Over the past couple of months I’ve written a few blogs on how to analyze your stress….a series of questions. If you didn’t see those, check my website and if you feel motivated, write your answers to the questions. They truly give you a good handle on the where, what, who of the stress you experience. And they are taken from my book: YOUR PERSONAL STRESS ANALYSIS.
Once you see the places, the people, the situations, the experiences you find stressful, it’s time to say, “Hey maybe I can do something about this?!
First, a bit of a warning…many of the things that do the most to help reduce and manage stress are NOT things many people want to do. However, if you know some folks who seem to be on top of the stress challenge, you’ll discover they DO THESE THINGS.
Let’s get the BIG THREE out of the way. These are hardest and most effective. Truly.
-Regular meditation. That means daily periods of quiet for 20 minutes. I think it’s ideal to do 20 minutes twice a day. I know, I know. It sounds like too much. So start with one 20 minute session. Some people find it so helpful they work hard to find the extra time. If you need instruction there are now multiple apps for on line direction. And their are classes in most cities. And there are written instructions in the appendix of my book.
-Regular exercise. Another time demand. But consider this. Exercise improves your mood, ups your energy, and helps you see you have more time than you realized….And you don’t need to break any records. Just move. Start with 30 minutes a day and see where to go from there. Find a friend who wants to be your “affirmation partner” and check in with that individual daily.
-Create a healthy eating plan. It’s sometimes hard to imagine what we eat has such a big impact on stress. Just remember that too much of anything makes your body work too hard. So putting good things in your system will energize you AND help you relax. I think grain free eating increases energy and sometimes, in some people, reduces mild depression. Trust your own professional resources on what approach works best for you.
These next things might not seem as difficult to work into your life….
-Have more fun when you can! PLAY more. Recall the things you loved doing when younger…not just in your 20’s…all the way back to childhood. One example might be ADULT COLORING BOOKS. I’m not yet clear on what makes them work, but many individuals report the process of coloring, even in groups reduces stress.
-Step outside “the box.” Do some things you wouldn’t typically do. Nothing crazy. Just testing the water in unexplored territory.
-Volunteer for some project that has meaning for you. We do feel better when we help others.
-Clean house. First your physical space…..get rid of things you either DO NOT LOVE OR DO NOT USE. STUFF stresses us. And a bit harder: look at that list of people who create stress in your life. Either get some healthy distance; learn to confront them when you need to: OR, and this is harder — consider what it would mean to back away from the relationships that seem truly unmanageable or make you unhappy.
-Unleash your creativity. Maybe you want to build, write, draw, paint, design, dance… creativity makes our juices flow. And that flow reduces stress.
-Finally check out that ONE thing you know would make you happy but you are not DOING. Ask what’s in your way? And if there’s more than one thing, make a list! See what you are ready to change, one thing at a time.
You can’t eliminate stress. You CAN reduce it, get your arms around it, feel and know you are taking good care of yourself. You do deserve that. And if anything feels just too big or too difficult, ask for help. And always talk to your doctor when you make changes in exercise and diet.