Do you wake up, curse on the alarm clock, hit snooze, and 3 times after you’ve hit the snooze button finally find it within you to finally get up? Do you drag yourself half asleep to the toilet, wash up and get dressed ? If you are a female good luck; you will have probably changed 3 times already. Do you make your way to the kitchen -which is probably messed up cause… who has the power to clean the dishes from the day before?- and swallow a coffee as fast as you can because and before you know it, it’s already time to go to work…? AGAIN…?! And you cannot even remember where the stupid keys are! AGAIN! This sadly happens to most of us on most days -if you are living alone! Can you imagine living with more than you? Already CHAOS, PANIC, STRESS rule and take over your body!
It is a fact: Most of us go to work ALREADY stressed! Now, we also have our work, our customers, AND our bosses to worry about it ON TOP! Oh, man…!
I can honestly say that the first time at work I felt stressed was my first day at work. Or should I say first week? Or was it more? To be fair, it was a mixture of feelings, most frequently switching from excitement to fear, to stress, to being proud. So I decided I needed to put an end to the negative stuff, especially stress. I dug deep into my notes from the past and found some answers. Before writing this article, I dug a little deeper for us, just to keep us up-to-date 🙂
I cannot STRESS enough how STRESS can kill you. So I hope you and I find these stress management strategies helpful. Please remember, just because it is working for me or others, does not mean it works for you. The list is quite long -options, options ;)- but even if you apply 1/10 of it, you will probably have better chances of limiting the effects of stress -especially chronic stress- than others. Just experiment with a technique for some time -if you are open to it- and see if it is sincerely for you or not.
I. What can I do to release stress in the moment?
1. Learn the physiological signs of stress and acknowledge how your body reacts to it. Do not ignore the signs, i.e. sweaty palms, increased heart rate, neck stiffness, upset stomach..
2. Think of the stressor as an opportunity to grow and move on, rather than something negative. Shift your way of thinking and use the rush you get to focus undeniably to the task in hand.
3. Say over and over: “I got this! Done it before, can handle, time to crush it baby!” Believe me when I say, positive thinking will get you a long way! 🙂
4. Activate your yang, your parasympathetic nervous system (PNS) that is. The PNS has the ability to calm down the sympathetic nervous system (SNS), which is eventually responsible for the adrenaline rush. How to activate your PNS? A simple on-the-spot technique is the “5x5x5 deep breathing“: breath deep through your heart, feel your abdominal muscles and your chest expanding and contracting, imagine your diaphragm moving up and down. 5 seconds inhale, 5 seconds exhale, for a total of 5 deep breaths.
5. Write down a to-do list, prioritise, strategise. Everything will be clearer and you will be able to focus in no time.
6. Talk to someone you trust, someone who can listen and can give advice. Talking things through will always pave the path for a better understanding. It helps us to see the problem with a fresh eye and get to solutions faster. [PS: These kind of people are hard to find, so when you do, cherish them and show them how much you appreciate them]
7. Promote a calm aura, as if you are the Dalai Lama in the middle of a war zone. Relax your face, relax your shoulders, stand up straight, and keep your voice calm and reasonable. Why? Well, consider the last time someone talked to you in a distressed tone -for me it will always be the nurses… How did you react?
II. What can I do to relieve/release stress on the long run?
1. Take time to define on paper your code of conduct, your dreams and visions, your values and rules, your ideals, ultimate goals, and beliefs. Be honest and ask yourself these little treasures:
A. Where do I stand today?
B. Where do I want to get to?
If question C does not stir up some emotion inside of you, know it is not the right one. So, keep asking why and you will get there. Finally,
D. How do I get to B? What can I do differently?
Knowing your core self will help your focus and allow you to say no to stressful things that may not even be as important or urgent for you and where you want to be.
2. Practice mindfulness techiques purposefully, intentionally, with an open mind & heart.
– mindful breathing
– mindful STOP: STOP and smell the flowers 😉
– mindful daily routine
– mindful eating: smell, sight, sound, texture, taste, temperature
– mindful commuting
3. Pay attention to the positives, rather than the negatives: think of something or someone that makes you happy or puts a smile on your face.
4. Practice gratitude:
– Write “Thank you” notes
– Write gratitude letters
– Journal 3 times/week about 3 things you are grateful for. I have noticed that the smaller and the more unimportant something may seem to be, the more I am grateful for it.
5. Volunteer (do acts of kindness), give
6. Connect with others and empower your compassion: with people you love, with people you feel can teach you something new, with strangers.
– Guided imaging/visualisation through all our senses to get to our “Happy place”
8. Try destraction methods, i.e. cold showers (not a fan, lol)
9. Have a self-soothing, self-compassionate outlook on yourself: look at your mistakes with kindness, use constructive criticism with yourself rather than cold judgement, see the day as an opportunity for progress instead of perfection. Hug yourself.
10. Be proactive: Plan ahead, use prioritised action lists (what, where, when- even your recreation time!), use if-then statements (i.e. “If it is 20:00, then I will exercise”) and get excited about getting things done! Check out my first blog about planning here!
11. Count your little wins, give yourself a tap on the back,and celebrate your progress any way you feel like!
12. Spend time in nature, in green places.
13. Cherish & nurture your hobbies, recreation and leisure time. If possible do it away from work, and just play and have fun with others.
15. Self-reflect with the help of journaling
16. Use techniques like: Neural feedback or Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT)
17. Search and find a mentor or ask the help of a life coach
Appointment booked. I’m all set. Coach me!
18. Define your inspirations, role models and heroes according to what you want to improve on.
III. Last but not least, here are some lifestyle changes to consider:
–Nutrition: the what is just as significant as the how
The what: limit salt, sugar , “whites”, (i.e. bread, milk, sugar) & red meat, eat a “rainbow” of vegetables and fruits, go for healthier carbs & nuts, drink plenty of water.
The how: mindfully, without TV, enjoy and talk to others
– Exercise: 30 min/day moderate, aerobic exercise (which means not being able to talk with ease) & weight bearing (yoga, pilates, weight-lifting). Zumba® is a fantastic, fun way to tone, burn calories and most importantly have FUN! Check my Zumba instructor page! Check out when the next class takes place and make sure you share your love by clicking on the ♥ button!
– Sleep: 7-9 hrs/d is considered physiological.
Take care of your sleep hygiene, i.e. avoid exercise, alcohol, smoking, caffeine at least 2 hrs before going to bed. Control the sleeping environment, combat cognitive hyperactivity with breathing or meditation.
Now it’s up to you? How does your body, mind, health experience stress? What have you been doing so far? What is working, what not? What would work? Which practices, tools, ideas are you ready to give a go? Which others come to mind?