When we use the phrase, “I’m stressed,” it’s not a positive feeling we’re conveying. Stress is often a synonym for anxiety, worry, and fear about the future. Anxiety can become paralyzing. If the future is full of turmoil, how can we plan anything? Who wants to look ahead and dream when all you see is fear in the future?

The newness of the experience and the constant choices that must be made, make any home renovation a source of some added stress to life. If you’re facing that stress in addition to the current turmoil of the pandemic, your stress may be heightened to the point of feeling paralyzed.

If you’re feeling mentally paralyzed, it’s really hard to get into re-imagining your space since that takes your creative and logical self. It may make every choice feel like an unbearable effort instead of the fun chance to finally enact your dreams. Collaboration with your Pro can become strained, which in turn creates more stress!  

While stress and anxiety can feel disabling, if you turn to face them, they can also be motivating. “This sucks! I can’t live like this! How do I get off this ride?” While there is no perfect answer, it turns out people have been asking this question for a while. Here are some things that may help.

Self-Talk

First, pay attention to your inner voice, what psychologists call your “self-talk”. If your self-talk is harsh, judgemental, or plain mean, noticing that fact is your first step. All change is going to be more of a struggle if you have to argue an internal bully down every time you want to take a step. Instead, use as gentle and caring of an internal voice as possible, remember, you’re talking to someone who’s stressed, anxious and worried!

Have patience with yourself. Patience can be especially hard to give ourselves, but you are doing the best you can, and the more patience you give yourself, the more free you will be to do better. It’s hard to improve when a bully is breathing down your neck; be supportive of your own improvements.

If your goal is to move forward, and you’re offering yourself patience, remember that any size step will do. If you find yourself taking big strides, that’s great! But small shuffles are also forward motion. If you’re tempted to judge your progress, remind yourself, small steps are big enough.

The great thing about having patience and compassion for ourselves is that it almost magically increases our capacity to offer the same back to others. Your Pro is undoubtedly unusually stressed right now and they’re going to need some empathy too.

Helpful De-stressors

Here are some real, actual steps that can be taken to reduce stress. Pick a few that seem most attractive to you, or try different ones on different days. Remember to start small. Creating a stressful expectation of how you’re going to change your life all at once, is not one of the suggestions here.

Exercise

It doesn’t have to be a scary word. If you love yoga, dance, or something that requires skill, go for it, but if you walk up and down your street, your mind and body will still thank you.

Go Outside

There’s something about connecting with nature that can really be stress relieving. Whether it’s sitting on your patio watching the sun go down or being able to take a hike.

Practice Meditation

Meditation is really good for your mental health and there are different tools available now to get you started. You don’t have to be a guru to start practicing.

Turn off the News

If news is stressing you out, turn it off. Unless you have a very specific reason you have to stay connected, there is no moral obligation to stay in touch with everything wrong in the world. Give yourself a break to stay present for those who you are the world to: your family and those you interact with daily.

Practice Creativity

Creativity helps our minds enter into a state of flow, focused entirely on what we’re creating, lost in the moment. If you have a creative hobby, pull it out and call it therapy! If you think you don’t have a creative bone in you, create something badly and laugh hilariously at the result.

Engage Your Sense of Humor

Sometimes, the more serious something is, the more healing a good laugh is. Turn on a comedian, find ways to poke fun at your own worries, or just be silly for no reason.

Phone a Friend

You know who’s good to help you get in a laugh? A good friend. We need connection and today we have to be purposeful about creating it. Pick someone to facetime or call, whether you have a vulnerable conversation about how you’re feeling stuck in stress or a good laugh, you’ll both be better off. Solitary confinement is good for no one.

Learn About the Upsides of Stress

Psychologist Kelly McGonigal teaches in her TEDtalk that research shows stress can actually be beneficial if we know how to befriend it. There are some surprising up-sides to stress, and just knowing about them can make stress, well, less stressful.

Ask for Help

If every one of these suggestions feels more stressful than helpful, then it’s time to turn to professional help. Make an appointment with a counselor, psychologist, or psychiatrist, your mental health is worth taking care of.

Moving Forward

Regardless of what ends up working best for you, stress doesn’t have to dominate your life. You can move forward. With mutual support, you and your Pro will complete your renovation, and seeing your dream space come to life will definitely be worth it! Whether you’re moving towards a specific goal, or your goal is simply to move out of stress, remember that little steps are big enough.