We live in a stressful world. And these are especially stressful times. Just turning on the news is scarier than ever with the constant flood of covid-19 updates, developments and questions. Stress is constantly being thrust upon us it seems. So what can we do to reduce our stress?
Let’s start off by understanding what stress is. Stress is a normal part of life as it is physical, mental or emotional reaction to change that needs you to adjust or respond. Stresses can be external (caused by the environment such as your car ride to work, a social setting, psychological situations you may experience) or internal (caused by illness, or medical procedure.) We usually recognize stress when we feel it as you often feel overwhelmed, may experience headaches or fatigue or just can’t think as clearly as you normally would.
Stress can be caused by all sorts of things such family responsibilities, an illness or injury, emotional problems such as anxiety or anger, or traumatic events. Toxic work environments, too much work or situtations you cannot change at work can also cause stress.
Signs of Stress–Emotional
Personally, I experience stress more emotionally than I do physically. Some signs you are stressed is feeling overwhelmed, unmotivated to work, having trouble with sleeping, feeling anxious or depressed, having trouble with your memory, feeling angry, restless or irritable. I remember when I was super stressed I couldn’t think at work at all. I felt like I was in a constant fog, trying to remember things. I was also very unmotivated and just generally mad at the concept of working. My stress was displaying itself emotionally in a lot of ways.
Signs of Stress-Physical
I didn’t realize it at the time, but there were also tons of signs physically that were indicators of the stress I was under. Some physical signs are weight gain, sore jaw from teeth grinding/clenching, digestive issues, problems with your period, intense cravings for carbs, and fatigue. I had all of these. My naturopath actually told me at the time that the carb cravings were because carbs calm down the crotisol hormone caused by stress. And mine was firing constantly! Interestingly enough, I always felt great after a huge carby meal. My mind was clear, my fatigue would vanish, but boy has my waistline suffered!
Top 6 Tips to Reduce Stress
My first one is one I’m always talking about–indulge in a hobby! This is so important. Having something you like to do, that keeps your mind engaged and allows you to set aside your stressors is going to be huge in overcoming some of that stress. Whether this hobby is painting, photography, cooking, bird watching, knitting or writing, be sure to set time aside so you can indulge in your hobby and enjoy yourself.
Journal. Journalling is a great form of self care and is going to really reduce your stress. It’s so cathartic and you will not regret venting your feelings, or setting goals in the slightest. It leaves you feeling uplifted, and sometimes helps you solve a problem.
Try bringing nature into your home. Being out in nature has shown to greatly improve our mood and reduce our anxiety. Take a walk if you can, but also bring nature into your home. A potted plant or two can add a feeling of calm to your home, but also try planting some herbs to grow indoors. They’ll add flavour to your cooking, and will be something to take care of that requires your mind be present, thus removing you from your stressors.
Don’t bring your work home. Period. There should be clear boundaries between work time and home/me time. Many of us are working from home right now, but there should be a time that you simply put away your work phone, turns off notifications, don’t check email, etc. Select a time (perhaps the end of your normal work day) and stick to it. Having me time is so valuable–you can take care of your family and yourself. Indulge in that hobby. Take a bath, watch a movie. Live.
This one might easier said than done, but don’t sweat the small stuff. Who cares what your boss thought about X that you did today? Or what your sister-in-law meant when she said Z? Trust me, they aren’t giving it a second thought, so neither should you. If you are always doing your best, being kind, have reasonable boundaries, have made efforts to amend, then the rest is their problem and not yours.
Practice mindfulness. This could be a whole article unto itself, but mindfulness is useful. Be present in what you do. If it’s a meeting, be present, but once the meeting is over and you’re gardening, then pay attention to the garden! Feel the earth in your hands, appreciate the colours, notice the ladybugs, literally stop and smell the roses. Don’t let the stressors take over your thoughts. Yoga is a great way to start practice mindfulness if this is hard for you to do. The movement and breathing require way too much attention for you to be thinking about much else.
Know When to Seek Help
Please seek medical attention if you believe the stress is too much for you, physically or emotionally. I am not a doctor, or mental health professional. These are simply tips to help you manage every day stress. If you are experiencing pain in you body, or suicidal or other self harming thoughts, please seek help. Contact your doctor, support line or go to the ER.
Stress management is very important, so I hope some of these tips are useful. If you have other tips, please drop them in the comments below and be sure to subscribe to my newsletter for the latest in freebies and blog news.