Stress is such a big part of peoples lives today. We live in a more stressful world that makes it harder for us to slow down, to take time off and relax.
Today's business culture does not value these things. The focus is on getting results, achieving goals, being busy Doing, working harder and harder, leaving many people feeling exhausted and stressed.
As discussed in more detail in my previous blog ..... "Stress, the Good the Bad and the Ugly…. Which one do you have?"
I discussed in more detail, the 3 types of stress...
Good Stress which helps you focus, take action and helps you succeed in life. It may feel exciting and can ultimately improve your performance.
Bad Stress which is where too much ongoing stress can wear you down and make you sick, both mentally and physically.
Ugly Stress which is extremely dangerous and will most likely have infiltrated all areas of your life.
Now I want to focus on how to manage your stress...
Regardless of where you see yourself, in either “The Good,” “The Bad,” or “The Ugly,” there is help available.
From simple things that you can do yourself today, to getting professional help if you’re already in, “The Bad” and “The Ugly” category.
Getting professional help is what I highly recommend.
Talk to a friend or family member who is a good listener and who will understand you. If you can’t think of someone you know, talk to a counsellor, a therapist or your local GP. There is no shame in asking for help, and you are not alone.
When you talk through your problems, it can help you see clearly, and help you to come up with solutions.
Have you noticed how much better you feel when you share your problems with others?
Make sure you chose someone that you can trust to keep your confidentiality.
When a stress event hits you, learn to stop what you're doing, pause and focus on your breath. This helps you slow down your thoughts and connect with your body.
Take a few deep breaths. Breathe in for the count of 4, hold for 4 and then release for 4. As you breathe, still your mind by focusing on your breath.
After a couple of deep breaths, slowly move your focus to all areas of your body, starting with your toes and slowly working up through your body,until you reach the top of your head.
Observe any sensations that you feel in your body. Start with 2 mins and build up in 2 min increments.
Mindfulness is a kind of mediation, whereby you focus on the present, the Now.
Try practising mindfulness. As you go about your daily activities, give your close attention to what you’re doing.
Observe each action mindfully. Be totally present in whatever you're doing. For example, as you're preparing food, focus on the knife cutting through the vegetables.
When you're driving, feel the steering wheel under your hands, notice the colour of the cars around listen to the sound of the engine.
As you're getting dressed, feel the texture of the clothes as they move onto your body. Focus on your finger movement as you fasten each button or slide up the zip on your pants.
Take a walk-in nature or lift weights at the gym. Whatever exercise you choose, it will help release the happy endorphins such a Serotonin that the body and mind love.
If you're not used to exercising, start slowly and build up over time. Consult with your GP if you have concerns.
Find a buddy to exercise with, this will help with motivation.
Re hydration is good for the body and the mind, aim for at least 8 glasses of water a day, especially if you're exercising. Carry a water bottle when you go for a walk. Have a water bottle on your work desk and in your car.
Water is vital for our body. Almost 60% of the average adult body is water. We need it for our cells survival, for lubrication, for the transport of nutrients in our blood. It's needed for our brain to manufacture neurotransmitters and hormones.
Alcohol on the other hand dehydrates the body. It may feel good to have a glass of wine or beer when you’ve had a stressful day, however that one glass can become two or three. A hangover is not going to help.
When you get between 7 -9 hours’ sleep a night, your body and mind have time to rest and repair itself. There is merit in “Sleeping on it.” Sometimes problems are not so big in the morning, and you may even wake up with a solution.
Have you ever experienced that?...I definitely have.
If you get 'Sick Leave' with your employment, then use it; take some time off to relax and heal your body.
If you are your own boss, then give yourself the time off. Sleep in, have a massage, meet with a friend, go to the movies.
Be kind to yourself, you deserve it and your performance will improve after you have rested your body and mind.
Enjoy fresh fruit and vegetable, have a green smoothie for breakfast, salads and a variety of vegetables for lunch and dinner.
Avoid fast food takeaways and processed high sugar foods which will only make you feel tired.
You know that they’re not good for you, so why do you eat them?
Is it because of lack of time?
Is it a bad habit you've just got used to?
If you can identify why you choose unhealthy food options, then you can begin to make a change.
Try preparing your healthy lunch the night before and stock up on healthy snacks when you go shopping.
9. Do Something That You Enjoy
Get a massage, take a relaxing bath, watch a movie, hang out with friends and family. Book yourself “You Time” in your calendar as if it was an important meeting, because it is!
10. Practice Giving Gratitude For What You Have In Your Life
It’s hard to feel sorry for yourself when you’re being grateful. Take a few minutes each morning to write down the 3 things that you’re grateful for.
Repeat at the end of the day before you sleep. Do it for 7 days and nights and see the difference in how you feel. You will probably choose to continue to do it.... daily!
Most studies published around the topic of gratitude, support an association between gratitude and an individuals well being.
If you are struggling to manage your stress, please do not suffer in silence. Help is available and there is no shame asking for help.
Contact your GP or find a counsellor or therapist that you feel comfortable with, to support you though the tough times and into the light of a better, happier life.