Tips to Tame Your Stress
*Please read the important note at the end of the article
With the holiday season approaching, many of us begin to feel stressed. There are competing demands on our time and often we create even more pressure by trying to keep everyone happy.
Between all the build up to the holidays, it is easy to forget the basics of selfcare. Remember that if you don’t take care of yourself, you will be less effective as a parent, spouse/partner, employee and friend.
Here is a checklist of some easy and simple things you can do to help keep your stress under control:
Set priorites that are meaningful to you: Take a look at your priorities, make sure they reflect your values and ask yourself what is really important. Over-scheduling, clutter, making promises that are near impossible to keep and poor boundaries all add to stress. This will help you to get control of your schedule and life.
Learn to say ‘no’. This will help with some of the issues in the previous bullet point. Many of us are people-pleasers and we pay the price for it. Work on being assertive. While you are be kind and considerate, you don’t be a slave to others.
Exercise: Exercise is a great stress reducer. 30 minutes or more 3-5 times per week will improve your health and decrease your anxiety – it also helps with sleep problems. Even small, modest amounts of exercise can help – so get moving!
Clean up your diet: The connection between nutrition and mental wellbeing is critical. Eat more fresh fruits and veggies to get the nutrients you require for good health. Limit your caffeine and sugar intake. You might not be able to eliminate caffeine and sugar, but even limiting them, will be better for you. Try to focus on fresh, healthy foods but allow yourself the occasional indulgence.
Stay hydrated: As the temperatures drop, we often find that we drink less water because we might not feel thirsty. But we can get dehydrated just as easily in the colder months. Begin your day with two glasses of water, and be sure to drink plenty of water throughout the day. Sometimes we think we are hungry when in fact we are thirsty, so try drinking a glass of water before you reach for a snack.
Stop the feedback loop: When we are stressed it can often feel like we have a constant stream of thoughts that leave us anxious, worried and feeling negative. Become aware of this and find ways to stop the negative feedback loop. Sometimes taking a short walk can help, meditating, or talking to a friend can help to stop these thoughs and allow you to regain your composure. Learn to watch for this and learn ways that are most effective for you. As soon as you recognize the negative feedback loop is starting, take action!
Mindfulness: Mindfulness is about living in the present moment. It has been found to be very helpful in managing stress and anxiety. Take a class, find an online audio or video or work with me to learn this useful tool.
Deep breathing and relaxation: Focus on your breathing – often we are take quick, shallow breathes and this gets worse when we are stressed. Learn to take deep breaths to calm yourself and to breathe slower.
Get enough sleep: This is so important and yet most of us are not getting enough sleep. We always feel better when we are well rested, so make this a priority this holiday season.
For many of us the stress we feel around the holidays is bothersome but not overwhelming, and many of these tips provided will help.
But if your levels of stress and anxiety are overwhelming you, please reach out to a mental health professional.
Speak to, and share your concerns with a trusted family member or friend.
Get support and help, because you deserve to find peace of mind and happiness!