When your car breaks down in the middle of the road on a Monday morning or you have a deadline on an important project at work, how do you respond? Stress can be considered a normal part of life and may be experienced by everyone in different ways. The reality is that we live in a fast-paced society that requires for many of us to attend to various life demands that may cause stressful situations to arise. More often than not, stress can easily go unnoticed if we don’t pay close attention to small things that may lead to stress such as lacking time management skills, overcommitting to yourself, or fear around the unknown of the future. The key to living a balanced life is recognizing how to manage feeling overwhelmed by stress on a regular basis, as well as learning how to manage unexpected stressful situations that are out of our control in a healthy way.
As some of us might have already experienced, excessive stress can impact your body, mood, and behavior; it can also lead to severe chronic and mental health illnesses when ignored or not dealt with. Let’s take a step back, take a cleansing breath and unpack how to recognize if/when we are experiencing excessive stress and what steps we can take to better manage our life stressors.
Identifying Excessive Stress Symptoms:
- Chest pain
- Muscle tension/fatigue
- Upset stomach
- Increased Anxiety
- Irritability and anger
- Lack of motivation
- Social withdrawal
- Substance abuse
- Changes in eating habits
The symptoms above can very easily be overlooked as we subconsciously function on “auto-pilot” on a daily basis, which is why it is so important to recognize possible symptoms of stress and how to manage them in a healthy way. Now, that we have a point of reference to begin identifying stress, let’s take a look at different approaches of reducing stress that can help with your mental health and improve your quality of life.
Ways to reduce stress:
- Identify the sources of stress: Stress management starts with awareness. Identifying the source of stress in your life will help you identify thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that contribute to your everyday stress levels. (For example, when work is a source of stress, you can narrow down what about work causes you to feel uneasy. If it’s deadlines then one can take a look at procrastination which might be causing the stress, instead of the job at hand.)
- Reevaluate and Take Control of Your Schedule: Having an overcommitted schedule may add unnecessary stress to your life. It is important to assess and establish priorities as well as acknowledge the season that you are in. Often, some may struggle with over commitment as a result of struggling with setting boundaries and saying “no”. Always remember this when you say “yes” what are you saying “no” to? It’s okay when you have a few items left on your daily schedule. I find by pushing those one or two items to my to do list for the next day helps me give myself grace.
- (Tip: Making a day-to-day schedule can help with feeling less overwhelmed with by everyday tasks).
- Set Time Aside for Yourself: It is important to schedule time for things that make you feel relaxed and entuned with yourself. This can include exercise, read a book, go for a walk, get a massage...
- Practice Gratitude: When feeling overwhelmed or stressed, take a moment to reflect on all the things you appreciate in your life, your own positive qualities and gifts. This simple strategy can help you keep things in perspective. I am thankful for…
- Connect With Others: There is nothing more calming than being able to spend quality time with those individuals that make you feel safe and understood. Finding time to connect, have fun, and or meet new people will help reduce life stressors and feel a sense of support.
If you need a safe space to talk about stress management contact Dianne Brown to schedule an appointment.