So, have you ever wondered if managing stress is a real thing or just something we say?
How many times have you heard the doctor urge you to ‘decrease’ your stress? How many times do you roll your eyes behind his back as you leave and whisper under your breath, “Fat chance!” ?
It’s a good thought really. Stress can definitely wreak havoc with a once healthy body. It happens ever so slightly and before you even realize what is happening, until you are facing some major health issues.
Stress is really one of life’s little mysteries. What if handling stress wasn’t so much about taking things off our plate as much as it is, managing what isn’t leaving your plate, better? Obviously, getting rid of things is ideal, and sometimes easy to do. Most articles about handling stress start with adding good things to your life but a stressed person doesn’t want to add one more thing! So, let’s not do that just yet…
If you are at your wit’s end, before you say ‘Yes’ to the next thing that comes along, remember that ‘No’ can be a complete sentence. Just say ‘No.’ The magical thing about the word ‘no’ is that you really don’t need to supply an explanation or even a creative lie to justify the ‘no’. Many times, we don’t have a good reason for saying No, other than we just don’t want to or don’t have time. Whatever, it doesn’t matter. Now, let me warn you, the first time you try this, be prepared for some awkward silence. The person who receives the No is going to expect you to elaborate but stay strong. ‘No’ has gotten a bad rap and we think it is something negative and mean. It doesn’t have to be mean and ugly, it can be the best form of self care.
This is an important concept in managing stress because it begins setting boundaries for yourself and those around you.
Often, the stress we deal with came from just being a part of this thing we call life and we can’t wish it away and all the worry in the world isn’t going to change it. There is the key right there; worry. If you can’t change something, then worrying and fretting is only hurting yourself. Practice pausing for a minute to consider your perspective. If, after some careful thought, you find there are things you can do to change a situation, then take the appropriate steps to do so, otherwise, take a deep breath and move on.
When you feel stressed and the stress is managing you, take a look at your routines. Have you lost that feeling of rhythm and routine in your life? It’s the rhythms of life that keep us sane; like getting up and going to bed at the same time every day. Patterns we establish, help us feel in control and they are very important in maintaining a stressful life. If you find yourself craving routine, take a closer look at the patterns you keep for yourself and your family.
Breathing seems pointless when you are stressed and passive at that but there is great power in a deep, cleansing breath. Breathing is one of our natural body rhythms, keep it in check and breathe slow, deep and deliberate and close your eyes if you want. Imagine the stress leaving your body, as your shoulders fall back into place, instead of tucked up around your ears.
Finally, keep your perspective and watch your language. It’s easy to refer to our stressors with negativity and judgement. Saying things like, “This is a disaster” reiterates to our brain that something is big and bad…it’s not a disaster, for sure a disappointment but not a disaster. Be careful how you label things for good or for bad. Sometimes, you just never know what will become of a bad situation and sometimes framing it differently makes all the difference in an outcome or even a day.
Eliminating stress is an impossible task for most people and some stress is actually healthy! Though it may be hard, managing stress can be done and done well but it does require a little work on your part. Maybe, with a little practice, you can stop hearing your doctor go on and on about cutting back your stress!