Life can be complicated, intense and overwhelming. There is always a lot to do, making us feel stressed or unable to take care of ourselves. When we give in to stress, physically and emotionally we suffer and the people around us suffer. Not being able to relax and focus on giving ourselves "me time" means we can't take care of all we need to do for others and ourselves.
To break this vicious cycle, first recognize what is stressing you out. Is it work? Is it family? Is it juggling family activities? Is it following social media? Take a few minutes to actually write it down. Defining the core activities creating stress in your life is an important step. By defining the stress, it will lead you to learning how to change it. You may be wondering how to identify what is causing stress in your life. Here are a few tips from Huff Post:
LISTEN TO YOUR BODY
When we get stressed, there are physical signs that our bodies give us, we just have to listen. Is your heart racing? Is it difficult to breathe? Are you sweating? Are you not hungry? Or are you hungry? I know when I get stressed, I eat! If you can recognize the physical effects of stress as they are happening, it will lead you to finding out what exactly it is that is causing the stress.
LISTEN TO HOW YOU TALK
When we start lashing out that someone is a pain in the neck or we start describing to someone how we are feeling right then, this will lead you to figure out what is stressing you out. When we talk this way, we are identifying what is stressing ourselves out. Write that down to narrow your focus on the stress trigger.
Once you identify the triggers, creating an action plan of simple habits will be life changing. No matter what your trigger is, the below will help you overcome stress and enhance your life. A lot of times when we want to make lifestyle changes, we take on too many changes at once. This makes it impossible to truly affect our routine with positive changes.
Too many changes all at once is very hard to follow. This leads us to feeling like a failure when we can't maintain the changes we are trying to make. After reading the below, select only one to integrate into your routine. After a couple of weeks, try another one. By slowing taking actions they will become part of your life and you won't even realize what life was like before making the change.
ONLY HAVE 3 TO-DO's PER DAY
This is a really scary one! Especially if you are a planner or list maker like myself. I tend to have 30 things I plan to get done but never get them all done. I've realized that by making such a long list of tasks, that I am self-sabotaging. I'll never get it all done which makes me stressed. Instead, make the to-do list only 3 very important things to achieve that day. By changing how we view our to-do list, it lifts stress off of us. The best part is when you get those 3 things done and you get #4 and #5 done as a bonus!
ASK FOR HELP
This is very tough for me. I feel I need to get it all done and no one can help me get it done. Why? Because they won't get it done like I do it. I have to remind myself that we all have our own way of doing things. Just because it isn't how I would do it, doesn't mean it is wrong. It has been years since I have been practicing to ask for help. It is such a great feeling when I ask for help and the task gets done.
LET GO OF THE THINGS YOU CANNOT CONTROL
When I tell people I do not get upset over the things I cannot control, it is enlightening for them. I learned a long time ago that the only thing I can control is myself. Other people will react how they will react. That is about them, not me. Going into a stressful situation, I think about my role, experience and what information I can bring. I am usually not the final decision maker so I make sure I am open to different perspectives. Next time you start getting stressed over something, think about if you have control to change the situation. If you do not, then let it go.
The fastest way to calm down is to take a deep breath. Breath in deeply for a 4 count through the nose, then slowly let it out through the nose for a count of 4-6. Do this 2-3 times and you should be able to calm down. Don't be worried if people can hear you. I tend to do this breathing technique in meetings all the time. After the people, meeting may tell me they noticed I was breathing deep. I simply tell them it is my way to stay focused in the meeting. No need to be embarrassed. If you are, find a spot where you can be alone for just a couple of minutes.
Laughter is the best medicine! Laughing releases endorphins which counteracts the draining effects of stress. When we are children, we laugh a lot more. On average, children laugh 400 times a day, while adults laugh 15 times a day. (Source: The Power of Laughter) When you feel stressed, overwhelmed or can't focus, find a funny Video and watch it. Something that will make you laugh. Taking just a few minutes to laugh gives you a much needed break and allows you to blow off steam.
Those are the simple habits that can enhance your life: limiting your to-do list, ask for help, let go of the things you cannot control, breathe and laugh. As I mentioned, start slowly by incorporating one activity into your routine for a couple of weeks. Then add a second when you are ready. Eventually, you will not even have to think about doing these things, it will come naturally and you can share them with others to help enhance their life!
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