Being stressed is not part of a healthy lifestyle. Not only is stress damaging to us physically, it can also cause us to eat more and exercise less. Stress can be a huge obstacle that gets in the way of our healthy lifestyle goals. What can you do to effectively manage your stress? The following six steps will help you to make changes to have less stress and more happiness in your life.
1. Be aware of what stresses you and how you react to stress.
Learn to understand what situations; events, circumstances and people cause you to feel negative stress. Think about what message your brain is telling you about why you feel stressed. Notice the physical reactions you have, a racing heart, and shortness of breath, tight muscles or feeling angry and upset.
2. Think about the changes you can make.
Is there a way you can set up a structure to reduce or eliminate the stress by being more organised or managing you time better. Can you avoid or eliminate any of the things that cause you negative stress? Can you reduce your exposure to stress by taking a break away from the situation?
3. Better manage your emotional reaction to stress.
Different things cause different people stress. You may find public speaking extremely stressful but others thrive on this type of challenge. Having too many deadlines may leave you tearing your hair out but may make someone else feel completely organised and less stressed. We feel stressed because of how we personally perceive the situation. Are you stressed because you view things are critical or urgent when that may not be the case? Are you feeling pressure because you are a perfectionist? Try and be more moderate in your view and put the situation into perspective. Get someone else’s perspective on the situation and compare with your own. Are you being over dramatic?
4. Better manage your physical reaction to stress.
Learn relaxation and deep breathing techniques that will slow down your racing heart, improve your breathing and relax those tense muscles. Learn to smile and laugh more. It’s hard to be angry and stressed while you’re laughing.
5. Look after your emotional needs.
Don’t live up to other expectations, as these will not be in alignment with your own needs and values. Hang around upbuilding and supportive friends or co-workers. Find someone to share your concerns with. Also learn to ask for and accept help.
6. Look after your physical health.
Being in good physical shape in itself reduces stress. Be physically active everyday. Eat well, don’t smoke or drink excessively. Get enough sleep and regularly take time out to do things you enjoy.
This week look at what is causing you stress and then work at applying the appropriate steps in this article. Be realistic and make changes slowly. Above all, don’t worry be happy!