Keep Calm and Carry On: Tips to Managing Stress

 

You’re too busy read this article. You’ve got deadlines, places to go, people to see and care for, and a job you must go to. You may not even have time to think about how stress is seeping into your day, affecting your relationships, or keeping you up at night.  The quest to find a healthy balance between competing priorities is a constant battle. However, stress management is substantially more likely if you are able to recognize the signs of too much stress in your life and managing your time effectively.

 

The Mind-Body Connection

Hey, a little stress is good in our life. After all, pressure is motivating and enables us to meet demands and succeed in our endeavors. On the other hand, too much stress can wear us down, make us ill, and cause us to fall behind.  Too much stress, whether external (such as a deadline) or internal (such as negative thoughts) can wear away at our bodies making us more prone to illness as well as our minds by affecting our mood and concentration.

 

How Do I Know I’m Too Stressed?

It’s not a crazy question to ask yourself if you are too stressed, because life is often compartmentalized and divided into tasks. We often don’t take the time to give ourselves a once over and check to see how we are doing overall in LIFE. Here’s a quick checklist of questions you can ask yourself:

 

Cognitively:

□ Am I having trouble completing my work on time?

□ Am I missing work because I find it too stressful?

□ Am I having trouble concentrating?

Physically:

□ Do I have more stomach aches?

□ Do I have more headaches than usual?

□ Am I having trouble sleeping at night? Or sleeping too much?

□ Am I eating properly? Am I drinking too much caffeine (i.e. coffee, energy drinks)?

□ Am I getting enough exercise? Am I moving enough during the day?

Emotionally:

□ Do I feel worried all the time?

□ Am I feeling angry or agitated often?

□ Am I feeling sad or down about myself or my life?

□ Do my friends and family say I seem upset?

Stress Reduction Tips:

While stress cannot be eliminated, it can be managed more successfully. Here are some tips on keeping a handle on stress from spiraling out of control:

Cognitively: Manage your time effectively

  •   Set yourself a daily schedule with achievable goals. A to-do list that is too long will not get done.
  • You can overcome procrastination! Even if it takes some more built-in leisure time.
  •   Build in real breaks! Get up, walk around, call a friend, cook something good for you.
  •   Get yourself places you need to go! The more you fall behind the more stressed out you will be.
  •   Build in time to get to places you need to go
  •   Spend time with friends or coworkers that are good at focusing and can keep you on task.

Physical

  • Eat regular meals. Schedule them in if you need to and make sure they are good fuel for your mind and body.
  •   SLEEP
  • Plan on going to bed at a reasonable hour and build in a half hour of ‘downtime’ such as reading before bed
  •   Move. Get some exercise doing something you enjoy
  •   Avoid foods and drinks that will not help you feel your best. Ease up on the caffeine, there is only so much it contributes to feeling alert…after that, you’ll just feel agitated.

Emotional

  •   Stop negative thinking before it begins. Telling yourself you’ll never be able to achieve your goals is one way to fail before you even start. Take a small piece of your goal and set a completion time.
  •   Talk to a good listener. Sometimes we just want to vent. You’re good set of ears may be a family member, a friend, or a therapist.
  •   Deep breathing exercises found here (https://www.healthlinkbc.ca/health-topics/uz2255) are a good technique to practice daily.
  •  Music that is calming used together with guided imagery (thinking about a relaxing place or relaxing images) can help calm your breathing and your racing thoughts
  •   Getting outside to breath fresh air sounds simple, but it helps to get grounded in the here and now. This moment is a moment that will pass.

 

References

HealthLinkBC (n.d.). Stress management: breathing exercises for relaxation. Retrieved from: https://www.healthlinkbc.ca/health-topics/uz2255

National Institute of Health (2008). Emotions and health. Retrieved from: https://medlineplus.gov/magazine/issues/winter08/articles/winter08pg4.html