Being an adult is hard! There are days where I feel overwhelmed and too tired to get anything done. After battling chronic fatigue after an illness, I struggle to listen to my body and rest and know when to push through and make the most out of my day. I hear all too often, how hard life is, or how tired someone is, or if one more thing happens in their life they won’t know what to do.
I think we can all relate, managing stress is a constant struggle! We were never taught how to manage stress, and for those of us who grew up with moms that did literally EVERYTHING for us, it is difficult to learn that dynamic isn’t the healthiest. Stress lowers immune function, raises blood pressure, can cause ulcers and digestive issues, effects sleep and can cause anxiety and panic attacks. The list goes on and on…
Ever find yourself saying to yourself, “when it rains, it pours”? Juggling the many facets that make up our life and daily routine, sprinkled with putting out the fires of unexpected chaos can wreak havoc on our mental and physical health!
We are told at an early age to create an evacuation plan in case of a fire, to make a contact list for emergencies, to have a plan where to meet in case someone gets lost. So why is it that we don’t have our own plan for when stress gets so intense and we’re on the brink of a melt down?
Ever lose your temper for the silliest thing? Ever curse in front of the kids and drop F bombs at the guy that pissed you off on the highway? Have you ever screamed at the person on the other end of the phone because your order got screwed up? I have! These are all little whispers from the universe, to let us know that we are overwhelmed and we need to chillax!
Do we ever listen?…NO!
Well let’s not wait till the next time you lose your cool. Let’s create a strategy of 10 things you can do when you feel stressed. Put this list in your cell phone to recall in this emergency stress situation. Often times we can’t think clearly in the midst of a stressful situation, so that’s why this is important! Create a list that is catered to you and your life. These are just ideas to get you started.
One last note…stress is not something that affects “weak” people. Stress is everywhere and everyone feels it! Find some solace that it will pass and better days are ahead. In the thick of it though, these 10 methods are a good way to stop the damaging effects stress has on our mental and physical health.
Breathe in for 4 seconds, hold your breath for 7 seconds, & exhale for 8 seconds. Repeat once or twice more.
This exercise will cause an autonomic nervous system shift from the panic (fight or flight reaction) to a parasympathetic response (calming the body down).
Play Music – Music can be very therapeutic and can change your focus and trigger happy memories and thoughts. I particularly like to listen to meditation music with nature or tranquil sounds, soft classical music, or modern club music.
My favorite Pandora stations are Parra for Cuva Radio, The Piano Guys Radio, & Titanium Radio. I learned this method in design school, where my professor would play soft classical music while we worked. It stimulates part of the brain to gain better focus and promote creativity.
Go For A Walk – This list is in no particular order, but if it was, this would be number 1 for me! I fortunately live in South Florida, so walking outside is pretty available in any given season. Fresh air, birds chirping, the sounds of life happening all around us can be very energizing.
Stressful situations can feel very isolating and can create tunnel vision of negativity. Getting outside and feeling alive and moving can be really wonderful to relieve stress. Any form of exercise can work to do so but it is the carving out “you” time and getting your endorphins going that really does wonders!
Laugh! – A stressful time in your life is the perfect opportunity to call up that friend that you have that always makes you laugh. Pull up a You Tube video of your favorite comedian, have a tickle fight with one of your kids, play one of the comedy channels on your satellite radio on the way home from work.
Laughing is the best medicine and can immediately trigger happy thoughts! It also breaks that tension we often feel when we are totally consumed by stress. It can put things into perspective!
Read – Lose yourself in a good book! I keep several books near my bed for when I am restless and need to chill out. I also have stacks of design magazines for when I just want to look at pretty things and feel inspired. Whatever type of book you are into, have a book available, even if you don’t have lots of time to read. A few pages here and there is enough to give yourself time dedicated to you. Reading can be very relaxing and it’s also a great way to learn about a topic of interest or escape from the monotony of life! Guess that’s why 50 Shades of Grey was so popular! 🙂
Make A To-Do List – If you are feeling frazzled and overwhelmed, chances are that you are trying to remember everything and are clouded with running thoughts on what to do, when to do it, and the countless tasks that have to get done. Taking a few minutes to make a list and prioritize what needs to be done short-term and long-term will help calm your monkey brain.
(Monkey Brain = jumping thoughts, restlessness, inner chatter, excessive multi-tasking) Having this list will reassure you that you won’t forget something and can help you release some of these thoughts running in your head.
Make A Positive Affirmation – If you are a person of faith, this is a good to incorporate prayer or scripture into your day. There are also wonderful blogs that send you daily affirmations right to your email or you can get yourself a page a day calendar of affirmations to start your day off in a positive way!
Ask For Help / Delegate / Say No – This is a critical and a necessary step in managing stress! Even for single parents or those of us who have the desire to help everyone and be that go to person. Get comfortable asking people in your network of support for help when you are overwhelmed. People who care about you want to help so give them an opportunity to do so.
Be flexible enough in your life to delegate and let go of having to control every thing and everybody. That means voicing your needs and allowing others to do things in their own way. Delegating can be tricky, this doesn’t mean to micro-manage but trusting the abilities of others and letting people help you.
Lastly, learning how to say no and set boundaries if you have too much on your plate is not only good for you but good for the other person. If you commit to doing something when your heart is not in it and you don’t have the time, energy, or money to do so is a dis-service to the other person.
Come up with a few ways to turn people down nicely so you don’t get caught off guard. When you are prepared, it will be easier to not say yes and then have to back out of it later. Find some examples here.
Eat Healthy – When you are nutritionally balanced, are fueling your body and mind properly, and maintaining an even blood sugar level, you are going to be at optimal health to combat the damaging effects of stress. You are going to maintain better energy to get things done, and you are going to have a strong immune system to avoid getting sick.
Prioritize – In a recent post, I about prioritizing and learning how to create harmony in your daily life. Under stressful times in your life, shifting priorities is a must. Taking some dedicated time to re-strategize and create a game change will make you feel at peace, leaving you to feel more empowered.
I’m going to sign off with one last thought. This list is your list, when you feel stress or anticipate a hectic time in your life, use this list as a working plan to prevent stress. Do one thing off the list or as many as necessary. The whole intent here is to give yourself the necessary tools so you go through life with confidence that you can handle life when it gets a bit crazy.