Stress is an inevitable part of life…and it comes in many forms. We experience stress physically, mentally and even, environmentally. And although some stress in life is normal, too much of it in our lives can take a tremendous toll on our health and well-being. Specifically, stress causes an increase in the release of adrenaline into your system, which can slow digestion, cell repair and your immune system. Further, your heart rate and blood pressure can increase while the circulation in your extremities can become constricted. And if stress isn’t managed properly, it can ultimately contribute to heart disease and cancer. I think it goes without saying: diminishing stress and its effects is an important part of a healthy, balanced lifestyle.
Not only will reducing stress positively impact your health, but it will also increase your productivity, improve your relationships and help you have a more enjoyable life all around. This New Year, resolve to reduce stress and its impacts on your life. See the positive that comes out of doing so and you’ll feel and look better than ever.
- Acknowledgment: Acknowledging what is causing you stress is the first step to understanding how to diminish it. Stress can become so “typical” in one’s life, however, that it can become difficult to even know when you are under it. As a result, start paying attention to your reactions to different situation and to different people. Are you tense? Do you feel sick? Do you get a headache? Are you ultra sensitive? Do you feel anxious? Does something just not feel right? Maybe it is your work. Maybe it is your financial situation. Maybe your relationships are strained. Whenever you feel off or funny, acknowledge it.
- Journal/Document: When you feel these things, write in a journal your thoughts, your fears, your emotions and your physical reactions. Documenting these will help you to see patterns in your situations. You’ll start to develop an increased awareness of what sets you off…and what causes your blood to boil. Even happy stress should be documented.
- Address the Stress: Once you can see a pattern or understand what is causing you to feel stressed, you can then address it. Realize, however, that some things are out of our control and instead of focusing on the situation, we need to focus on managing the stress we feel. For those things you DO have control over, list the specifics of what makes you feel stressed and how you can resolve them. Maybe you need to delegate. Maybe you need to break the task up into smaller chunks. Maybe you have to reevaluate your expectations. For those things you DON’T have control over, however, build techniques into your life to reduce overall levels of stress and release the stress that does occur. For instance, practice deep breathing. Consider taking a walk to temporarily get away from stressful situations. Minimize exposure to stressful individuals. Start meditating to clear your mind and relax.
Remember that taking care of yourself is a natural way to manage stress. Don’t discount important healthy habits like eating right, exercising and getting enough sleep. All of these are important habits that help you naturally ward off the worst of stress.
What causes you the most stress? Will you be resolving to reduce stress in your life this year?