Being told by your doctor that you need to reduce your stress level can be, well, stressful! (Ironic, isn’t it?)
But in reality, stress can take a real toll on our health. The Mayo Clinic cites stress as the cause of a number of ailments including high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity and diabetes just to start. I know that the frequency of my migraines goes u when I am under more stress than usual.
Some stress is out of our control. Work situations may be stressful and we may not be in a position to change jobs immediately. Family can sometimes be the cause of stress (can I get an AMEN from other parents of teens????) and we need to just get through that period as best we can. Other often named causes of stress are finances, the future and sometimes even the past.
There are two things we can do to try and manage our stress and our response to stress. We can try to limit the stress that we do have control over and we can try to minimize our response to stress we can’t control. Today we are going to concentrate on limiting the stressors that we can control.
- Simplify your Day. Resist the urge to overschedule your day. While it may feel good to list out everything that needs to be done in the future and figure you will tackle as much as you can tomorrow, having a to-do list that has no hope of being completed is stressful. Give yourself the gift of a reasonable to-do list and feel victorious when you check off all the items on it!
- Limit Multitasking. We all lead busy lives, but learn to tackle one task at a time. Studies have shown that most people are more productive when they focus on one task at a time and that multitasking can actually slow you down which can then stress you out.
- Be Active. I know, I hate this one too. I’m not someone who gets a lot of enjoyment out of exercise so if something is going to get crossed off my to-do list, it is tempting to let it be exercise. But that is really not a great idea as exercise can be a good way to burn off stress and has numerous other health benefits.
- Reduce Financial Obligations. If finances are a key stressor, limit your spending where you can. Take an honest look at where your money is going: Eating out too much? Hitting the Starbucks drive-thru daily? Then adjust accordingly. Look for free or inexpensive things to do in your area so you don’t wind up feeling deprived.
- Declutter your Home. Having a more organized home with less clutter surrounding you will ease the mind and assist in living a stress-free life. Seriously, there have been multiple studies that have confirmed that clutter does indeed cause stress. So get rid of it! And imagine how blissful it will be to be able to actually find things when you look for them!
- Leave extra time before appointments and events. No matter how difficult it is, learn how long it takes to get yourself and family ready and then work within that time-frame to ensure you arrive early at every appointment. Nothing is more stressful than knowing you are going to be late to arrive somewhere and then getting stuck in traffic. Leave with plenty of extra time and if you are early, you can do a quick meditation in your car while you are waiting. (Hey, I couldn’t finish this topic without mentioning meditation at least once!)
The ultimate way to manage your stress really comes down to making lifestyle changes. It may take some time to make these changes a daily habit, but with some effort you can absolutely do it. Just remember to be gentle with yourself if you fall into old habits. No point in getting yourself stressed about it!!