Managing stress is important for everyone’s daily routine yet we usually fail to make time in our day to address it. When we don’t manage stress effectively it causes harm to our emotional, mental, and physical well being. One of the most alarming things about stress is that our bodies don’t differentiate between small stressors and big stressors. You could be fighting rush hour traffic, struggling to get the kids out the door in the morning, paying bills, or engaging in a heated argument and your body will react to each stressor the exact same way.
In today’s day and age we encounter small stressors in what seems like every moment of the day. This constant state of stress is known in the medical world as chronic stress. Chronic stress is becoming increasingly more common and can cause hypertension, sleep deprivation, and depression. It also wears down the immune system making the body more susceptible to infectious diseases.
While there are many ways to reduce stress here are a couple of my favorites:
- Set aside relaxation time. Seriously, this is non-negotiable! Even if it’s a quick 15 minutes to walk outside, get some fresh air, or make yourself a cup of tea it will help you temporarily disconnect and take a moment for yourself. Oh and don’t forget to leave your phone behind during your break.
- Breathe. It sounds so simple yet we take it for granted everyday. Stress increases the rate of breathing and also makes for quicker and shallower breaths that keep your brain and muscles from receiving the oxygen they so desperately need. If you find your shoulders are literally up to your ears, roll your shoulders back and slowly breathe in through your nose. Once your lungs are full slowly breathe out through your mouth. Think yoga breaths!
- Meditate. Oh how nice it would be to have some mental silence! You can meditate by sitting in a quiet and comfortable place, closing your eyes, and focusing on nothing but your breath. If you’re like me and you start to wonder if you turned off the coffee pot before you left this morning, try what I call a working meditation. Find something that doesn’t take a lot of thought (sweeping, sanding, polishing, painting, gardening, or whatever) and do that. Some people’s way of meditating is simply zoning out. It’s ok to zone out, and your brain will thank you for it.
- Stop trying to control the uncontrollable. So many things are beyond our control – the behavior of other people is a common one. Let it go and focus your efforts on the things you can control, like how you choose to react to a situation.
- Pare down your to-do list. I will admit I am guilty of creating lengthy to-do lists for myself and usually the first thing on my to-do list is to find my last to-do list. Instead of making a 30 item list for yourself and setting the unrealistic goal of getting it all done in one day, pick the three most important and pressing things that must get done. Doing so helps you feel more accomplished once they get done and if the thing on your list is a big project you are allowing enough time for yourself to get it done. The key here is to be realistic! And don’t put things on your list that you’ve already done just for the sake of marking them off – you know who you are!
These aren’t the only ways to manage stress. Please share some of your favorites with us and we will repost them on our Facebook and Twitter @onedaylifestyle
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