Are you feeling stressed and overwhelmed, as if the smallest thing could make you just explode or dissolve? If this has become the norm in your life, then it’s time to break the stress cycle.
Stress comes from somewhere
If you are living with permanent stress, the first step is to identify the cause. Stress and anxiety are fight-or-flight instincts, and these are your body’s way of responding to emergencies. Something is triggering your stress reaction – it could be your job, a personal situation or even a health issue. Identifying your emergencies can help stop anxiety from spilling over into other areas of your life; even if you don’t have an immediate answer to a crisis, you can contain it.
Stress should never be ignored
One of the worst effects of ongoing anxiety and stress is that it can make you freeze up. Suddenly everything feels impossible and you lose your ability to problem-solve. Identifying the major source of your stress means that you can research solutions, talk to people and make plans to change the situation.
Some tricks for managing daily stress
Not all stress is caused by big problems: trying to get cranky kids ready for school, sitting in endless traffic jams or having to deal with unhappy customers are all immediate stressors! Here are some instant stress-breakers to help you re-set your mood.
- Take deep breaths. Inhale and exhale slowly. You’ve heard this before, but it really works. Breathe…
- Count to 10. Repeat, and count to 20 if necessary – it changes your focus, even just for a minute, and that can be all it takes to break a stress cycle.
- Don’t aim for perfection. If you can’t solve everything in the moment, take a message, take a name and number, and give yourself time to do your best.
- Accept the things you can’t change. You can’t control the traffic, so make sure you have some good music on hand.
- If your deadlines are driving you crazy, watch something funny for a moment – a good laugh goes a long way to re-setting your mood.
- Take a time-out. Go for a short walk, have a shower, go and make yourself a cup of tea – just step out of the stressful situation for a few minutes, if you can.
- Eat balanced meals. This may seem obvious, but if you are facing a 45-minute traffic jam on an empty stomach, it could be a recipe for road rage.
- Get enough sleep. This one can be hard to do if you have a new baby in the house, but get sleep where you can, and get enough of it.
- Exercise daily to help you feel good. Being fit means feeling better, and you’ll start looking forward to exercise sessions that help you work off that stress.
One of the most important steps for managing stress – whether short-term or ongoing – is to talk to someone. Tell friends and family if you’re feeling overwhelmed, let them know how they can help you, or brainstorm practical solutions with them. Just don’t get stuck in the stress-rut: you don’t belong there.
Joanne Hart for HelloDoctor.com