Stress. When was the last time you said to someone, “I am so stressed!” Last week? Two days ago? Just before opening this post?
We all feel stress occasionally; some of you may be even deal with chronic stress, like in a high-pressure job.
The National Institute on Mental Health defines stress as the brain’s response to any demand. While not all stress is bad–there’s plenty of good stressors in life–NIMH says chronic stress can have a harmful effect on the body.
Practice good self-care when stressed
My niece had her first baby a few days ago. She had a beautiful and healthy boy. As I think about practicing self-care, it occurs to me that being pregnant is a definite stressor, especially on a woman’s body.
My niece was prepared, though, and throughout the pregnancy, she did certain things to minimize–reduce the demands–to ensure her health and her baby’s.
If only I responded to stress in the same fashion.
Even after all these years in recovery from addiction, my reaction to stress usually lines up with the flight or fight pattern inherent in all animals.
So, we moved last week. For those who have moved recently and are young at heart but not so young physically, take heart. The stress of moving did not kill us.
But it did cause an abundance of sore muscles, short fuses and more than one round of hurt feelings.
Honestly, though, had I practiced all of the tips I’m sharing with you, it’s possible that my body could have reacted instinctively, much like my niece’s pregnant body did.
Here are my 11 tips to practice during stressful times
1. Don’t forget to always have snacks and water with you. We found ourselves on the run while house-hunting, and, although missing a few meals isn’t such a bad thing for the waistline, missing nourishment and hydration is!
2. Try to get the normal amount of sleep. I didn’t do so well with this one as we looked for a place to live, although once moving kicked in, I slept like a baby most nights–from sheer physical exhaustion!
3. Don’t make a habit of eating junk food. Here and there is sometimes unavoidable but your body needs real nutrition to ward off the inevitable run-down condition that continual stress can cause.
4. Communicate, communicate, communicate! Stressful situations are often fueled by the frustration of trying to communicate your thoughts or by discovering that you and your partner have a completely different idea about something as simple as whether to cook or go out for dinner. Speak up!
5. Stay grounded–keep up with journaling, meditation, exercise, etc. Somehow, some way, you must stay as regimented as possible with your schedule. For me, my work production suffered during our move, but I faithfully wrote in my journal every single morning. Do whatever you can to maintain a high level of serenity.
6. Take regular breaks. I tend to try to work through stressful times without breaks because if I can get one more thing finished, well then maybe I won’t be so stressed. Take breaks from stress where you can get them.
7. Be mindful of your breathing. Often during our whirlwind moving process, I stopped, took a really huge gulp of air and slowly let it out. This works especially well when you’re trying to go to sleep.
8. Think before you speak. Are you like me in that words tumble out of your mouth crossways when you’re hungry, angry, lonely or tired? Train yourself to filter your thoughts before speaking them.
9. Let your way be yours and others’ be theirs. Can anyone say, “control issues?” I am so guilty of wanting things to be done my way! There is always another way, and usually, that way is in the head of your partner. Listen!
10. Liberally use phrases like thank you, I appreciate you and I love you. Sometimes out-of-the-blue phrases like these diffuse tension so that you can be a forceful team when it comes to dealing with stress.
11. Remember to have fun. One of the gifts of packing and moving–stressfulness aside–is having fun. It is cool to look at your partner at the end of the day, smile and say, “Wow, did we do all of that?”
I’d love to hear some of your methods for handling stress. Share, please, in the comments below.
Photo courtesy of imelenchon