Better health? Better sleep? Better you? It all starts with stress management.
Who hasn’t experienced a sleepless night due to stress? Or come down with a cold after a tough week at work? Or just been plain grumpy because of it? Stress, if left unchecked, can have detrimental effects on our health, so it’s important to think about strategies for stress management to get a handle on it.
I went from one really stressful job (as a correctional officer) to another really stressful job (as an entrepreneur with 60+ employees). So, I’ve seen stress from both sides: uncontrollable stress that is affected by your surroundings and controllable stress where the buck stops with you. While they both seem difficult to manage, they are absolutely manageable, and managing stress is vital to creating your Best Day Ever. Stress reduction leads to all kinds of benefits, from getting sick less often to sleeping better to being more focused and positive.
These benefits spill into your life in the form of better health, better relationships, and better moods. I don’t want stress to get in the way of all the good things in my life or any of the things I still want to accomplish, so I take action when I see stress creeping into my life.
My top four stress relieving activities are:
1) Actively connecting with nature – Moving my body in nature or taking a hike or walk really helps to get me out of my headspace and into a place of stillness. It’s like a walking meditation. Bonus: moving your limbs helps move your lymph system, which helps to release toxins from the body. Win-win!
2) Talking to a friend – Some people have paid therapists (and I’m a fan of that practice) and some people have a close-knit group of friends. When I worked as a correctional officer, I had long talks with friends over luxurious coffee brunches on the weekends, and now that I’m a working mom, it’s hurried text messages and talks after the kids go to bed. It doesn’t matter how you do it, so long as you verbalize your feelings to help process what’s stressing you out and then finding a way to move beyond it.
3) Finding a spiritual practice – For some, this is church. For others, this is meditation. However it happens, connecting to a bigger universe, discovering your role in it, and trusting that there is good out there is a psychological safety net to fall back on in times of stress.
4) Relaxing into a hobby – For me, my hobby has always been soap making. When I was a frustrated correctional officer, soap making was there for me, and then I turned it into a job. My hobby is still soap making but I’ve expanded my repertoire – you’ll often find me making lip balms, bath fizzies and other toiletries on the weekend. And now, I do it with my kiddos!
You probably already have a few coping strategies of your own, whether or not you realize it. Take a minute to jot down what those strategies are, decide if you need to add some new ones, then be sure to use those strategies whenever you start to feel stressed.