This is a guest blog from a dear friend, Serhan, who is a young adult here in the Denver Metro area.
I have always had a hard time controlling my chronic stress and anxiety. It has kept me from living life fully and getting through the daily grind of life. Although I have more room to grow, I have been able to figure out a few ways to manage the stress in my life and keep my sanity – even at the toughest times when I thought I couldn’t.
Learning to Manage Stress Is a Work-In-Progress
For starters, it was crucial for me to know that handling stress was a work-in-progress, which might require me to try multiple different methods to see which one works the best for ME. Everybody is different; but the most effective way for me was by trying different things out myself – the process of trial and error.
In the darkest of times when I was one slight inconvenience away from blacking out and wreaking havoc, I decided to give therapy a try, as strongly requested by my family. I tried many different therapy methods and visited three separate therapists. After five years of opening up and addressing my problems, it did nothing. Wasn’t for me, and I was back to square one, now more hopeless and stressed than ever. I started working out, eating healthy and cutting down on nicotine, caffeine, and the abundance of other no-no substances which were adding fuel to the fire. I noticed a slight increase in my ability to manage stress, but it did not feel enough, until months later when I encountered an unexpected experience.
My girlfriend and I, along with her parents, went to an arts and crafts bar that you get to work on a project while you have a drink and hang out. I wasn’t even really the artsy type. Among the long list of different projects to choose from, I went with the string art. Starting from scratch, I sanded down the wooden board, mixed different colors to get the perfect tone I wanted, and began to meticulously hammer in the nails one by one, outlining a cardinal. I then grabbed white string and started interlacing it between each nail until it turned into a silhouette of the cardinal on the burgundy-painted wood.
It may not seem much, but that is when I realized how captivating and relaxing arts and crafts were for me, especially wood-working. Couldn’t have been better timing; as a few days later, my girlfriend moved to a different country, indefinitely, and I was devastated. I did not know what to do with myself in my free time, and my stress and anxiety levels were at an all time high.
So, guess what I chose to do? I went to Home Depot and spent nearly $500 on drills, sanders, jigsaws, two-by-fours, plywood, paint, fasteners, brushes, everything I would need for wood-working. Starting off with another string art of a much larger scale, I then proceeded to make a shoe rack for my closet, a subwoofer box for my truck, a coffee table, then bookshelves, etc.
When working on arts and crafts like painting, drilling, sanding, cutting, I feel alive. I am creating something all by myself from scratch. It always keeps me distracted, which I found is what helps me cope with my stress. A lot of times I screw up; I cut too short, drill with the wrong bit, paint with too much water, and have to start all over again – but that is why I enjoy it so much and find it so peaceful, because when I start over, I am better than I was last time. Much like when I face obstacles in life, I trip and fall, but I get back up on my feet and try again now that I know what I did wrong.
Take Charge of Your Life
Moral of the story is that managing stress is all about taking charge of your lifestyle, emotions, thoughts, and the way you deal with problems. No matter how stressful your life gets, remember that there are steps you can take to relieve the pressure and regain control. You just need to figure out how.