Being an adult is hard work and can sometimes come with a lot of stress. With work, family and other obligations that we have to juggle, it’s a struggle not to feel overwhelmed. This is why it’s important to take time out in the middle of all that’s going on, to unplug and unwind. If not, we are heading for stress overload and our mental wellness and physical health can take a hit. So the question is: how do you reduce stress?
Stress management is not about bolting and leaving your responsibilities behind, it’s a skill that requires conscious and consistent effort. Here are a few tips to help.
1. Slow Down
In today’s 24/7 society, it’s easy to think that the world is rushing along at 100 km/h and we are barely able to catch up. Rather than resign to a life on the never-ending treadmill, we should recognise and accept (without guilt) that it is okay to slow down/take things easy. At Avon HMO, one of our favourite tips is to break down seemingly huge tasks into smaller ones. Take emails, for example: just prioritise, don’t try to reply a hundred emails at once if you don’t have to; respond to the most important ones first.
2. Take a Break
Just because you feel lost, doesn’t mean you are. We all need to love ourselves a little bit more. Deliberately plan some real me-time out and hit the refresh button. Meditation (where you sit quietly and focus on one thing), reading, seeing a movie, sports, spending time outside, taking a walk and even prayer can be refreshing. Another tip from one of our experienced mothers is to wake up 30 minutes before the children, lie in bed, breathe deeply for a few minutes and then have a nice hot shower!
3. Open Up
Many times, the approach to dealing with stress is to keep quiet. This never identifies the root of the problem and if you don’t know what the cause of your stress is, how do you deal with it? You are a superhero every day but even Batman has someone he speaks to. Reach out to close friends, family members or even work colleagues to help you. It can help put things in perspective, build up your self-esteem/confidence and receive advice on how to tackle your problems.
4. Don’t be too Self-critical
Constructive criticism can be appropriate, healthy, and helpful at times. However, being overly critical can be de-motivating, especially as it doesn’t teach you anything that you can use in the future. When you’re overly critical, you might place unreasonable expectations on yourself or exaggerate the negatives. Pay attention to the good things about yourself, have a balanced view and keep a sense of humour. It’s always good to laugh – even at yourself. A good way to work on this is to find a mentor; someone who has the skills and traits you would like to emulate and interact with them. Not only will you learn through observation, but your mentor can be a great source of positive reinforcement and guidance.
Yes! Working out frequently is one of the easiest and best ways to relax your body and mind. Studies have proven that exercise will even improve your mood. The key here is to be consistent with it. Try starting with at least 30 minutes, three days a week. Just remember that any form of exercise is better than none at all.
6. Sleep Well and Eat Right
Maintaining healthy eating habits and a balanced diet will help your whole body feel better. Don’t skip meals; hunger and irregular eating habits can alter your mood and increase stress. Also, ensure you sleep between seven to eight hours every day. Sleep deprivation is a known stressor and a good night’s sleep greatly reduces stress. Click here to read more on how to get the right amount of sleep.
7. Swap Unhealthy Coping Methods with Healthy Ones
Think about the ways you’ve tried to cope with stress in the past. Did your methods work? Are they capable of having a positive or negative impact on your overall health? Many people try to cope with stress in ways that compound the problem with activities like drinking, smoking, using drugs, binge eating, and so on. It’s important to find coping strategies that are both productive and healthy and replace the unproductive ones with them.