No one in life gets a free pass on stress. It’s like our shadow, following us around, sometimes huge, sometimes small, and thankfully sometimes not there at all. We writers face stress all the time in the form of looming deadlines, writer’s block, research, misbehaving characters, editing and revising, finding time to write, not enough money flowing to the author, and so on. We get so caught up in life (which is truly the messy bits), that we forget to take a breath, and let go.
Stress is our body’s alarm system telling us that there are new changes and demands in our environment. Stress is also a natural response when there are big changes in our lives. Unfortunately, stress can drain our body and mind, making it difficult to focus on other things – like finishing writing that freaking book! In the long run, all we can do is our best.
So how might you do your best?
Increase your activity – especially in pleasurable activities and tackling your list of tasks and responsibilities. Sometimes it’s just a matter of getting out of your seat to stretch, or taking a walk that will release the cork.
Goalsetting – Break long-term goals down into short-term and attainable goals. I know life can get (and does get) in the way of your writing goals. Moving. Publisher closes. Death in family. Parent in hospital. It’s taken me almost two years to complete the next installment of my time travel series. Go with the flow or you’ll be swept away. You need goals to keep you from going under. Plus, they will keep you sane while the hurricane is blowing you around in different directions. Remember: This too shall pass.
Mental Imagery – Imagine yourself successfully coping with a situation, and do a mental rehearsal by envisioning yourself doing the task successfully. This works great for athletes, so give it a try!
Being assertive – Stick up for yourself while being respectful of others. Block off time for you to write or your goals will never be reached. Use “I” statements rather than “you” statements. This sets up your boundaries for others to respect.
Deep breathing 101 – Relaxed breathing is slower and deeper than normal breathing, so when things get crazy, take a mental step back and try this:
· Close your eyes, sit comfortably, scan your body for tension
· Breathe from your belly, not chest
· Your stomach should move out as you breath in, and out as you breath out
· Breath out any anxiety, tension, or pain
· Count from 1 to 8 slowly as you breath:
· One – breathe in
· Two – breathe out
· Three – breathe in
· Four – breathe out
· Five – breathe in
· Six – breathe out
· Seven – breath in
· Eight – breath out
Feel better? Works for me always! I even do this breathing exercise in the car. So in the future, if life gets too messy and those words aren’t making it to the page, then remember to take a deep breath and relax, and know you’re going to do your best to get you through this stressful time in your life.
How do you cope with stress as a writer? What are some of the strategies you use to defuse stress? Would love to read your comments! Cheers and thank you for reading my blog!