Unmanaged stress affects us in many ways, as this photograph illustrates. You can feel tired, agitated, headachy, irritable, weepy, foggy or depressed.
In my experience in teaching workshops on stress management, I emphasize a couple of things -
- stress is a part of living - things happen
- recognize what you have control over - this is crucial to change and management
- analyze how you spend your time to see how you can best use the hours you have
- find the right outlet for releasing stress that works for you
We live in a fast paced world. In 1945 the average adult had 5.2 hours of media exposure and in 2014 that increased to 9.8 hours daily. Clearly, that is a lot of imaging to process, and when combined with vocal communication we are at risk for brain processing overload.
The problem with so much stimulation is it raises the body's stress response, Chemicals like cortisol release to help prepare you to react. But much of what we face is not something that needs a reaction in the way that cortisol is meant to be used.
Here are some tips for getting your stress response under control:
- look at how much time you spend on social media
- replace some of your social media time with quiet or a physical activity
- experiment with various ways of relaxing and find what's right for you - hobby, quiet, meditation, yoga, dancing, guided meditation, running, swimming, prayer, talking, etc.
- eliminate stimulants if you are using them for energy
- avoid chronic rushing - it's very stressful
- eat simple whole foods and do not skip meals
- connect often with people you care about and who care about you
- keep your home in order and make your bedroom a sanctuary
- get outdoors every day, no matter the weather, and breathe
As you can see, there are many ways and habits that can make a busy life more relaxed and less stressful. As you look at this list, you may see some areas that can use a tune-up in your life. Give them a try. Avoiding chronic unmanaged stress can keep you healthier and out of the doctor's office and will make you a much happier person at the end of the day.