Coping with Stress
You’re running late, you have an overwhelming workload, you’re suffering under unrealistic expectations, feeling burnt out, exhausted, and on top of all of this, you are HANGRY. What does all of this lead to? Headaches, tension, restlessness, and a low sex drive, all of which are caused by stress. We’ve all been there. In fact, most of us are probably enduring some amount or form of stress this very moment. It is not uncommon. But how can we overcome this stress rather than letting it occupy every fiber of our being? It seems simple, but let’s face it, with only 24 hours in a day, life can sometimes have the upper hand on how you spend your time. The challenging part in all of this is taking time to prioritize and eliminate even the smallest of things that do not serve you in order to make time for yourself. Let’s look at a few of the ways that we can have power over the stress that can so easily tie us down to unwelcomed discomfort. Relax. Close your eyes and breathe. Find a way to pull yourself out of whatever environment is causing you to stress or causing you to think about the weighing pressures in your life. Perhaps turning down the lights and taking a bubble bath or hot shower with candles and essential oils sound relaxing to you. Or you may find a sunny day on a secluded beach listening to the repetitious calming sounds of the waves and feeling the warm breeze tingle on your skin. Maybe a float in a swimming pool. A walk in nature. A walk around the block. Simply shutting your eyes and breathing. Yes, this all requires time, which we all know there is never enough of. However, managing and organizing your time will allow you to phase out the things that are otherwise avoidable causes of stress. Put down the phone, pick up a book. Disconnecting from the world wide web and social media platforms will eliminate any distractions and unnecessary clutter in your head. In today’s culture, it feels obligatory to be plugged in at all times to some sort of technology. We scroll through other’s feeds, watch shows, download movies, check emails, etc. Somehow, we are almost always faced to screen in some way or another. Just for a while, put it away. Open a book to read, or a notebook to a journal, color or draw in. Engage your mind in activities that do not require you to focus on a screen. It may be unrealistic to say that this can be done over an extended period given that most of our work and social lives depend on technology, however, boundaries can be set to help limit the usage of your devices. At the end of the day, rather than staying connected and checking your emails after hours of mindlessly scrolling, put your phone away and immerse yourself into a good book or puzzle. Invest in you. It is so easy to resort to binge eating, drinking alcohol, or participating in other self-destructive behaviors when we feel stressed out. In fact, it is what a large majority turn to. But is this a long term beneficial resort? Absolutely not. These decisions will only increase and intensify the level of stress we feel once the temporary comfort of these substances or behaviors fade. Rather than turning to unhealthy habits, consciously decide to take time for self- care. This could include yoga, walking, running, swimming or any other form of exercise in addition to engaging in a healthy diet. You do not need to be a health nut in order to take interest in your body and mind. You simply have to set a little bit of time aside to look after yourself. The simple act of moving in whatever way you choose is scientifically proven to reduce the level of stress hormones in your brain. Who wants to argue with science? The bottom line is, stress is unavoidable. There is very little that we can do to prevent stress in our lives, otherwise there would never be any. What we can do is take measures to avoid letting stress get the best of us. Recognize your limitations. Accept what is in your control. Find the positive rather than the negatives in situations that you have no control over. Give yourself a break. Take the time to appreciate how much you do achieve and persevere. And lastly, don’t forget to prioritize your time in order to make room for habits that will actually benefit and serve you.