Are there too many demands upon your time? Do you have that panic feeling as though you can’t get through that long to-do list? Does your mind feel as though it’s going to explode? I assure you, there is a way to restore balance.
The downside of being too busy.
The stress that comes from being over busy is a big drain on your energy. It may start to impact all areas of your life including your work, your relationships and your health.
When overstretched we seek comfort and distraction, perhaps in a nice a glass of wine, a big bag of chips or too much surfing online. Some resort to pain relief medication. Anything to numb the pressure and relive stress, but the relief is only temporary.
Constant activity without rest will sooner or later take it's toll. Tiredness is an obvious symptom, as are aches and pains, headaches and mood-swings.
When we’re constantly worrying about what we have or haven’t done and feeling as though we're underachieving, we lose enjoyment of life.
Many years ago, I read a book Future Shock by Alvin Toffler. Written in the 1970's it was about how people will cope psychologically with a future where change happens too fast.
That future is now and his words were extraordinarily insightful because here we are running around like crazy trying to keep up with this momentum of change.
It feels as though we don't have a choice, but we do, and we must choose a different way, if we are to avoid physical and mental imbalance.
So, even though you and I have a long list of things that must get done, ask yourself, does doing it all at 90 miles an hour get you there any faster, or does it just create more stress?
We are far less efficient when stressed
When you remain calm, you are far more productive and efficient. However, in today's fast-paced world staying calm doesn’t come easily as we get sucked into the busyness of the day.
As soon as stress levels are elevated our mindset changes and we put more pressure on ourselves. Yet this inner pressure is really self-driven and becomes habitual.
By learning new health-driven habits, we restore inner balance. We're also able to recognise when stress levels are rising and do something about it.
So, next time you find yourself flying around getting all stressed out and putting yourself under unfair pressure, stop for a moment and try one or more of the following ways for restoring balance in your life.
Three ways to restore balance in your life:
1. Breathe from the heart:
Close your eyes, take a deep breath in and bring your focus of attention to your heart area or the centre of your chest, and breathe out. Now imagine that you are breathing in and out from this heart centre and repeat at least five times or for as long as you are enjoying it!
Pick one of the following words to repeat silently as you are breathing: Calm. Peace. Happy. Blessed. Joy. Relaxed. Quiet. Repeat it silently. When you are ready, open your eyes.
2. Get grounded
Stand upright, let your arms hang by your side and close your eyes. If you choose to sit, let your hands rest in your lap. Bring your focus of attention to your feet. Imagine your feet have roots, and like a tree they are growing down into the earth, creating stability and strength. Give these roots a colour (allow whatever comes to your mind be the colour energy you need).
As you breathe slowly, draw in the energy from the earth. Feel it drawing up into your legs and throughout your body. When you feel calm and peaceful, open your eyes.
3. Notice nature
The idea that nature is an antidote for stress is now widely accepted. It is such a simple and easy way to restore inner balance and promote well-being and can be done anywhere, anytime. Simply observe something in nature.
- Stop, look up at the sky and feel the vastness. Day or night.
- Watch how the clouds move and the shapes they make.
- Look at the contours, colours and textures of a tree.
- Feel the sun and the air on your skin.
- Observe the intricacies of a flower.
This mindfulness exercise takes you out of your head and expands your awareness. Nature is naturally healing and restoring, and this exercise allows us to experience the bigger picture of life. Be curious and just observe without judgement.
It may seem a woo-woo exercise to some but just try it for a few days. Let me know in the comment section below what you enjoy most about this exercise.
Here’s a question for you…
Which one of these three exercises do you like best?
I hope that you've found this useful, leave your comment below.
That feeling of nervousness, palpitations and unease are all possible signs that you could be stressed. These symptoms can be unsettling especially when you're not sure why you would be stressed.
These feelings are very common and can arise from the everyday stress lives most of us lead. Stress can come from our job, our marriage, our relationships, financial crisis, or even health issues.
The good news? Stress is manageable and understanding what stress is will be a good place to start.
In daily life we often use the term “stress” to mean negative situations and so most people believe that all stress is bad, when in fact a certain amount of stress isn’t always a bad thing.
Is a positive motivator.
During exercise, our bodies undergo stress - we rest and rebalance.
Helps us to focus.
Feels exciting - i.e. when we’re actively engaged in sport or falling in love!
Is short-term and something we feel able to cope with.
Improves and enhances our performance – i.e. public speaking.
It interferes with our critical thinking and decreases performance.
When distressed we feel anxious and concerned.
Unable to cope or manage with the situation we’re facing.
Can lead to ill health and mental problems.
Distress can be either short-term or long-term.
Long-term stress can cause a myriad of health and emotional issues and needs to be addressed and if this is you, you'll probably be aware of that already.
Our bodies are not designed to be under the influence of cortisol, which is released in response to stress therefore, it’s imperative that we learn how to reduce stress and how to combat its impact.
Here are three simple yet effective ways to manage 'Dis-stress':
Some people don’t really know what’s causing them stress. They just know they feel stressed out. Keeping a stress diary can be a big help in pinpointing precisely what your stressors are.
This can help you differentiate between the external stressors and the internal stressors in your life. Often we stress ourselves out with our own patterns of thinking.
Identifying which things in your life are stressing you is the first step toward determining how to combat it. For example, if your stress diary reveals that your daily commute is a stressor for you, then consider some ways to reduce that stress.
Maybe you can seek out an alternate route to work. If you're not driving, perhaps you can use the time by reading something uplifting or relaxation audio.
Would carpooling be a possible option for you?
a) Deep breathing is a tremendous aid in relaxation, especially when your out-breath is longer than the in-breath. Once you learn how to breathe deeply, it's a simple technique to employ whenever you feel stressed or anxious.
b) Muscle relaxation is another technique you can use to relieve stress. It doesn't take much for tension to build up in your muscles especially if you sit at a desk all day.
You may find that listening to and following a recorded relaxation technique that talks you through tensing and relaxing your muscles will help you the most.
c) Other relaxation techniques, including yoga, Tai Chi, visualization, meditation, and massage. My favorite, self-hypnosis is great at helping you find more positive thought patterns that will help reduce your stress levels.
Being able to relax is a skill. Contrary to popular belief, it is not something that comes naturally to a lot of people and it may take some time to learn, but it is time well spent.
When the body has suffered from either short-term or long-term stress, relaxation helps to repair the body.
If your stress is coming from your own patterns of thinking, then you can investigate ways to change them. Some people appear to have a “glass half empty” bias on life while others have a “glass half full” approach. Which one are you?
It takes concerted effort to change negative patterns of thinking, but it’s essential if you’re committed to managing stress. For one thing you must be aware of your dominant thoughts. Notice whether you say things such as, “I can’t,” or “Things never work out for me,” or “I’m always messing up,” and so on, and question the validity of these statements.
Also, be aware of when your thoughts are sad or focused upon what you are lacking. Thoughts of a similar nature tend to string together, and it doesn’t take long before these negative thoughts induce stress.
Negative thinking robs you of your happiness and makes life feel like a struggle. People who have a negative bias will notice more unwanted events occurring and often feel as though life has dealt them a bad hand.
To help make positive changes to negative patterns of thinking, one tool that I personally found useful was writing some soothing statements and reading them regularly. I would pin them on the wall, on the fridge, in the car and put little notes in my pocket.
“I prefer feeling calm - I choose to feel calm.”
“I am where I am, and I now choose better feeling thoughts.”
“I like the
feeling of ease in my mind.”
When it comes to the best methods to manage stress, there isn’t a one-size fits all approach and neither is there one specific method.
A combination of ‘tools’ works best and today we’ve just touched on three such methods. We’ll explore other approaches in future posts. Until then I trust that these 3 methods have proved useful.
Do you have any favourite tips to share on how you manage stress? Please comment or pop your questions below.