In this busy day and age, we’re constantly being bombarded with information, images, news, deadlines and demands on our time. We’re also juggling more tasks than ever before, balancing the needs of family, friends, pets, kids work, finances and even social media.
No wonder we’re all so bloody stressed out!
But why does stress make us feel so bad and more importantly what can we do to avoid the damaging mental and physical affects of stress and live a calmer, happier, healthier life instead?
Why does stress make us feel bad?
Stress is a natural reaction and depending on the context can actually be quite beneficial. It’s a way for our body to go on instant high alert – rather handy if you ever need to jump out of the way of a vehicle heading your way (kids on scooters count),or run away from something or someone.
It isn’t particularly helpful though when you feel overwhelmed by a huge workload or threatened by a looming argument with your spouse or your kids.
That kind of stress sucks. But self care can help…
How we react to stress
Often our first reaction to stress is emotional. You might feel agitated, nervous and even angry. After a while that frustration can turn to feeling anxious, run-down, and even depressed.
The physical symptoms may start a little later but often go right along with how you’re feeling mentally. Common symptoms of stress include:
- Feeling tense and taught
- A sore neck and shoulder muscles
- Painful headaches
- Stomach pains, upset stomach and even diarrhea.
If you notice any of those symptoms on a regular basis and you’re not unwell, they could well be stress related.
Of course back in the stone age when stress was a reaction to a physical threat, all of this made sense. Tense muscles agitation would help us run faster and fight harder. Today, many causes of stress are mental rather than physical and our bodies simply haven’t caught up yet.
Add to this the fact that many of us are under constant stress every day and it’s no wonder that we’re suffering adverse health effects, both mental and physical.
Preventing stress with self care
So, once you know that stress is affecting your life, what can you do about it?
First, be proactive and cut as much stress as you can out of your life. Sure, that’s easier said than done, but even simple little things can help and will add up over time. If you’re stressed out in the morning because the kids aren’t ready to head out the door in time, spend a little time in the evening getting book bags, lunches, and school clothes ready.
If you get stressed out about not finding the work files you need, reorganise so you have everything at your fingertips.
If you’re a busy wellpreneur who is stressing out over the time you’re spending on promoting your business via social media, consider investing in social media planning software that does the hard work for you. Post Planner is one of my favourites and the recycle button saves me hours of time each month.
Try to find a physical outlet for the pent up energy caused by stress. It could be something high energy like kick boxing or Zumba or something more relaxing like yoga or even Qi-gong.
Get clear on your priorities and then delegate or cancel anything that’s not important or essential.
Finally, take the time to indulge in a little self-care, a small but regular indulgence could be just what you need to de-stress. If you take care of yourself, you end up happier, healthier and in a much better frame of mind to serve those around you.
You need to make time for me time. You see by paying just a little bit of attention to your own self-care, the fog will lift, you’ll feel more connected to yourself and the world around you and things won’t seem quite as difficult as they did before.
What’s more, creating a positive daily ritual helps us make the time to refuel our bodies and, when done regularly over a period of time (at least 30 days) actually helps reprogram our minds to be more positive.
Start by picking a time, place, and activity that will help you relax. Don’t be afraid to try different things until you find the ritual that feels right to you. It’s someone unique to you.
Here are a few self-care ideas that might help you de-stress. Remember, it’s important that your ritual is something you enjoy. Use these ideas as a starting point to get thinking.
- Take 30 minutes out to read a book.
- Run yourself a hot bath, pop in some magnesium flakes and relaaaaaaaaax.
- Fix yourself a nice cup of tea, and then give yourself a quiet 5 minutes to actually drink it!
- Write a list of everything and everyone who has caused you stress in the last 24 hours, then bin it, burn it and release.
- Take a nap, seriously, it really helps.
- Meet a friend for coffee and cake.
- Or even better, meet a friend for a few glasses of wine.
- Go for a short walk, take in the sounds, sights and smells of nature.
- Treat yourself to your favourite magazine and head to bed an hour early to read it.
- Actually, just head to bed an hour early anyway.
- Pamper yourself with a DIY face mask.
- Snuggle for a few minutes with your favorite pet. Kitty cuddles are the best!
- Try a 5-minute guided meditation.
- Get up a few minutes earlier to have quiet time to drink your coffee and contemplate your day.
- Take 10 minutes at the end of each day to write in a gratitude journal.
- Be creative, take time out to practice your favourite hobby, sewing, knitting, and writing have all be shown to help eliminate stress
- Listen to some soothing music. I’m a big fan of the Calm app.
- On a sunny day, go cloud watching – find a peaceful spot, lie back, relax and simply watch the sky go by.
- Switch off everything around you. The TV, your phone, everything. And just sit quietly and enjoy the peace.
At the end of the day it doesn’t really matter what you do as long as it’s something you enjoy and it’s something you do for yourself. Work it into your daily schedule and most importantly, give yourself permission to indulge in these little rituals. They are fuel for your soul and will make you a better person the rest of the day.
So, what can you do for yourself today?