It’s amazing to me how much our thought process and minds rule over our bodies. I don’t think anyone can disagree that stress has a negative impact on our bodies.
Our bodies respond to stress in various ways – headaches, digestive issues, insomnia, high blood pressure, weight gain, physical pain…you name it. Have these issues long enough on a continuous basis and is it any wonder we have so much disease plaguing this country? It’s this constant fight or flight state within the body that knocks years off our lives.
Take a moment to think about your life on a day-to-day basis. Do you experience any of the above as a byproduct of stress?
Personally, I experience anxiety, digestive issues, and irritability when stressed. And that’s only what I can recognize on the surface – who knows what is happening on a cellular level!
So the question then is – what do we do about it? Stress isn’t going anywhere; it is a part of our culture – a reoccurring part of life.
The only way to keep stress from wreaking havoc on our bodies is to learn how to recognize stressors in advance then manage it in a proactive way.
So, what does that look like and how do we get a grip on stress before it grips us?
Four Steps to Keeping Your Ship (i.e. yourself) Afloat
- Stop. Take a look at your week ahead and identify future possible stressors or situations that you know will cause your stress level to increase.
- Analyze. Ask yourself questions in order to help you work through why these future situations/stressors cause you stress. Is there any way to avoid these stressors? What can be done in order to reduce the impact of these stressors? Are you sweating the small stuff? Are these stressful situations beyond your control? Often, situations that stress me out are a result of my own doing – adding too much on my plate at one time, trying to be everything to everyone, etc..
- Identify. By looking at each stressor one by one and analyzing your role in the situation it helps to see the situation in a different perspective and take a proactive approach. Are you choosing to add tasks/meetings/to-dos to your plate that can be directed to someone else but because of your personal feelings of needing control it’s difficult to let go of certain things? Do you find yourself saying “yes” when you really would rather say “no?”
- Take a timeout. There have been several occasions, over the years, where I’ve removed myself from my own home, in an effort to decompress before I said or did something I knew I would later regret. Sometimes, us adults require a time-out, too – we just need to shake it off. Isn’t that better than forever leaving a bruise on the hearts of those we love or care about? I have always found that when I start my day for me, it sets the tone for the rest of the day. I feel less frazzled, more organized, and mentally prepared to tackle what’s next. Also, when you shift your mind to something you enjoy, by the time you come back to the thing that was causing you stress, often, the very thing we were stressed about doesn’t seem so bad after all. Feeling all the tension build? Go take a 5-minute walk outside. Do 20 jumping jacks. Move your body, side-track your mind with something that requires focus like a word puzzle or trivia game, meditate 5 minutes, or put on a jamming song and dance it out. Seriously…this stuff works.
So, there – you have a few ideas that you can bring to this new week. Take a look at the week ahead and shift, modify, tweak, or rise even 30 minutes earlier (going to bed 15 minutes earlier the night before) to make each day just that less stressful.
Your challenge this week is to take baby steps towards filling your soul cup – not your ship.
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