De-stressing with Bente (#17)


Learning to relax again: how do you manage to do that? Bente (23) is a freelance journalist and works as an online editor at Flow. Having experienced a near-burn-out, she’s finding her way to a life with less stress. And every Friday, she takes us with her on her journey to get there.

“I feel calm,” I say to myself gently. “Very calm.” I’m lying on the floor in my living room and trying to relax. I repeat this sentence every session, but today it doesn’t seem to be working. Because I do not feel calm at all. My thoughts are racing in all directions and I’ve already had three small panic attacks. In the museum, while shopping and while I was on the couch.

After so many sessions with my therapist, however, I now know what I need to do: Relax and, more specifically, do not analyze. But my mind doesn’t seem to have got that memo. Instead, it seems to want to play detective: trying to find out where that sense of unease is coming from and how it can be removed as quickly as possible. I call it panicking about panic.


The thoughts keep coming while I try to relax. I end up putting my book aside because I have to read the sentences over and over, and when I go for a walk, I don’t even know which direction I want to head in. And when I accidentally spread mayonnaise on my bread instead of butter (believe me: not a good combination with chocolate sprinkles), it’s the final straw. Time for a good old howl.

Then I put my favorite series on and I accept that my head is a big mess. That the thoughts, worries and to-do lists will not disappear today. I accept that I will not know the reason why I feel the way I do at this moment, and I am not going to worry about it either. It is as it is, and it comes as it comes. Basta.

It works. After two days full of activities that make me happy, I feel great again. The panic has subsided, and my mind feels clear again. “I feel calm,” I say again during my daily session. And this time I really do. I didn’t even have to strive for it.

  • Bente’s other blogs can be found here.