Some really great articles have come across my desk recently about how to deal with and reduce the amount of stress in our lives. Stress in and of itself can take a toll on our health, and let’s face it - when we are stressed we may not make the healthiest decisions for ourselves (in the food and drinks we consume, etc.). While most of us are familiar in dealing with the normal day-to-day stressors, there are moments where stress can challenge us beyond our normal coping ability – and we are left feeling anxious, irritable, and overwhelmed.
After recounting a recent stress-filled moment in her blog, (http://madelinelemon.com/how-to-easily-reduce-stress/), Madeline Lemon states, “What I learned from this is that we must take time to care for ourselves.”
That is so very true! Only by taking time to care for ourselves, can we truly care for others. Tips abound on how to cope with stress; I’ve listed a few of my favorites below:
Consciously perform tasks in slow motion. This tip was provided by Toni Bernhard on her blog http://tinybuddha.com/blog/how-to-reduce-stress-by-doing-less-and-doing-it-slowly/) and it seems like an easy one for me to work into my daily routine. Oftentimes, I’m working at full speed, rushing from one thing to the next and thereby increasing the level of stress I feel. By training myself to slow down, I’ll be more present in the moment and more focused on the task at hand – hopefully reducing stress and increasing productivity.
One of Madeline’s suggestions for reducing stress is to take a day for yourself as often as possible. For me, it’s hard to give myself permission to turn the computer off, not answer the phone and ignore the pile of laundry waiting for me – in essence, to play “hooky”. But whenever I do take a few hours to indulge something I enjoy (my personal favorite is antiquing), I come back refreshed, relaxed and renewed.
Incorporate moments of relaxation into your day. I’ve learned that the parasympathetic nervous system, which produces a calm and relaxed state, needs to be stimulated. You may want to try Progressive Relaxation where you tense and release each muscle group from the top of your body to your toes. Concentrating on slowing down your breathing, practicing deep breathing, mindfulness, meditation and/or yoga are all ways in which to relax and give your body a break from stress.
My favorite tip of all is to simply unplug – your computer, your phone, your television. There are so many things competing for our attention that it can be overwhelming at times. Technology is great in that it allows us to connect with anyone at anytime. But too much technology is never a good thing. We need to unplug in order to recharge.
The best stress management involves recognizing the signs of stress, avoiding stressful situations when you can, changing your reaction when you can’t, taking care of yourself, and making time for relaxation and renewal. Filling your personal tool box with healthy coping strategies will enable you to reduce the harmful effects of stress in your life.
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