You don’t need to make big changes to bring more balance to your life. Building short enjoyable activities into your day can recharge your batteries, improve clarity and focus, and help build more positive interactions in the workplace and beyond.
We all go through times of feeling stressed – when we feel under mental or emotional pressure. It may be that we have to meet a deadline, or perhaps care for a sick family member. The most common stressors include work, relationships, and money. Everyone reacts differently to stress and experiences different stressors, or things that cause stress. It’s important to realize that stress can affect how you feel, think, and behave and can also impact physical functioning.
Common signs of stress include worry and anxiety, negative thinking, sleep issues, loss of appetite, and difficulty with focus. Prolonged stress over time can negatively impact our immune system by releasing hormones that interfere with effective functioning of our immune cells. These biochemicals can affect how we feel and behave. Serotonin, for example, helps us to feel calm and centered. Dopamine gives us energy and helps regulate motivation. Cortisol is known as the “stress hormone.” It can be helpful in short does, as it controls the fight or flight response, but too much over time can take a negative toll on our bodies and mind.
Positive emotions increase serotonin and vice versa. Stress and a bad mood increase cortisol and vice versa. Dopamine provides energy and feelings of capability.
It is worth taking the time to learn different strategies and techniques for managing your stress before there are serious consequences for your mental and physical well-being.
Plug energy drains. What are energy drains? Energy drains are anything that increases feelings of stress for you. They can be environmental – clutter and disorganization, repairs, or tasks that need to be done. They can be relational – someone in your life who you find continuously draining, an unresolved conflict, or maybe you struggle with saying no to others. Maybe you don’t get enough sleep, or eat too much of the wrong kinds of food. There are a multitude of things that can take energy away from us.
You either reduce stress with energy deposits or increase stress with energy drains. Some people expose themselves to constant energy drains. To reduce stress, you must seek to reduce things that sap your energy.
Drain – No time to exercise.
Deposit – Scheduling time on your calendar as you would any commitment.
Drain – Too much sugar.
Deposit – Reducing sweets and increasing fruit
Drain – Procrastination.
Deposit: Dealing with what needs to be handled.
What are energy drains for you? (Overscheduling, not paying bills on time, email or social media overload?) Think of something that is currently draining your energy? What could you do instead?
• Cultivate quiet daily.
When stress increases and life speeds up, making a conscious effort to have a daily quiet time can help to slow you down, and maintain perspective. Quiet time is a mini-vacation for your body and mind that can help you to put things in perspective. Stress, tension and anxiety take a toll on your body and emotions. Studies show that taking time out to meditate, pray, read, think, or just “be” can improve both mental and physical health
A very effective and simple tool to use when you feel stressed or anxious is deep, conscious breathing. Take 3 slow, deep, and exaggerated breaths, breathing in through the nose and out through the mouth. Count 5 on the inhale, pause, and count 5 on the exhale. This simple practice can help calm you and bring you into the present moment any time.
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