“Good! Busy…REALLY busy!” is the answer I get almost every time I ask someone.
But what happens when we have so much on our plates, so much to look after that it causes us stress, unhappiness and worry – even anxieties and fears? This isn’t a place we want to be in for very long. We can all deal with short term stress, but the long term stress that builds up over weeks, months and sometimes years can wreak havoc on our bodies, mind and spirit.
So what to do when you’re overwhelmed? Where to start when you feel things are getting to be too much? And just how do you know you’re stressed to begin with?!
Well, here is something to think about: in the end, it doesn’t matter that we’re stressed, anxious or overwhelmed. What does matter is how we deal with it and what we do to manage it.
All of us are stressed to some degree and we all get moments of anxiety and fatigue. But if we can recognize our particular signs of stress or overwhelm, we can take action to help ourselves. I encourage you to learn what the signs and symptoms of stress look like for you. Write them down! It could be overeating – or under-eating. It could be that your breathing becomes shallow or that your focus is off. You’re not capable of doing your job the way you used to or maybe you’re less patient and more snappy than usual. Take some personal inventory and write your stress signals down as they occur as well as the stressors themselves. When we write the signals down, it’s helpful to add time, place and situation as well. Then, using some suggestions below, let’s see how we can turn them around.
The 8 Tips
These tools are very simple and they work. It's best to use them often, preferably daily. Let’s start with #1.
1.Take care of yourself first.
This may sound selfish to us at first, but let's think about it. How can we take care of others when we're not well enough ourselves? The first step to managing stress, overwhelm or any imbalance is to nourish, nurture and love ourselves. This will look different for each individual, so find what de-stresses you and do it often! One important action to take towards this is to...
2.Eat nutritious foods.
It has been proven time after time that what we eat affects our brains, our moods, our nervous systems and every major function of our bodies. So let's take time in the morning for a nutritious breakfast, enjoy a fulfilling lunch and skip that 4th cappuccino! It will taste good for a few minutes, but the jitters afterwards just aren’t worth it. While we’re eating healthy, it’s also great to...
3.Have a regular practice.
We've all surely heard that yoga and meditation are good for us. Well it's true – they are! So let’s grab our mats & pillows, light that meditation candle & go within. The best time for this is early morning as it will allow us to set the tone for the day. Psychologist Kelly McGonical tells us that “Over time, meditators’ brains become finely tuned willpower machines!” This means that in daily life we will be able to become better at choosing how we react to potential stressors. And this choice will make the difference between having a bad day and a good one. We can either choose to take a breath and calm down or we can react and lash out. Which of these sounds like a better option? One response we can choose to make is to…
Laughing is a fantastic relaxer! When we laugh, we release endorphins – our bodies’ ‘feel good hormones’. We’re also flexing a great number of muscles when we laugh and thus getting a bit of a workout, enabling us to feel more relaxed afterward. Did you know that babies laugh about 300 times a day and the average adult about 29? Let’s raise that number! One way we can do this is by…
5.Spend time with inspiring, uplifting people.
A truly great way to unwind, get inspired and feel uplifted is by sharing the company of people who do what they love and who love and respect you just the way you are. In their presence, there’s no need to be anyone else (which is exhausting) – just beautiful you! A great way to reduce stress is to visit places that inspire us and create real friendships and relationships built on honesty, trust and respect. This will ultimately allow us to…
We tend to become very serious and intolerant when we’re stressed. We miss little signs, we forget to be kind, we can be impatient and sometimes gruff. But when we know that all is perfectly planned and choose to allow the universe to take care of things, it gives us permission to let go and allow events to unfold naturally. We can’t control it all and, in the end, we don’t really want to. It’s exhausting! This is why the next tip is so important.
7.Ask for help and learn to delegate.
Yep, delegate and ask for help! At work AND at home. Why does mom have to be the only one feeding all the animals? Why do you have to do most of the work in the office? Well, if we don’t learn to delegate and start trusting that other people can do just as good of a job as we can (or perhaps better and faster), then we will be running the ship, but at what cost? Share the duties, make a schedule, divide the tasks, and enjoy watching everybody run the ship together. It’s much more fun and seriously less stressful!And if all else fails, ASK YOUR KIDS WHAT THEY WOULD DO.Yes, really! You will likely be surprised by the answers. They are often simple, to the point and significantly less stressful. And now, my last suggestion for feeling relaxed, calm and at peace:
Last, but certainly not least: Have an attitude of gratitude. It’s scientifically measured that people who can count their blessings, who are grateful for all things in their life, truly feel less stressed. Even stress or anxiety is something to be grateful for since it is an intense and direct indicator that you need to back off, relax or handle things differently. So let’s be grateful for what we have and for what we can do. Let’s be grateful for our loved ones and for our very breath. Believe that all is exactly as it should be and that when you do your best, the rest must be covered!
We can’t control it all, and letting go is sometimes challenging, but once you do let go and start trusting, a flow enters your life that can be turned into the current of your world to hold you, carry you and show you when it’s time to take action and when it’s time to rest!
So let’s enjoy each moment of our lives, hold one another’s hands, smile at the stranger passing by, take a deep breath between emails and train ourselves to recognize our signs of stress and turn them around to success!