Ever feel stressed out? It happens to all of us. The first step of reducing stress is to recognize it. Think of a recent time that you felt really stressed. Heart racing, forehead wrinkled stressed.
Try This Now:
Ask yourself these questions about a stressful situation.Is it people, technology or something else that stresses me out? What is it about the situation that stresses me? Is what stresses me out within my control? What can I do to make the situation less stressful? Close your eyes. Breathe and think this all through. Pay attention to where in your body you feel the stress. Is your chest tight? Does your jaw clench? Hands ball into fists?If you had trouble coming up with something, put a reminder rubber band on your wrist to help you notice the next time you’re stressed.You can also put paper clips in one pocket and transfer them over to the other pocket every time you get stressed, to monitor the frequency of your daily stress. Awareness alone can reduce stress greatly.
When and why is Stress a Problem?
Stress triggers the release of cortisol (hormone), which signals many systems in your body. In small doses, this is beneficial to survive. As with many things, too much is harmful. Cortisol increases your pulse rate and blood pressure, affecting your heart. It impacts blood sugar and glucose levels, which affects fat storage. Cortisol increases anxiety, making it harder for you to concentrate and communicate. Sleep and immune function are also impacted negatively with too much cortisol release. You can’t always avoid external stress or control it’s source, but you can control other factors such as food, thoughts and exercise habits to better support your system when stress does come knocking.
Make one or two small changes to your habits this week, use this list for ideas.
- DO: Start your morning with ease. Sip warm tea, sit up in bed and breathe. Hold a yoga pose for 5 minutes. Put on music. The way you start your day sets the tone for it.
- DON’T: Hit snooze, read email, browse the internet, look at the news or get up with not enough time to get ready. It starts your day on the wrong foot.
- DO: Pause before you react to a stressful remark or conversation. Take a deep breath and ask a question before you respond. Or, ask for time to think about it and discuss later.
- DON’T: React to a stressful remark or conversation with the first thing that pops into your head. You may be thinking with the survival part of your brain, which is not always the most logical.
- DO: Take a mental break a few times a day. Close your eyes set a timer for five minutes and breathe. You’ll be amazed how much this helps you re-group.
- DON’T: Read the news, check social media or respond to email during break time. It’s another source of potential negative input that adds to the already busy work day.
- DO: Drink water, herbal tea or eat an apple when you’re feeling fatigued. Try this before you reach for the items listed in the next line.
- DON’T: Reach for caffeine or sugar when you’re stressed out. Caffeine increases your heart rate, making stressful situations seem worse. Sugar will comfort you for a little while and then cause you to be hungry and maybe anxious.
- DO: Exercise gently when you’re stressed. Even a 15-minute walk will be beneficial.
- DON’T: Over-do it with exercise when you’re stressed. Intense exercise can tax your body further, especially if your heart rate has already been elevated all day.