Have all your resolutions fallen by the wayside? Do you feel like you are back to your old habits whether they help you or not? Are you feeling stressed out because you were so determined three weeks ago to eat healthier, work out, lose weight, not yell at the kids, get more sleep, get more organized etc.?
You are not alone. The stress feels real as well as the disappointment of feeling like you are not able to make the changes you desire. While our circumstances will change from day to day, and week to week, the feeling of being stressed out is with us to stay. Or is it? Have you ever thought that you are too stressed? Have you ever wondered if some stress was ok, but maybe you need to manage it better?
What if today, you decided that the most important thing out of all those “resolutions” you made was to simply learn how to manage you- manage your stress levels more effectively.
When we can manage our stress well, nearly everything else begins to improve. When we are not walking around tense, frustrated, stressed and irritable, but rather we are feeling calm, in control, present, focused and relaxed, our brain and body work better allowing us to accomplish much of what we set out to do.
Here’s 10 tips to get you started on the path to less stress, and enjoying better health and wellbeing:
1. Start and end your day with big deep breaths- This habit helps you to feel more calm by accessing your parasympathetic nervous system, also known as “rest and digest.” This is also good to start practicing several times throughout the day as well.
2. Plan and take a 10-30 minute brisk walk daily. Moving your body and getting good blood flow to your brain promote happy brain chemicals that serve to make you feel well. The change of scenery especially away from screens is also beneficial.
3. Find your sense of humor. When a little thing goes wrong, pause and laugh. Laughing put us in a better mood and releases endorphins. While you are at it, find some funnier friends to hang out with who also have a good sense of humor!
4. Learn how to Tap- Not necessarily talking dance here, but that’s good too. There are different types of tapping but even bilateral stimulation from crossing your arms and tapping each shoulder with the opposite hand can feel calming. There’s other tapping techniques like EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) that are easy to learn as well.
5. Start Journaling- This easy to do exercise for your mind and wrist can go a long way to identify your stressors, record your thoughts and feelings and sort of “get it all out” on paper so things are not ruminating in your brain taking you in a downward spiral.
6. Question your Thoughts. Instead of letting your thoughts run amok- our brain will believe whatever we think over and over regardless of whether it is true, start to question negative and troubling thoughts by asking, “is that true?” Then ask “Can I know with absolute certainty my negative thought is true? If the answer is no, consider other possibilities.
7. Listen to Music- Music can be significantly mood altering, so if you are feeling stressed consider what genre you think will be most uplifting and beneficial. Sometimes a little classical, jazz, hip hop or faith based music can be exactly what we need!
8. Talk It out with a trusted friend, or family member. Are you needing to share what is going on that is stressing you out? Consider if your stress is coming from an ongoing unresolved situation with a family member, friend or coworker. Do you need to have a meaningful and honest conversation with them about your thoughts, feelings or needs?
9. Try Havening. While the science does not seem to have fully caught up with how/ why it works, I am happy to share from both personal and professional experience this easy to learn technique can work great to induce a feeling of calm, and relaxation.
10. Get a professional massage, take a hike in nature or find some outdoor green space. Ideally these would all occur weekly however engage in what you can as time and money allow. Being out in nature seems to have a stress melting affect for many of us, and who doesn’t love a weekly or bimonthly professional massage?
Lastly, If you find your feelings of stress to be intense, chronic, or troubling, it may be time to seek the services of a professional counselor or therapist, life coach or other professional who can help you manage your stress levels more effectively. Chronic stress robs us of health and happiness so we at Live Well Kitsap encourage you to make stress management your priority this year!