STRESS. Everyone has had it, felt it, been overwhelmed by it, failed at overcoming it, and have had it rule moments in their lives. High stress can lead to an array of health problems including obesity, heart disease, and depression. And just to add to the irony, when we worry about what our stressful lives are doing to our health, it makes us more stressed (my blood pressure is rising just writing these words). How do we stop this cycle?
The stress we feel in our daily lives springs from multiple factors. Stress can rise due to poor eating habits, environmental toxins, anxiety or worry, high pressure situations, our relationships with other people, our financial security and many other things. Due to this multi-front attack on our stress levels, we need to have a defense that is just as layered.
We need to be able to prevent, combat, and recover from stress to help us lead healthy and more manageable day-to-day lives. Below are suggestions of some easy things you can add in to help reduce your stress levels and avoid stressful situations in the future.
- Daily Calm – Spend at least 5 minutes each day in a calm and quiet state. This doesn’t have to be a full meditation session, just a few minutes for you to focus on your breathing, let you thoughts float in and out without reaction, and allow your heart rate and nervous system to settle down. This is just as important as brushing your teeth or getting a workout in.
- Eat Well – Poor food choices are going to lead to a crash and burn feeling in your mind and body. Nobody can stay calm in stressful situations if they are already fighting their bad mood. Keep blood sugars level, eat right, eat at consistent times, and keep yourself hydrated to avoid moodiness, headaches, and exhaustion.
- Set Yourself up for Success – If you look at the calendar for your week and you know it is going to be stressful, don’t drink a glass of wine, sit on the couch, and begin to worry and get apprehensive. Get your toosh up and set yourself up for success. Think about going into a stressful week the same way you would think about facing a strong opponent in a match. Prepare. Get whatever you can get done ahead of time, rest up and eat right (put the wine down) so your body and mind are strong. Go over the most challenging parts of your week and think about ways to de-stress those situations. The days and weeks are coming whether you are ready or not. Get prepared so you can be your best.
- Breathe – During a moment of high stress and anxiety, a couple breathes can go a long way. When you start to feel overwhelmed, stop, and take control of your nervous system by controlling your breathing. After a few moments, you will have more clarity and be able to approach the situation calmly.
- “Not Right Now” – Have a hard time saying “No”? This can lead you to feel out of control of your life. Even though we know we can’t do something or we don’t have time or don’t want to do something, we still feel the pressure to agree to do it. It is a mistake made over-and-over. If you have a hard time saying “No”, try the more friendly and polite version of “Not Right Now”. It will get you out of the things you know you shouldn’t be doing anyway in a subtle, cool, dare I say, charming way.
Recover from Stress
- Learn from your Reactions – If you are feeling bad about the way you handled the last stressful situation you were exposed to, take some time to review what happened and learn from it. What triggered you? Where was your head space? Was it the person, time of day, the fact you went out the night before? Try to find what caused you to move into a high-stress situation and take note of those triggers in the future.
- Active Relaxation – It sounds counter intuitive. Active and Relaxation? What I mean by this is be PROactive in your recovery from stress. Make sure there are gaps (big ones) in your busy schedule where you can give yourself some space to recover from stressful days, weeks, or events. Plan vacations, a nice dinner, or some time at the spa. Or just make sure you take whole days, or at least mornings, off from your stressful schedule. “Downtime” will not just appear, you need to make it happen.
- Be Grateful – Sometimes when we are caught up in the stress of life, we forget to look around and see how blessed we are to have so much abundance in our lives. Make sure to take the time to enjoy everything you get to do each day.