Self care when managing stress, should never be mistaken for self indulgence. In a world where we’re constantly consuming and over complicating self care, sometimes it’s best to get back to basics. In part 2 of her blog series, Founder of Keep Real, Kimberley shares three simple, yet creative ways to manage stress in the every day.

Art Therapy

Exploring your thoughts and feelings through collaging, can be really beneficial to understanding where stress may be coming from in your subconscious.

Not only is it an all inclusive mindful exercise, it allows us to gently explore complex emotions like sadness or anger, which sometimes can’t be easily expressed verbally. Plus, you don’t have to be an artist or creative type to take part in this method of managing stress – so it’s great for anyone.

Try This

Gather some old magazines/newspapers, an A4 or A3 sheet of paper (the bigger, the better!), and a glue stick. Give yourself around 10-15 minutes for this exercise. Allow yourself to focus on the paper in front of you, or perhaps close your eyes for a few moments before you begin.

Set a timer on your phone for two minutes, and start flipping through the magazines as fast as you can. If you see any images or text that jump out at you, or catches your eye – rip it and stick it down on the paper. Try not to think about the placement too much, give yourself permission to be as messy as possible.

Once the timer has ended, take a look closely at the sheet in front of you. What colours have you used? What images or words are on the paper? Do they reflect any thoughts or feelings going on for you at the moment?

Many people who do this exercise find this a positive way on reflecting on how they feel, where they can look at their mental state in a visual way. You can also do this exercise with someone you feel you can trust, and explore this method of stress management together.


Token Focus

Emotional symptoms of stress can be highlighted through feeling overwhelmed, where we can’t gather our thoughts logically. There are certain methods of self-soothing we can look at when dealing with stress. Allowing yourself to have a sensory focus is something that can be beneficial, rather than listening to your internal monologue.

For example, many individuals who struggle with anxiety have a ‘token’ that allows their focus to be something positive and sensory. These can be objects that are personal to the person, or something that fits in their pocket! It can be a stress ball, keyring, even a penny. Anything that will allow you to shift your thoughts to an object that you can feel/touch.

Free-flow writing

 Free-flow writing opens up conscious thought as well as unconscious; supporting in the understanding of the self.

When stress becomes something that takes over our emotions, it creates barriers to problem solving, and reducing the productivity in your work. Although free-flow writing is a method that increases the flow of ideas and solutions to problems, with many creatives using this tool in the everyday, it is also a way of breaking down how we feel in a way that is supportive and manageable.

Try This

The most cathartic way of doing this exercise is through writing. You can do this on your laptop, or phone as a quick five minute method; however, I find that writing things down by hand feels much more receptive to individuals who take part in this activity.

Put five minutes on a timer, and start a sentence with ‘I am feeling…’ or ‘Lately I have been…’. However you want to begin, is entirely up to you, and for your eyes only. Keep going until your timer has stopped, even if the words/sentences you write don’t make sense! Once your timer has stopped, take a moment to reflect on what you have written. It’s a great way of recognising how you feel, and something that can make people feel a sense of relief when it comes to managing stress.

Keep Real presents Heading Out – an evening of live music, stalls and more, all to help support better mental health for young people in Leeds. Get your tickets here.