First Steps To Reduce Stress In Your Life
Raise your hand if you experience stress in your daily life. *insert everyone reading this with their hands raised*. Does thinking about how stressed out you are make you even more stressed?
So many people come to me as a health coach with exercise and nutrition goals in mind. Once we start digging deeper into their “why”, we find it is not the lack of physical activity or poor nutrition that stands in their way, but it is the all-consuming stress they carry on their shoulders that prevents their achievement.
With more than half of Americans reporting that they experience stress in their daily lives, we are one of the most stressed-out populations globally. In fact, the World Health Organization is calling stress the “health epidemic of the 21st Century.”
Stress impacts every facet of our lives and our health. In fact, stress is a leading comorbidity to so many chronic lifestyle diseases that impact our health system. Stress reduces our immune system function and contributes to several chronic diseases like cancer, cardiovascular disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), diabetes, and stroke.
My Stress Story
We all experience different types of stress...workplace stress, family stress, medical stress, relationship stress, etc.
As an active duty Army spouse of more than 16 years, I have experienced my fair share of stress. For a long time, I felt as though stress didn’t affect me, that I managed it so well I never experienced any adverse effects. Then, almost overnight, I couldn’t understand why in a single moment I could go from performing a routine task to having an overwhelming feeling of anxiety, and like I couldn’t think straight or complete the task at hand.
At one point, I began experiencing lightheadedness out of nowhere. It was as if I was having a flood of adrenaline rush through my body until I was suddenly having to brace myself on the wall or sit down. Then, I began breaking out in awful, unexplainable hives all over my body.
After numerous trips to the doctor, the only explanation they could give was that it was stress-induced. As someone who has always been physically active and worked hard to maintain a healthy, balanced diet this was a wake-up call. I realized maintaining a healthy lifestyle required so much more than exercising and eating right. It wasn’t until I began investigating my stress that I truly understood the burden I carried around on a daily basis. As I learned more about what my stressors were, I began experimenting with how to deal with them and found techniques I still use each and every day.
The fact of the matter is that stress. is. everywhere. And you know what? It is never going away. There will always be workplace stress. There will always be financial stress. There will always be relationship stress. So, what do we do? How can we take measures to ensure the stress we experience in our own lives doesn’t lead to detrimental effects on our health?
The first step to managing our stress is owning it and recognizing none of us are immune to it. From there we can begin taking steps to manage our stress in a way that leads to continued positive health outcomes. The way we respond to and manage stress is the difference between us surviving or thriving!
How to Start Managing Your Stress
1. Identify your stressors.
Take time to analyze what is going on in your life and what could be causing you the greatest stress. Knowing what causes stress in our lives is the most important step to actually managing that stress. Once you have identified your stressors you can begin exploring different ways to manage it.
2. Explore different stress management techniques.
There are many different tools and techniques proven to help individuals manage and reduce stress in their lives. Diaphragmatic breathing and mindfulness meditation are two of my go-to ways to manage my own stress. Another wonderful stress-relieving habit is keeping a gratitude journal where you can practice the “three good things” exercise. Other options include speaking with a professional who specializes in helping individuals manage their stress. Ask for help! It is okay to say, “I can’t do this on my own.” Talk to family and friends, spend time in nature, take a vacation...these are all great ways to help manage stress. The key here is to find what works best for you.
3. Implement and practice, practice, practice.
Once you have found a stress management tool you feel works best for you, begin implementing that into your daily routine. As we say here at 7Core, practice makes progress. It is so important to continually put into practice the tool you find most helpful. Create your own plan and stick to it. This is what keeps us prepared to combat any stress that comes our way.
When it comes to managing your stress, it is up to you to be purposeful and diligent in recognizing your stressors. As I said earlier, there will always be stress in our lives in one form or another, but it is how we choose to respond and manage it that determines the outcome on our health and wellbeing.
I encourage you to download the infographic that accompanies this blog post, and put it somewhere visible, as a reminder that you owe it to yourself to take charge of the stress in your own life!
If you would like help in starting your journey to successful stress management, I would love to set up a call and help you along the way.
Be healthy be happy be you,
For other creative ways to start managing stress check out these articles: How to Find Quiet in the Chaos and Cultivating Joy and Gratitude Even in the Toughest of Times.