The good news is, all stress is not all bad. Humans developed stress responses as we evolved to help us in times of extreme danger. If we were being chased by a predator the ability to survive the next 30 seconds took precedence over the need to digest food, reproduce, worry about our immune system or think about anything other than escaping. In these circumstances our blood was diverted to the areas of our body needed for us to have the best chance of immediate survival, our legs and arms, the fight, flight, freeze part of our brain and our focus on what is immediately impacting us. We still need this reaction for immediate physical danger.
Our issue with stress in the modern world is too often the stress response is triggered by on-going situations, which while important to us, do not benefit from our ancient physical response. You may want to run away when you face a negative situation, but in most cases that doesn’t address the issue. When multiple people and situations have claims on your time, when you are unwell and/or caring for someone who is unwell it is important to have some stress management tools in your tool kit to break the stress response and ensure a better outcome for all involved.
Here are some tips which you may find helpful in managing stress in your life:
- Get the best quality sleep you can (see my free e-book on sleep tips).
- Breathe. Even if you only have ten seconds, breathing slowly in and out while focusing on nothing but that breath can have a beneficial effect as it can interrupt the fight/flight/freeze mechanism of the stress response.
- Go for a walk, even just stepping outside if you cannot be away for long.
- Read an uplifting story into which you can escape.
- Listen to music which you find soothing.
- If you can get time off, take a day for yourself.
- Confide in a close friend who is a support and has your back and understands your need to vent.
- Have a massage (while a spa is nice, if your budget doesn’t stretch that far and you have a partner or friend who is willing, learn some basic massage skills and practice on each other).
- Mindfulness & Meditation. These terms are intertwined, incorporating both or either into your life, in my opinion is worthwhile.
– Mindfulness is about developing presence of mind and not spending time ruminating about past events you cannot change, or worrying about events in the future which may or may not occur. It doesn’t mean you don’t plan for the future; it does mean you don’t waste effort worrying about it. My kids used to call me Xena Worrier Princess (so mean!). They helped me see that worrying never achieved anything.
– Meditation is a practice which can change your brainwaves and induce feelings of peace, calm and well-being.
Give mindfulness and/or meditation a try, they really work. No mind is too busy. Start small by simply following your breath in and out for 30 seconds. Will your mind wander? Yes, not a problem, when you notice your mind has wandered, bring it back and continue to track your breath.
Don’t expect to be proficient on your first attempt at meditation. You would not expect to run a marathon the first day you took up running, so don’t expect to be a master mindfulness practitioner/meditator when you first start. The good news is the benefits will appear within days. I have listed some sites you may find useful at the end of this article.
If you are caring for a family member who has chronic fatigue, they may also benefit from some of these ideas. They will certainly benefit from having a carer who is able to reduce their own stress levels and so will you.
If you’d like more information about how health coaching can help you make meaningful lifestyle changes that work best for your values, strengths and circumstance contact Annette for a discovery chat.