Everybody experiences stress, no matter their age, job, financial situation, or any other range of factors. Stress is a part of life. When you think about it, stress in itself is actually a good thing. It’s a sign. That sign is designed to alert you to action, so we need it to some extent. Stress motivates us, propels us to overcome challenges, and helps us reach new levels of understanding and capability. But, stress is meant to only go so far and no further. If it goes further, as in the case of someone who experiences too much stress or stress that is prolonged, then it becomes an inhibitor and even dangerous. Today, stress has taken on a new meaning. For our ancestors, stress was a necessary signal from the body, and it subsided after the stressor was removed. In our society now, stress has become the norm. It’s ever-present, and it feels to many like there’s no end in sight thanks to how often in our lives today we feel we’re on a wheel we can’t get off of.
When stress begins to become a problem, many people begin to experience health alerts like insomnia, fatigue, illness, anxiety, depression, high blood pressure, and more. However, we often don’t stop to readjust when these issues arise because they’ve become so common in our culture, we don’t see them as the red flags that they are. Left untreated, these issues will develop into more serious health problems over time, like heart conditions, serious diseases, adrenal and thyroid complications, etc., so the motivation to get to the bottom of them and change our lifestyles is definitely there, yet we’re not doing much to help ourselves.
If stress is showing you it’s getting out of control, take control and do something about it now, starting with these tips.
- Starting making a list on Sunday nights of all the things you’re supposed to accomplish for the week. Then, ask yourself if all those things really need to be done. Maybe start by taking just one thing off the list and increase week by week. It’s likely nothing terrible will happen if you lighten your load a little. With more time to relax, your body and mind will have time to repair.
- Carve out some alone time. Even just 10 minutes a day of time spent by yourself can do wonders. Slow down, get quiet, and refresh.
- Spend time outdoors and with friends. When we get caught up in all the have-to’s, we forget about the joys of life. Get outside and connect with nature. Take a walk. Look at the sky. Remember that you yourself are a part of nature. Also set aside time to enjoy your loved ones. Set obligations aside and have a real conversation or just relish quality time together.
- Remember your hobbies and interests. Though life can sometimes feel like a never-ending to-do list, it’s up to you to make yourself and your own pleasure a priority. It’s important to stop and do the things you love to do here and there. What lit you up as a kid? Painting? Music? Hiking? Let yourself enjoy these things, even when you’re busy.
- Learn to meditate. Meditation has become so trendy lately that it can seem like a passing fad, but it’s actually an ancient form of quieting the mind and connecting with ourselves. There really isn’t one right way to do it either. Just go somewhere quiet, close your eyes, and try not to concentrate on any one thing. Let your thoughts flow by. Focus on your breath. You’d be surprised how much healing happens when you do this.
- Exercise and eat a healthy diet. The foods you eat your drinks you consume play a big role in how your body responds to stress, as does exercise. Get your body moving, burn off negative energy, and nourish your body and mind with healthy, whole foods that give you energy and stabilize your mood.
- Sleep more. Yes, this can be problematic if you’re stressed, but changing your routine can go a long way. Try to go to bed at the same time every night. Put the phone away. Turn off the TV. Have some warm tea and put on your coziest pajamas. Having a soothing routine before bed will help train your mind that this is a time for relaxation and not running through to-do’s.