Everyone faces stress, it’s part of life. Think of it as the natural function of your brain and body responding to challenge. Though stress gets a bad rep it isn’t always a negative, it can be a catalyst for motivation, positive change, growth, and can even trigger survival responses in times of danger. It's chronic stress that becomes problematic. Defined as a consistent sense of feeling pressured and overwhelmed over a long period of time, chronic stress will negatively impact your health. The trick is learning how to manage stress and identifying it before it becomes chronic. Here is a simple tool kit that you can use to help bring stress levels down.
Make your physical health a priority. Exercise, eat well, take your vitamins, get better sleep. It sounds like a no-brainer but studies show the first thing to go during times of stress are these daily wellness actions. We stress-eat, stay up later, indulge in harmful habits like binge drinking and smoking. What we reflexively turn to in times of stress is that which ends up inducing more stress. When you feel stress coming on check your behaviour.
You time. Not for your best friend, partner, family etc., just YOU. This is so key when time is finite and demands are infinite. Be it reading, taking a walk, engaging in a hobby- whatever it is, make it a priority. We all want a good “lifestyle” right? Remember that you are the creator of your reality, and the only one who can design the life you want. By making time to care for yourself, you will be in a better position to manage whatever stressors life throws at you next.
Unplugging. Poor stress management is intrinsically tied to screen time. Be it social media, blogs, the news, podcasts, or the constant barrage of emails demanding near immediate responses. All of these are huge stressors on the parasympathetic nervous system. Poor sleep, high blood pressure and depressive symptoms are a just a few of the side-affects that accompany unmanaged screen time. The modern world demands the use of screens so it falls on us to set boundaries and manage consumption.
Realistic goal setting. Goals are heavily tied to stress because of the pressure we put on ourselves. We’re all guilty of writing that ambitious list of what we need to accomplish in order to feel good about our growth/ progress/ current state or place. Our advice is to break your big picture goals into manageable bites. It’s not about scaling back in your dreams it’s about understanding the progress is made one step at a time. Added bonus? Less pain and self-punishment make the journey more enjoyable.
Knowing when to get help. Our state of mind is central to our health and can be heavily impacted by stress. Don’t overlook it, if you need help let go of any shame and ask for it. A little extra guidance is sometimes all it takes and if you need more extensive treatment, the earlier you identify it the better. If you’ve reached a point where you feel you can’t manage or cope speak up, you are the only one who will know when things are too much to handle.