As we’ve been talking about over these past few weeks, the silly season can be stressful for many reasons. So in this session we’re talking stress… what is it? What to do about it!
Basically, stress is not all that bad! Without a dose of it we wouldn’t accomplish things, or be motivated to meet deadlines. And, without it we wouldn’t get to feel that sense of achievement. We call this ‘healthy’ stress.
‘Unhealthy’ stress, is where you have way too many things on your plate and it becomes more like ‘anxiety’ or ‘overwhelm’. And, at this point there’s likely to be too much adrenalin in your system to relax and enjoy yourself.
What to do about it?
First, it’s about recognising when we’re stressed and knowing your stress levels. Many of us are surviving from day to day and don’t recognise the signs.
Here’s a list of some signs of unhealthy stress. Check-in with yourself regularly - are you experiencing any of these signs:
Inability to concentrate or complete tasks
Trouble falling and staying asleep
Changes in appetite
More angry or anxious than usual
Next, identify your stress levels using the 3 glasses.
Where are using sitting today?
If you’re glass on the low side – lucky you! You might have some spare time up your sleeve to add activities to your agenda. Or just enjoy this time of low stress!
If your glass is on the full-side (to the right), you’re probably feeling pretty stressed, leaving little room for enjoyment or anything else for yourself. It may be that you have too many errands and obligations. It could even be that you’ve had no personal space; or have financial pressures going on. There are many causes to heightened stress levels.
You would therefore benefit from…:
First, with prevention – start early! Don’t wait until you’re frazzled. Ensure you’re getting your medical check-ups and there’s no illnesses going on; getting regular exercise; avoiding over-consumption of alcohol; getting good regular sleep; eating 3 healthy and nutritious meals per day. This gives you a strong foundation to start from.
Get organised: Plan your days and put everything into a to-do list, calendar or diary. 9 times out of 10 it’s not until we see it all written down in a ‘to-do’ list, or in a calendar, that we realise it’s not as overwhelming as we had believed. If your days are too full, or if you’re not seeing any blank spots, you may want to create some!
Strike some tasks off your to-do list or delegate. Be ruthless!
Boundaries: in a nutshell: it’s about saying “no” when we need to, and “yes” when we need to. If we’re saying “yes” too often to too many people – we’re sure to feel stressed and overwhelmed. Practice enforcing a few “No’s”.
Schedule some ‘me’ time somewhere every 1-2 days. Even if it is a 30 minute walk around the block, or a long hot bath. We really need this as food for the soul.
Book yourself in for a counselling session to help clarify any concerns.
With stress relieving steps:
Breathing – slow controlled breaths throughout the day. Stop regularly and do 10 breaths – breathing deep down into the belly.
Laugh! Watch a comedy; or visit a friend who makes you laugh. Laughing reduces cortisol build-up in the brain (linked to anxiety) and releases natural happy hormones into the system.
Take some time to massage some soothing lavender oil or hand-cream on your hands.
Progressive muscle relaxation (PMR) exercise –for when you go to sleep: Progress slowly through each of the muscle groups in your body; tense them up individually – hold for 5 seconds; and release for 5 seconds etc. See: https://www.anxietybc.com/sites/default/files/MuscleRelaxation.pdf
What’s going to be your plan for the season?
(written for LWCHC. Shared with their permission)