Stress is a killer. It’s that simple. It might seem like you have no options, but the reality is that you do. With that in mind, let’s look at how to discern how you can best reduce the stress in your life. We’ll start out easy and move into the more challenging areas:
- Exercise. This is basic. Exercise reduces the stress load by burning it off.
- Eat nourishing foods. The healthier your diet, the better equipped your body is to cope with stress.
- Get enough sleep. If you’re overworked and running from one thing to another, make a list of what you need to get handled the next day right before you go to bed. Chances are you will quit waking up in the middle of the night with a long to-do list running through your brain.
- Drink water. Water flushes the toxins from your body. Stress creates more toxins. Drink water.
- Meditate. If you don’t know how, check out what’s available on YouTube or at your local library. If you want a more personal approach, find a teacher who will help you.
- Slow down. Make a list of all that you do and rank everything on it by A) How much you enjoy it, and B) How much it stresses you out.
- Next, find solutions for some of the stressors. If you can’t see your way to solutions, ask for help. Often we’re too close to see what actually can be done. Even if the suggestions aren’t workable, one might be the seed of your eventual solution.
- Take the least enjoyable and most stressful item off of your plate. Often we find that our jobs fit that description and while it would be great if we could just walk away, that isn’t always practical, but we can look at ways to make our job more enjoyable and/or less stressful. We can also plan our exit which often gives us a bit more control and a sense that things will improve. In the meantime, take the next item that fits the criteria off your plate.
- Journaling is a great way to identify what you like about your current situation and what you don’t. Then you can journal about what you think you’d like to be doing. Somewhere in the middle you’ll find what you next step can be. That is exactly how I became a health coach.
- Use this exercise regularly to find the stress-causing factors in your life. They do change, you know.
A word about taking something off your plate … ladies. Women have a tendency to say yes far too often, feeling it’s their job to take care of everything and everyone. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve heard, “But, if I don’t do it, it won’t get done!”
So what? Unless it’s a matter of life and limb, or something so important that you couldn’t stand it if it didn’t get done, let it go. You do know that volunteer coordinators know exactly who will say yes the easiest, and who will say yes if approached in a certain way and that they go to the easiest people first? Don’t be that person!
Volunteering is wonderful! It’s amazing! It’s a gift to the giver and the receiver! Unless it’s just too much. So, volunteer when it’s the best fit for your life. Do not overcrowd your plate or you will pay the price down the road with chronic illness and potentially early death. Yikes!
- Get out and get moving! On the flip side is the stress from a lack of outside stimulation. For some people going to work is the only outside activity they have. This can be incredibly stressful as well. Research shows that people who are connected to others, who have healthy social relationships are happier, healthier and live longer.
- It can be challenging to find friends when you are on your own, either without children or with grown children. Kids make it easy: Parents tend to congregate where there kids are, and conversations strike up organically. What can you do when you’re not at that stage of your life?
- Try out new churches. If you find one that resonates, join some of the classes or groups that they offer or volunteer to help out.
- Volunteer at an animal shelter, library, hospital or performance venue.
- Join library book clubs.
- Take classes (fitness, art, dance) through your local park district or college.
- Check out MeetUp.com for groups with similar interests. There are some very active groups that hike, walk, bike, kayak, visit theaters, concerts, symphonies, go to wine tastings, restaurants … the list is endless!
Always remember that it takes time and courage to form friendships. Relax and enjoy the activities that you’ve chosen and when you meet someone you think might be a friend outside of the class, consider inviting them to meet for coffee. Over time, friendships will begin to form.
Whatever your first step is in reducing the impact of stress on your body, I urge you to begin today, right now, like immediately. This is important stuff and it will impact your health for years to come.
If you, or someone you know, would benefit from a Strategy Session, in person or over the phone, just visit my website at www.healthworkskc.com/
Thinking peaceful thoughts!
Nancy Oglesby, the Practical Health Coach
simplifying healthy lifestyle changes