The 'S' Word
It's happening again, you're at your desk, driving your car, picking up the phone to call a client, or even an old friend. And, your mind is simply racing with thoughts of your to-do list, you didn't get enough sleep, your stomach is rumbling, and you're being bombarded with more tasks.
Stress | Definition: a state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or very demanding circumstances.
'Well...", you say to yourself, "sure, I'm stressed but the responsibilities and schedule aren't going anywhere."
We get it, really. You can't turn away from day-to-day workload, family care, and mundane tasks that come with, well, being an adult! Yet, there is a way to help manage it, while it does take some time to get accustomed to a new approach, we think it's worth it, and so should you.
Manage your stress:
• Recognize the feeling when it comes up. Sometimes we're on autopilot and that moment to check in with our bodies response to external situations is just not one we're willing to recognize. Now, when you feel your shoulders draw together, shortness of breath, headaches, or scattered thoughts you'll know it's time to pause.
• Take a deep breathe with your hand placed on your abdomen or chest. A simple motion like this allows you to center and slowly turn down the volume on mental chatter.
• Ask yourself if the situation is fully in your control. Is that comment a colleague made about a project or deadline something you can change? If the answer is 'no' then take a moment to process it, and then release it, even if it means telling yourself that you'll revisit the thought again later when you're feeling less stressed.
• Map out your day and allow yourself to feel good as you complete each task. It's important to make a to-do list because overwhelmed thoughts can cause a sense of chaos that may amplify your stress. Start small with errands, or work projects, and as the habit develops scale it to other areas of your life whether it be a gym schedule or a bedtime routine.
• Remember the fundamental elements that can improve your overall health, and consider how some bad habits are contributing to stress. Again, we want to focus on small victories like getting an extra hour of sleep, and packing a healthy lunch.
• Talk to a friend about the experiences you have, and ask how they manage stress. The simple act of sharing your emotion can help relieve some of the burden and strengthen bonds with those you love. Friendship and familial bonds may help boost oxytocin, serotonin, and dopamine in the brain. Ah, natural stress relief!