Here we are in the middle of a pandemic that seems to never end. There is growing evidence of increased stress levels which can be seen virtually everywhere. Personally, I have almost been hit 4 times in crosswalks by people running red lights. Personally, I think there are way better ways to manage stress.
Stress in Stressful Times
Additional examples of people reacting poorly to stress include increased levels of violence, especially domestic, erratic driving, an increasing number of protests, an epidemic of people running red lights, empty store shelves, and many people with frazzled nerves.
So how have you been doing? How do you react to stress? Does it support you to have a great life?
If you have noticed that your stress levels have gone up over the last year, they don’t have to remain here. I want you to know that if you make some simple changes, there are natural ways to lower your response to perceived stress-causing events.
What is Stress
In case you don’t know, stress is defined as “the feeling of being overwhelmed or unable to cope with mental or emotional pressure.”
How Do You Handle Stress?
So how do you personally handle stress (and how are you doing in the pandemic.) If I come to you and tell you that the Tax Department wants to audit you for the last five years. How do you feel? Do you go, “Hey, no big deal,” or does your stomach churn and your thoughts go, “Oh My God, this is not going to be good.”
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How You Handle Stress Affects Everything.
How you deal with stress can significantly influence your day, health, and overall quality of your life. Well, stress is virtually guaranteed in all of our lives. Like many other things about being human, we don’t get much training on dealing with stress.
To help you deal with something inevitable, here are five ways that you can find to calm yourself down and either release the stress or not react in the first place.
Here Are Ways To Manage Your Stress Response:
A) Manage Your Sleep
A tangible common area of neglect in today’s society is making sure that you get proper levels of sleep.
Experts recommend eight hours of sleep to rest our bodies and minds and give us time to rebuild our energy levels. With the lack of sleep, it’s easy to get irritable and be more open to stress. Simply monitoring your sleep levels and developing a sleep regime can help you greatly lower your stress levels.
With so many distractions in today’s society, it is quite easy to find yourself doing everything else but closing your eyes and sleeping. As a result, many people don’t even come close to getting 8 hours.
Rules to live by to get better sleep:
–Designate A Specific Area for Sleep and Only Sleep.
For most people, this will be their bedroom. In some ways, you want to make this into hallowed grounds as you will spend a good part of your life here.
Keep technology out of your bedroom: While we live in a world of technology that seems to fill our lives, from cell phones to computers, you must refrain from any technology for two hours before bedtime. Leave your cell phone in the kitchen and your computers on your desk or in the living room. The blue lighting in technology will disrupt your sleep patterns.
Go to bed at the same time every day: Make a new habit of going to bed at the same time every day and preferably also waking at the same time.
Refrain from drinking coffee and alcohol for at least two hours before bedtime and preferably more. Both the caffeine in coffee and the alcohol in any form of alcoholic beverages can significantly affect your quality of sleep. If you need liquids, have water or non-caffeinated tea.
Try a warm bath if you’re having trouble sleeping!
Get tested for sleeping disorders. Things like sleep apnea (where you quit breathing while you sleep) can significantly affect your quality of sleep and even be life-threatening.
B) Take up meditation: The key to sleeping is calming your mind. For most people, what can keep them awake is their thoughts. The meditation process, which is based on slowing down and focusing your thoughts, teaches you to call yourself and release any ideas that pop up. This helps you clear your mind of any thoughts that might keep you awake.
C) Exercise: Exercise is a critical component of your overall health. Adopting a regular process for exercise, even if it’s something as simple as walking, can help you burn off excess energy and help you calm yourself so that you sleep better.
Starting immediately, design and implement a health regime for a minimum of three days a week.
What I found was that even just walking has helped me a great deal. As a side note, I adopted walking just under a year ago. Today, i hit 1.9 million steps in 11 months and will reach 2 million before year-end. At 66, if I can do this, so can you
Hint: ASAP, get yourself a fitness watch that tracks how much you walk, etc. For me, I have found this to be an amazing positive influence as I simply look at the watch in the afternoon to see how far I have walked. This can inspire me to get away from the computer and head outside.
D) Adopt a Healthy Diet: One thing that will help you monitor the foods you eat and the times you eat them. You must give yourself time to digest before trying to sleep and cut down on anything with stimulants such as caffeine or alcohol. A proper diet like the Mediterranean diet will also help you lose weight and fully energize your body.
E) Relaxation: Make Sure You Implement Time For Relaxation.
You must take time to relax. This can be a day off, weekend or holiday. It’s important to leave all stressful things behind and do something that you enjoy. Getting away from the office or home can give you peace of mind and help the stress just dissipate from your body.
This doesn’t have to be a flight to Hawaii; it could be just heading to the park with the dog. All the things that you associate with stress stay at home. This will help you to refresh yourself and start anew.
F) Join a Yoga Class or other Stress Relief Programs.
This could be joining a bike club, jobbing/walking club, yoga. For most of these activities, the benefits far outweigh any potential costs. Also, try a massage, once a week, once a month, or join a gym or go swimming.
Including these stress-busting activities into your ritual, even if it’s once a week, will help you release any excess tension and help you to recharge your system. The great news is you will also have a lot of fun and feel way more relaxed in the process.
G) Cut back on Information overload
With virtually anything information-wise available at the tip of our fingers, it is so easy to get distracted. Far too often, we get drawn into things that are not helping us. Instead of helping us, outside sources can actually raise our stress levels. Cut back on tv, the news, social media, etc. After all, they really are not adding positive influences to your life.
Instead of watching or listening to the news twice a day, tune in to the news a couple of times a week. When driving, shut off the news, put on something calming, from music to an inspirational track from your collection. If you don’t have a group of calming tracks, it’s time to build one.
H) Be Careful About Who Is Influencing You:
The people we hang around can have a significant influence on us. It can be easy for us to get drawn into other people’s energy, and not all of this is a good thing. Step back and make a list of people you hang out with or are influenced by, including people in the news. Are your associates helping you to have less or more stress? Are you getting more riled up when you’re with them, or are they helping you calm down and see the good in life?’
Do an inventory of the people you hang out with or are influenced by, and ask yourself are they helping you to lower your stress levels or make things worse. For a couple of weeks, cut back on the people who are adding to your stress levels and see what happens. Even just being aware of the influence of others will help you to lower your levels of stress.
Stress is unavoidable and is just a part of our day-to-day living in our modern society. Stress itself is not the issue. How you respond to stress and your strategies for managing stress will make a huge difference.
Most people have no conscious method for dealing with stress. We just take it for granted as part of life and don’t give it much thought. This can be highly detrimental to your health and well-being. If you don’t acknowledge and deal with the stress in your life, it can build up inside you until it finds some form of release.
The best way to release stress is to have a strategy for overcoming it and its effects. If you take action to manage stress and its influences in healthy ways, you’ll find that your quality of life can improve, and sometimes it will be dramatic.
Try the suggestions above and adapt them to your lifestyle and what works for you. A great place to start is leaving technology out of your bedroom, as it can very readily negatively affect how you handle stress. This includes cell phones, computers, and TVs!
Yes, you don’t need to watch a soap opera or especially the news while lying in bed!
Its time to count sheep instead