly as possible. If you work alone be realistic about the projects you take on and give yourself time away from work.
When you’re always striving to better yourself and attain that next goal it is easy to forget to be kind to yourself. Being busy means that it’s not possible to live in a constant party, but you should make time to celebrate some small victories along the way. Try to keep things in perspective by remembering that we all have our off days. Take some time each day to think about what you’ve achieved so far.
The NHS defines mindfulness as awareness of the moment both in terms of the sensations we experience and how we’re feeling. As they state on their mindfulness page, ‘becoming more aware of the present moment can help us enjoy the world around us more and understand ourselves better.’ The theory is that living in the moment more, appreciating the world around you helps to give life a new perspective. Although it’s difficult to learn, mindfulness can enable us to see negative thoughts as mental events, which pass us by rather than dominating our thoughts.