When you think about the many stress triggers we are surrounded by each day, it is easy to see why health issues and stress are linked. We encounter daily commutes, hectic schedules, a desire to juggle work and family life and long work hours. In modern society expectations are high and because of this, it can be seemingly impossible to escape from stress.
The good news is, you can take the power back and keep stress in check by adding a few tweaks to your daily life. See these tips below for stopping stress in its tracks:
Tips for Keeping Stress in Check
- Take Ten Minutes to Yourself Each Day.
In this day and age, people tend to feel they are relaxing by scrolling through social media, playing games on cell phones and watching television. On the contrary, this constant stream of connectivity is part of what is keeping us from refreshing our minds, bodies and souls.
---Most likely the best stress reliever you can practice is to take ten minutes to yourself alone each day. It is recommended to do this through meditation which you will see more on below but if you are not ready to try this, start by unplugging electronics and allowing yourself to daydream for ten minutes a day.
Try setting your alarm clock 15 minutes early to quietly focus on the breathe for a few minutes before rolling out of bed and throwing yourself into the morning routine. Do not instantly whip out the cell phone! Take a few minutes for you.
- Focus on What You Can Control
Pay attention to what events and happenings you can control and which you cannot. Realize not everything is within your control and that this is okay. You have probably heard this quote and whether you are religious or not, it is a helpful reminder of what you can and cannot control.
“God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.”
Another tactic that MJ Impastato from H2H Systems recommends is to put the palm of your hand on your nose. Everything beyond your hand, you are not in control of. It sounds simple but it is a helpful reminder that brings you to back to focusing on what you can control—your reactions, actions, responses and behavior in general. Adopting this mindset over time will surely reduce the stress in your life.
- Set Clear Boundaries
Setting clear boundaries will be one of the most challenging of these tips to adhere to. The reason for this ties back to the current state of society we live in which is extremely connected and filled with high expectations. We are fortunate for the state we live in but again, we need to keep it all in perspective.
It is so easy to want to do everything when there simply is not enough time in the week to do it all. To keep from overplanning and having stress spiral out of control, try writing out your top goals each week. If a last minute optional plan or demand pops up go, back to your list and see if it interferes with your weekly goals i.e. spend two hours of quality time with family, studying to attain more skills in the workforce, calling a loved one or taking some time to meditate or exercise.
It is impossible to say yes to everything that comes up without having it negatively affect your life. Make sure to communicate boundaries with friends, colleagues, family and friends.
In the words of Kyle Elliot Consulting, “Once boundaries are set, communicate them to your supervisor, colleagues, direct reports, family and friends, so they are aware of your boundaries and more importantly, can help hold you to them. Set regular work hours, leave work at work and don't check email at home.” In other words, be mindful and realistic when it comes to of how much energy you have per day in order to keep relaxed and in turn productive and healthy.
- Stay Present
One tip for staying in the present moment is to remind yourself of what you can do in the moment to help you accomplish desired goals. When distractions set in, try to bring it back to the present moment. In the words of Machen, MacDonald, from ProBrilliance Institute, “Stay present and do your best.”
It helps with efficiency to put tasks in order based on their importance and urgency. Dr. Sharon H. Porter from Perfect Time SHP LLC says, “Do what is urgent and important, delegate what is urgent and not important, date what is important and not urgent, and drop what is not urgent and not important.”
- Simple Meditation
Take deep breaths and only pay attention to your the rythm of breathing in and out. When thoughts begin to come up, which they will, do not think of this is as a failed attempt at meditation. Instead, note that you were thinking in that moment and bring it back to the breath.
- Mentally Scan Your Body
By tuning into your body, you will be able to gauge how much stress is affecting it daily. This technique also helps to relieve tension. By noticing areas of discomfort, it is easier to let go of tension. Try lying on your back and start with the top of your head, then work all the way down to each part of your body until you reach your toes. Notice how each part of the body feels as you do this.
- Check in With Your Inner Self
In the words of Laura Hinds from Women’s Luxury Guild, ‘ Take the time to breathe, acknowledge and affirm what you want for your life. If anything does not fit, remove the stress and keep moving forward.”
- Reach Out + Give & Receive
Our social networks are one of the best tools we have for handling stress. Try talking to others about what you are going through. Friends and family can give you a renewed perspective and a chance to work your thoughts out. It is nice to have people to lean on but always remember how good it can feel to do good for others as well. Anything from volunteering at a soup kitchen to lending a helping hand to a friend during a difficult time can help reduce stress and make you feel more connected.
- Be Mindful of Social Media Intake
The truth is, social media and television can affect you emotionally. Pay attention to what kind of content you are consuming throughout the day. Before sleep it is best to read a book or call a friend. There are studies which link breathing to our emotions. Watching and consuming negative content can shorten the breath and it is best to relax throughout the day, at least before we wind down to sleep.
- Create a Healthy Sleep Schedule
1.) Eat breakfast to avoid blood sugar crashes which increase the stress hormone cortisol.
2.) Eat the right carbs. By eating the right carbs you will increase tryptophan and in turn create melatonin which gets the body ready for sleep. Try the 1-2-3 rule: having one non-starchy, non-processed carbohydrate for breakfast, two at lunch and three at dinner.
3.) Create a nightly sleep routine that will signal to your body “we are going to sleep now.” Each night before bed, wash your face, brush and floss teeth, change into pajamas and go into bed with intention of sleep.
- Schedule a Quiet Weekend for Yourself
This one is easy to let slip by as we live in a very connected society and there always seems to be something to do, yet not enough time to do it. This is why it is important to schedule a quiet weekend as needed. At this time you can go through goals, work commitments, appointments, family plans, etc., for the week ahead so you are prepared and on top of your schedule.
- Check Your Ego
In the words of Lu Xanne, "Stress comes from a place where the things we want are not turning out to be what we envisioned them to be. It could be a decision that we have made, or it could be a decision that we have yet to make. Stress comes from a place of anxiety. Right in the the middle of the word “anxiety” is the letter “i.” It's all about what you want. We can reduce stress by doing a check on our ego.”
Another way to check your ego is to concentrate on experiences that keep you mindful. In the words of Cari Coats from Ascendo Leadership Advisory Group, “Do great leaders thrive on constant pressure? Actually, no. Too many leaders slip into destructive patterns taking themselves and those around them down. Power stress isn't sustainable for leadership effectiveness. We can moderate stress through intentional experiences of renewal that fuel mindfulness, hope and compassion. Successful leadership is a long game that requires living on purpose.”
- Keep Exercising
A bit of daily exercise is one of the best tactics to manage stress. This is because it helps improve brain health, cardiovascular fitness, produces feel-good chemicals, improves stamina, keeps away dementia and calms our nervous system.
- Don’t Assume the Worst
Catastrophes happen but worrying about them does not help. Worrying increases stress, anxiety and fosters a negative mindset. Remind yourself that life is full of uncertainty but you will be able to cope with whatever is thrown in your direction.
Be present and remind yourself that what you are worrying about is not happening now so there is no point in dwelling on it.
Although stress is healthy and even key for survival, too much of it accumulated over time can wreak havoc on the immune system and be detrimental to our health. With the current state of society, stress naturally creeps into our daily lives so it takes a conscious effort to keep it in in check. The above tips are sure to get you on track toward a happier, calmer and healthier life.