by Susan Creal
It’s Monday morning, the alarm screams in your ear, you jolt out of bed. You quickly shower, feed the cat, let the dog out, and try to convince your child he has to get up for school. You have an important presentation to give, so you get out your best suit. While putting your nylons on, you notice you have a run without an extra pair around and the pant suit you would have worn is still at the dry cleaners! This sets you
back. You now have to stop at the store on the way to work to pick up a pair of hose! While putting on your suit, you rush to the kitchen to make breakfast. Your child is having a tantrum, your cell phone is ringing and you spill oatmeal all over your suit. What a way to start the week!!
All of the hustle and bustle we go through each day leads to undue stress. How do you know that stress is taking over your body? What are the symptoms? Here are a list of tell tale signs that stress could be taking over YOUR body:
Do you suffer from any of the following?
• Poor concentration and increased irritability
• Drinking excess caffeine or alcohol or smoking more
• Not being able to sleep well
• Palpitations of the heart, a ‘lump’ in the throat or stomach or dry mouth
• Always feeling like something needs to be done and that you cannot simply sit and relax
• Cravings for sweets or other carbohydrates
• Aches and pains
• Are you sick more often than you would like?
Do any of these symptoms pertain to you? Have you been ignoring them and hoped they would simply disappear? Read to learn some tips on how to keep them at bay?
For starters, I am a firm believer in getting your exercise. Make sure it is part of your life. If it is impossible to fit it in everyday, then fit it in at least 3-4 times per week. Your body will thank you for it! Getting at least 20-30 minutes of walking, running, weight training, yoga.. Etc. will make you feel increasingly better while your stress levels decrease. Schedule it in your weekly planner and stick to the appointment!
Keeping a diary is also VERY therapeutic. In the diary, write about the times, places and events where people tend to make you feel stressed. What was the circumstance? Why did the event make you feel stressed? Analyze your entries after a few days and try to see it there is a pattern forming. Are the triggers personality conflicts? Have you been asked to do too much? Are there time pressures? Once identified, you can implement the appropriate strategies to lessen your stress levels.
Try talking with a friend! Getting out what is bothering you is also incredibly helpful. Venting to someone who will truly listen is incredibly valuable.
Schedule breaks in your day. If you know your day will be hectic from morning until night, get up 15-20 minutes earlier and begin your day slowly. Take a walk, do some stretching, yoga, meditation, journaling…anything that will set your mind in a positive frame set.
Understand what it means to relax. Many people don’t understand how to do this. Deep breathing techniques are incredibly helpful. Try slowly inhaling while counting to five; hold your breath for five seconds, then breath out slowly. Repeat this up to 10 times when stress levels are rising! Your body will love the relief it gets!
Take mini stretch breaks! If you are at a desk all day, take a walk down the hall and stop and stretch your body. If you can’t leave your desk and are in need of instantaneous stress relief, try keeping your shoulders level ant try to touch each shoulder with your ear. Look right, up at the ceiling, down at the floor and then rotate each shoulder in a circle. Repeat this about 5 times. Open and close your jaw widely after each time. Stress can cause tension in the jaw area.
For a full body release, try tensing all of the muscles in your body simultaneously, hold for 5 seconds and then release. Feel every muscle tighten
up.. your eyes, your cheeks, your stomach, your biceps.. etc. Squeeze and hold and then release while exhaling.
One last tip to help you is to GET ORGANZIED! Things tend to be tossed everywhere and inevitably important items get misplaced which adds more stress! If you get organized or de-clutter your workspace, you will feel more in control. Clutter creates confusion and a sense of loss of power. You don’t need that right now!! Take the few minutes it takes to tidy up a bit.
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