Stress. It’s a word we hear every day and I am sure it means different things to each of us (including our kids). The World Health Organization defines stress as, “a state of worry or mental tension caused by a difficult situation. It is a natural human response that prompts us to address challenges and threats to our lives.” Back in the “early” days, stress was meant to protect us from the dangers out in the world and keep us safe. These days it feels more like a byproduct of our everyday lives. Even the general pace of our society can sometimes (no, probably often at this time of year) feel like it is going too fast for us to process and is one stressful event after another.
Just to be clear, I am talking about the stress we bring on ourselves – the temporary type* that can often be mitigated if we had the ability for “do-overs.” Think about the last time you stopped and realized you were feeling overly stressed. What happened just before that?
- Did you say, “yes” to one or ten more things you knew you didn’t have time for?
- Or did you forget something important and then had to scramble to make it right?
- Did you lose something important?
- Were you late for an appointment?
- Did you stay up later than you knew you should?
All of these, and many more can increase your stress level. Imagine if you could rewind time and try again. Would you be able to identify what got in the way and caused your stress and then be able to prevent it (or at least reduce its impact)? What would that feel like?
Now figure out what you can do to get that feeling.
What ideas did you come up with? I know you are in the mad, almost the holidays rush but, maybe you can make some notes for next year. Trust me, your “future self” will thank you if you leave some hints and actions to take to manage your stress level.
Here are some ideas to think about:
- Get more sleep (dark rooms, lowering lights in the evening and using lamps not overheads)
- Build a self-care toolbox of things that help recharge you and schedule time in for you
- Create routines that work for you and the family
- Limit changes to plans at the last minute – it is okay to say “no”
- Feeling prepared helps melt stress so make a realistic plan and then work it
- Smart tech use – sure the dopamine hit feels good at the time but then that time is gone
- No negative self-talk – your brain believes what it hears
- Declutter the things you no longer need and that only interfere with you being able to find what you need quickly
- Lastly, organize your spaces. Where is the logical spot for that? Where would a hook work for your keys? What would make your life easier and save you time? Add that to your to do list.
When you understand you have options, you can take action. Even baby steps in the right direction, will still get you there.