#TryItTuesday: Managing Stress and Finding Balance
Stress, stress everywhere! April is Stress Awareness month, and today we are going to take a quick look at what stress is, signs of stress and some positive approaches to managing stress.
What Defines Stress?
Stress is your body’s response to change. Stress can be the result of life events that are beyond your control, or stress can be the result of daily "hassles" that build up until they can be overwhelming. When you are stressed, your body responds as though you are in danger. It makes hormones that speed up your heart, make you breathe faster, and give you a burst of energy. When this happens, it is called the fight-or-flight stress response.
Some stress is normal and even useful. It can help if you need to work hard or react quickly. For example, it can help you win a race or finish an important job on time.
But if stress happens too often or lasts too long, it can have harmful effects, such as headaches, an upset stomach, back pain, or trouble sleeping. Stress can weaken your immune system, making it harder to fight off disease. If you already have a health problem, stress may make it worse. It can make you moody, tense or depressed. Your relationships may suffer, and you may not do well at work or school.
What You Can Do About It
The good news is that you can learn ways to manage stress.
Let’s talk about the challenge of balance. We all have many demands on our lives. Even though the demands of family, work and friends may be rewarding and satisfying, finding a balance can sometimes be challenging. It’s very easy to let the needs of life take over, leaving no time for ourselves. Learning to recognize where our life may have some imbalances can be a key to a more balanced (less stressed-filled) life.
If you are finding yourself a bit stressed, ask yourself these questions:
- Are friends and family complaining about the long hours you are spending at work?
- Do you frequently bring work home from the office?
- Do you feel guilty about taking vacations?
- Do you get regular exercise?
- Do you do “fun” things for yourself every week?
- Are you spending as much time as you would like with the important people in your life?
- Do you frequently forget important dates or appointments?
- Are you constantly late for activities?
Often with a few slight changes, we can achieve a more balanced and healthy lifestyle. Here are some steps to take.
Keep a Log/Schedule
Track everything you do for one week. Include work-related and non-work-related activities. After you see your patterns, decide where to make adjustments. Cut or delegate activities you don’t enjoy, you don’t have time for, or you do only out of guilt.
Manage Your Time with Care
Organize household tasks efficiently. Doing one or two loads of laundry every day rather than saving it all up for your day off, and running errands in batches rather than going back and forth several times from your home are good places to begin.
Rethink Some Standards — Like Cleaning
An unmade bed won’t alter the course of your life. If this is an especially busy life season, do what needs to be done and let the rest go. If you can afford it, pay someone else to clean your house.
You Nurture Others — Don't Skimp on Yourself
You can’t have a job, family and friends without nurturing yourself. So try and set aside some time each day for an activity you enjoy.
Set Aside Time For Recreation — and Days Off
Turn the cell phone to airplane mode, power down the computer and turn off the TV. Discover activities you can do with your friends, family, such as playing a game or going for a walk.
Try and schedule some of your routine chores on workdays so that your days off are more relaxing. Remember, having your life in balance takes time, but offers great rewards!