To say that this year has been rather stressful may be a little understatement! We have all had to learn to adapt to extraordinary situations from working from home, home-schooling, wearing masks and a whole host of other changes. So, before going any further, give yourself a pat on the back.
Some people are surprised to learn that some stress is good for us. I mean it’s a very natural and important part of our physiology and is there to keep us safe. For example, when we feel our life is in danger, the stress hormones are activated to alert us to either fight, freeze or retreat. The problem is that the body is not capable of differentiating between a real or perceived threat.
So whether you’d rather not look down from a multi-storey building, or you’re in a traffic jam and will be late for an important meeting, the chemical reaction is the same as that if we were under mortal threat.
Stress is one of those things in life that is inevitable and some of use are more affected by it than others. It’s very unhelpful for the body to be continually flooded with stress hormones and, fortunately, there are things we can do to manage it effectively and prevent it from taking over our lives completely and adversely affecting our health.
- ACCEPT THERE ARE THINGS YOU CAN’T CONTROL
Most stressful situations are created by events which are totally out of your control, and because of this, it really is a waste of time and energy to stress over them.
The specific demands of your daily life, including living through a pandemic, the traffic, the weather or the thoughts and actions of other people are all situations beyond your control. I’m not saying that these situations aren’t stressful, but with a little commitment to changing your mindset, by accepting and making the most of the situation, you will find that you become more aware of and much less stressed over things you can’t control.
I do a lot of driving and the roads are busier and busier, so I always have a talking book on the go, which certainly destresses me when I’m in a traffic jam.
- LEARN TO SAY “NO” AND ESTABLISH HEALTHY BOUNDARIES
This is a hard one for many people. But when you say ‘yes’ to everything asked of you, thereby spreading yourself thinner and thinner, you are much more likely to become overwhelmed and stressed.
Learning to say ‘no’ is a fabulous stress management technique. It doesn’t require any time, but I understand that if you are not used to saying ‘no’, it can feel really icky in the beginning, because you don’t want to come across as unhelpful. Again it’s another mindset shift to be conscious of.
There are lots of ways to say ‘no’ without coming across as unhelpful. Here are a few examples:
- I can’t do that right now, but …….(fill in when you could)
- This doesn’t work for me
- I’ve decided not to
- I’m not comfortable with that
- GET ORGANISED
I know this is sometimes easier said than done. But I really do believe that using a planner is a great stress management too! Getting organised and writing out your schedule and to do’s helps reduce stress and overwhelm by giving you a visual record of what exactly needs to get done.
It also relieves the stress of trying to remember a load of random tasks, and helps you see what your priorities are. Also as a very visual person, I also love striking off the list tasks I’ve achieved. It’s evidence that I’m making progress and gives me a boost.
Having a planner also lets me see what things I need to prioritise and, more importantly, those I should let go of. Get into the habit of looking at your planner every day to keep on track of what needs doing and avoid overwhelm.
You should also make time in your planner for you!
- REACH OUT FOR SUPPORT
We all need help at various times in our lives. Whether that’s the help of friends, family or outside agencies. Support is crucial for stress management, we cannot be all things to all people all of the time. Well, not without detrimental consequences.
As humans we thrive on connection with others and feeling accepted and understood. We thrive on helping people, but sometimes find it very difficult to ask for help for ourselves. Again, another mindset shift is required. Reach out to trusted family and friends for the support you need. If such support is not available, join a support group related to what you are experiencing or seek professional help from a therapist or coach.
Identify your support system and make sure you reach out to those people regularly.
- GET MOVING
Depending on what your typical day looks like, if you are sitting down all day without getting your body moving, you’re more likely to feel tired and lethargic which can add to stress.
Getting outside and/or moving and stretching can do wonders for mental and physical health, including reducing stress. So go out for a walk, if possible to the local park. Being in nature is a great stress buster, I admit I am a tree hugger. If it’s not practical to go outside every day, choose an exercise video on you tube, something for around 20-30 minutes to get yourself moving. There are so many to choose from I’m sure you will find something that you will enjoy.
Alternatively join a regular yoga/pilates/aerobics class. Personally (lockdown permitting) I love to go swimming as soon as the pool opens. It works for me, and it’s a time when I empty my mind, so it’s clear and ready for the day.
If you’d like more information, grab a cuppa and hop on a no-obligation call to find out how I can help and, more importantly, if I’m the right person for you.