Do you ever think you have it all together …until you don’t. Do you ever feel like things are going smoothly and then life gets in the way. Do you ever feel on top of the world and then something happens that breaks your heart or stretches you to the brink emotionally? The last couple of weeks of my life has been like this.
Everything was going along well and then my mother in law suffered a massive bleed to the brain and the week dramatically changed course. My husband and I tried to spread our time between work, being there for our son and being with her at the hospital. The stress level was running high, and to be honest still is. Sadly, she recently passed away.
Now the stress is different but still very real. As I was dragging my way through the last couple of weeks I thought about how I could set myself up to better handle the stress.
The following tips that I will share over the next few weeks are some strategies that helped stabilize my energy so I could be there for the people I love and still be capable of doing a great job for my patients. We live in a high paced, high achievement and high energy culture. It is easy to fall victim to over-living and under-appreciating our lives which inevitably leads to a chronic constant stress. When tragedy strikes it can add acute stress on top of this and the combination can lead to out of control stress levels and eventual burnout.
Stress is a common and natural part of our lives, but sustained stress without a clear plan of self-management will lead to burnout. If we do not strategically plan to rejuvenate our emotional and physical lives, our productivity will decrease and our personal joy will evaporate.
The longer we are constantly stressed, the harder it is to shift to a less-stressed mode. Over time, the connections in our brain that produce the feeling of calm become weaker. Our bodies need time to relax and rejuvenate on a regular basis so it can activate the daily restoration process. I will share 10 stress management tips over the next couple of blogs. The following five stress management techniques are designed to help you find a sustainable rhythm in the demands and discord of everyday life.
5 Stress Management Tips
Tip #1: Get Up Early
My favorite and the most important time of my day, starts at the crack of dawn. Every weekday, I wake up at 5:00 am for my hour of energy. It can be tough to drag myself out of bed at that time, but I know how incredibly empowering it is to start the day with exercise, meditation, and journaling.
This time to myself helps me better handle the stress of the upcoming day. I set a solid intention for how I want the day to unfold. Instead of rushing out the door feeling on edge, I have a plan and peace of mind. It is both calming and energizing.
Tip # 2: Do Some Exercise
We know that exercise is so important for our health and well-being, but often struggle to make it a priority. We’ve told ourselves the same excuses so often that we start to believe them. To avoid letting time be an obstacle to your exercise you have to schedule it. Don’t wait for an opening in your day. If you can, try to exercise in the morning because things will happen during the day that can alter your plans to exercise later.
If you feel like you don’t have the energy to exercise, then try to commit to going for a five minute walk or lifting weights for a few minutes. If you can get started you’ll often find some untapped energy and be able to continue a bit longer. The benefits of exercising cannot be overstated. It helps lower your stress levels, improves your mood, and can make you more productive. You’ll be amazed at how quickly your stress levels drop when you begin to make exercise a priority.
A recent study showed that people who exercise feel like they are better able to handle their work life balance. I think this is because when you take the time for something that is healthy for you, you feel encouraged that you are on top of things and that you can handle anything that comes your way.
Tip # 3: Relaxation Techniques
While I have found meditation helpful in reducing my stress and grounding me each day, it was not easy to get into the practice. I’ve heard from many people that meditation doesn’t work for them. They can’t focus their attention for more than a second or they fall asleep while repeating Om. However, I have learned that not only does mediation become easier with practice, but by trying a more active form of meditation, it can help to groove the practice into your life more quickly and successfully.
Tip #4: Preparation is Key
One of the ways you can lower the amount of stress you feel on a daily basis is by being prepared. Being prepared requires some amount of organization, and planning. One way you can do this, is by preparing everything the night before so you don’t have to think of anything the next morning. This preparation can include things such as, laying out the clothes you will wear in the morning, preparing your lunch, and packing your briefcase for the next day.
I am also a firm believer that we must do a brain dump. Get the list of what you need to accomplish out of your head and onto paper. If will be much easier for you to accomplish your tasks that day, if you make a list, and check them off as they are completed.
Tip #5: Do One Thing at a Time
In an effort to juggle our roles as entrepreneurs, spouses, parents, and friends we often try to multitask. We are texting during dinner time, or thinking about a company problem while spending time with a friend. While we may think we are getting things done faster, the research shows that multitasking leads to lower overall productivity.
Try doing just one thing at a time. Really be in that moment, immerse yourself in it and see if it is more enjoyable. Live your life. Really love your life, one moment at a time. Don’t waste your energy trying to do everything at once.
Hopefully these tips will help you to lower your daily stress levels. I will share 5 other great tips in an upcoming blog. Please comment and let us know some of the things you do to reduce stress. And is you found this useful please share with others.
About the Author: Dr. Carolyn Anderson is an eye surgeon who founded Impowerage to raise money for macular degeneration research. She practices cataract surgery in Langley, BC and is a professional speaker who speaks on managing your energy.