How to Manage Stress in a Fast-Paced Culture
Do you ever feel you have too much to do and not enough time? Perhaps you find yourself forgetting to breathe, trying to do three things at once or unable to be in the moment. If you're like many of us, a fast-paced life of multi-tasking combined with regular family and career challenges can easily induce stress on a daily basis. And, unfortunately, stress has a significant impact on the human brain and can affect relationship skills, creativity, and joy.
That's a pretty big impact. So, how can you better manage your stress?
The first step is to simply notice when you're stressed. Shine a spotlight on it and name it. For example, every time you notice that you're feeling stressed you can say to yourself, "I recognize that I'm getting overwhelmed in this moment". Or, you can make a check mark on a piece of paper every time stress rears its head. You may have 100 checkmarks on your paper and that's OK. It's important to just acknowledge it and try not to judge yourself.
Once you get really good at noticing when you're stressed, start to identify the sources of your stress and how you react. For example, what's the first thing you notice in your body when you're stressed? What does it feel like? What happened right before you felt this in your body (what triggered your stress)? Better awareness of stress leads to better management of stress.
The second step is to get really clear on the cost of your stress and the benefit of addressing it. For example, the cost may be loss of productivity, the inability to fully relax and a short temper. And the benefit, for example, may be more quality time with your family, lower blood pressure and better communication skills at work. We all need reasons to act and identifying the benefit of changing your behavior can be a terrific motivator.
The third step is to create new best practices to proactively manage your stress on an ongoing basis. Self-care is a great place to start. It's all about you taking better care of yourself which will, in turn, benefit your family, your career and everything else that is important to you. Below is a list of effective self-care practices - ideal for moms - or for anyone who wants less stress in their lives.
1) Schedule Ten Minutes for Yourself Every Day
2) Talk to Friends or Loved Ones
3) Remember to Breathe (deeply and often!)
4) Actively Notice and Express Gratitude and Appreciation
5) Allow Time to Adjust to Life Transitions
6) Take Small Spiritual Retreats (even if it's just a moment in your yard or a walk around the block)
8) Keep Investing in Yourself
9) Allow Interests to Surface
10) Be Creative (draw, sing, doodle - just release that energy)
These are just a few examples. Which of these (or other) self-care practices appeals most to you? It's all about identifying and integrating the tools that will work best for you and that you will use on a daily basis.
Sometimes the simplest life changes have the most impact. If we practice them every day, all we have to do is invest a small amount of time in ourselves.
What will it take to put self-care at the top of your to-do list?