Stress in our lives has become dominant over all other things for so many people in the world. It’s like it’s almost gotten to the point that it’s frowned upon to to take care of yourself and take a breather because it’s seen as either selfish, irresponsible, or lazy. When in all reality it is the OPPOSITE of those things.
At work, does your employer prevent you from getting away for a few minutes here and there to decompress or gather yourself? At home, do your kids stand underneath you constantly begging for this, that, or the other? Is your spouse always criticizing you or holding you to expectations higher than what you’re feasibly capable of achieving? Are your friends, church, or family always asking you for help? Is your income below where it needs to be or just barely getting by? All of these things – and more – contribute to high levels of stress that cause our bodies to do insanely crazy things.
Stress has a very strong connection to health. Unhealthy levels of stress release high amounts of hormones like cortisol, epinephrine, and adrenaline. These hormones trigger reactions like hormone imbalance, adrenal fatigue, chronic inflammation, and reduced immunity. Furthermore, constant and uninterrupted stress inhibits the body’s ability to regulate and control the release of these hormones which results in a constant state of hyper-vigilance, digestion is shut down to aid “fight or flight” response, and it can increase blood pressure over time.
The most common sources of stress work, family, and money. This is why it’s so incredibly important to take care of yourself, set boundaries, and communicate your needs to others. If we don’t manage our stress, burn out can run us down rendering us effectively useless to those who need us. Work-life balance can easily be tipped causing stress as boundaries blur. High demands at work and job insecurity also create unhealthy levels of continued stress. As for family, too much time away and too much time together can cause disagreements, feeling like others aren’t pulling their weight, etc. Divorce, and divided or blended families can add extra sources of stress. In addition, if you are a primary care-taker, sometimes the weight of constant servitude can be overwhelming if you never get a break. Then there’s money. When money is tight, so are tensions. Inability to provide for family or having to cut corners to make ends meet can be stressful and painful as it triggers fear for the future.
I know first-hand that these points are barely just the tip of the iceberg. Even if you feel like everything is good right now and you’re not currently experiencing stress from these particular things, I’d be willing to bet that you’ve felt stress from them in the past or that you will in the future. Am I right?
We all know that sources for stress can sometimes not be avoided. So what do we do when we can’t escape??
“The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another.”William Jones – Harvard University
Make a plan
When you have a plan for stress management, you are more equipped to take on the task when it comes. Stress starts in the brain. So does busting it.
For acute stress, let’s look at some key stress management tips to use quick.
Step 1: STOP
Acknowledging that you are responding to stress and identifying the source is critical.
When you are experiencing an encounter that suddenly makes your body tense, your head spin, your heart pump harder and faster, maybe even a lump in your throat and your emotions start swirling – just STOP.
If you’re sitting, stand up. If you’re standing, sit down. If you’re able – walk away. Make a clean temporary break from whatever it is that’s causing your stress response.
Step 2: BREATHE
Breathing actually sends a message to your brain to calm down and relax.
- Close your eyes, breathe deeply and slowly through your nose for about 5-7 seconds.
- Hold it. Focus on your breath.
- Release through your mouth for 8-10 seconds.
- Focusing the whole time only on your breath and nothing else. Repeat for about 3-5 breaths or as much as needed.
Step 3: EVALUATE
Take a look at what’s bringing you stress and decide if it’s something that’s worth stressing over. Is it something that you can control or is it beyond your control? Is there something that you can do to make the situation better? Will getting stressed be beneficial?
What if it’s something that’s within your control? What outcome would you like to see? What can you do differently that will bring that outcome? What if it’s beyond your control? What should you do? What will you do? Is it helpful to have negative and stressful thoughts?
Step 4: DECIDE
Make a decision about how you want to handle it. Knowing that you have the power over your thoughts and actions can give you power over your outcomes. Decide to be positive.
It takes a lot of practice to shift your mind and take control of your thoughts, but it is possible. You’ve heard the term “Mind over Matter?” – Every stressful situation CAN be approached with this mindset.
There are so many methods for stress management. When you engage in wellness coaching with Kairotic Moment Wellness, we focus on ways that you respond to the most. We create a plan and practice, so you are equipped to handle what comes your way.
For daily stress management, try some of these tips:
- Stay positive
- Recognize and accept that some things are simply beyond your control
- Be assertive instead of aggressive. Assert your feelings, opinions, or beliefs instead of becoming angry, defensive, or passive.
- Adopt and practice relaxation techniques (Meditation and Yoga)
- Exercise regularly
- Time management
- Learn to say no
- Make time for hobbies, interests, and relaxation
- Get enough sleep and rest
- Get proper nutrition
- Get help – Talk it out! Wellness coaching is a great outlet for this
- Consume stress-reducing foods and drinks
If you need help with stress management and would like to learn more about how to reset your body in response to stress, contact me for a free discovery session to find out if wellness coaching could benefit you!
What kind of ways do you practice stress management? What works for you? Please share!