I have done a lot of work on myself when it comes to eating habits and exercise, I have even thrown in a large amount of effort in the time management department (it was the only way to squeeze in all the stuff I wanted to do). But to this day I still struggle with stress management. I mean I am getting much better at it, but as much as I would like to hope that one day I will just wake up and be a zen master to think I am one now is pretty unrealistic.
I have over time been able to realize my stress triggers and I am much more capable of realizing that I am stressed, however I haven’t really spent much time working at learning how to manage said stress. Although I seemingly haven’t done much to learn how to manage my stress levels I am very proud of myself for becoming more mindful and capable of realizing normal tiredness from times where I want to hide out because of stress.
I would say that since I last wrote about stress I have gotten much better at identifying my triggers and reactions, which is a great step in the right direction.
This all leads me to the question of “how do I manage all of this stress?” Like anything in the area of health and wellness it is very individual when it comes to how each of us deals with and manages our stress levels. Although it is different for each of us there are some hints or tips that all of us can test out until we find something that works for us.
- Watch something funny. Laughter is great for your whole body, it helps to relieve physical stress, while helping to release endorphins, boost your immune system and lower blood pressure and improves blood flow. Something as simple as your favorite funny movie can help you to relax from stressful situations and will help you to start feeling more relaxed in no time.
- SLEEP! For some reason this one keeps coming up over and over again, I guess it is pretty important. Some people when they become overly stressed might end up lacking sleep. It is important to allow your body a rest period each day so that it has the energy and strength needed to take on tomorrow. Be sure you are resting up and getting enough Zzzz’s.
- Spend some time with friends. Now we are all busy people with work obligations, exercise, family, home renovations etc. but sometimes all we need is some time with our friends. Spending time with a good friend gives you the chance to blow off some steam, laugh (see #1), and leave the rest of the world behind. Spending time with friends will provide you with the support and feeling of belonging that you need to help cultivate strength to overcome stressful situations.
- Acknowledge what upsets you and then move on. It is important to acknowledge what is upsetting you, whether that means writing it down or making a mental note, it is essential that you realize what is stressing you out. Without acknowledging what is stressing you out you can’t address the issue. Once it has been acknowledged create a plan of attack; Do you need to schedule more time for food prep so you don’t need to worry about it throughout the week? Do you need to enlist the help of others? Do you need to schedule yourself a bedtime? whatever it is you need to do to address the issue, make a plan of attack and then move on. Don’t dwell on your stresses.
- Meditate. Now this is one that I know is super beneficial but I myself have the HARDEST time with it. Which probably means I should be putting a bit more effort into it. There are various forms of mediation (seated, standing, walking, etc) and there are so many sources out there, such as podcasts and classes, to help walk you through the process. One thing my trainer told me that has helped me with my meditation practice is to do your best to keep your mind focused on one thing; an image, a memory, or a mantra. When your mind has wandering thoughts acknowledge them and then visualize plucking them out of your focal point to come back to once your meditation is done.
- Change something small. When feeling overwhelmed and stressed out it can sometimes help to change one small aspect of your routine. It is kind of like a miniature jump start for your brain helping it to focus on something other than your impending stress. This one small thing can be changing the route you walk to work, changing your running path, adding a different spice to your chicken for supper. What you change might seem insignificant but it might just be what you need to kick you out of a rut.
- Be grateful. Now I am not saying you aren’t, I am sure we are all grateful at one point or another, what I am suggesting here is to be consciously grateful. Take the time to go over your day and identify one thing that you are grateful for. It doesn’t have to be huge it could be that you are grateful for your bike ride home from work, your first cup of coffee or the sunny weather. Whatever it is, identify it and acknowledge why you are grateful for it. Mentally reviewing your day looking for the positive instead of the negative will overtime help you to focus on the good in life instead of dwelling on the bad.
- Exercise. Yes, exercise is a form of physical stress and yes it can add to your overall stress levels, but overall it is a great way to manage your stress levels. Exercise helps you to focus on something else while releasing those wonderful endorphins. The exercise you take part in doesn’t have to be an intense 10k run, it can be a nice peaceful yoga practice, just do what you can to get moving. Not only will it help to release some feel good endorphins but you will probably sleep better too because of it.
- Sharing is Caring. Sharing your kindness and helping others is a great way to relieve some stress, if only for allowing you to focus on others and not on your stresses for a second. The act of giving not only helps to make the giver and the receiver feel great, sharing your special talents and abilities helps to create a more positive community for all of us to live in.
- Clean up your fridge. What you are eating plays a huge role in how you are feeling. If you are fueling yourself with healthy, whole foods you are more likely to be happier and less stressed out. There are lists and lists of “stress reducing” foods on the internet and not a single one of those lists includes deep fried or high sugar anything. We get what we put in, if you are filling your gas tank with sugar it is likely your body won’t be as efficient if you had filled it with fresh green vegetables, whole grains, organic proteins, etc.
I hope these tips are something you are able to apply to your life when you are feeling a bit overwhelmed and stressed. I know that making sure I have a never ending supply of tasty healthy snacks and being sure to keep up my regular exercise routine helps to keep me feeling happy, positive and relatively stress free. So test them out and find out what works for you.
Happy Humpday everyone!
What do you do to manage your stress? Do you have any tips to share?