We all have it, no matter where we are in life. Money, kids, jobs, the future… seems like everything these days is stressful! Some people have balked when I’ve mentioned how stressed I feel all the time – after all, I have no children, still live in an apartment, & have a stable job. Obviously, I couldn’t begin to feel the stress that those recently unemployed thanks to the economy, but c’mon! How can we possibly quantify someone else’s stress? Between college loans & other debt, thinking about moving, & just starting out in the so-called real world, I think most 20-somethings can relate! Just listen to the news or read a paper, & no matter how great your day might have been, you’ll pretty much feel the doom & gloom down to your very bones!
I won’t list all of the stressful things in my life here, but it’s a pretty long list. Some of it is my own doing, but some of it are things completely out of my control. Life is stressful! I attended a stress management workshop last week, & it was pretty fantastic. Since we all have so much toxic waste in our lives, I thought I’d share some of the things I learned with you!
» Stressless vs. stress less. You’ll never get rid of it all, but you can have less of it!
» All illness, in some part, is caused by stress. First the body whispers (making it hard to fall asleep), then it speaks (insomnia), then it SHOUTS (causing you to fall asleep at the wheel)! Pay attention to your stress so your body never has to shout!
» As your responsibilities increase (any change to any part of your life!) needs more stress management. If you can’t handle your stress now, what makes you think you’re up to more of the same?
» Create a toolbox for stress reduction: yoga, playing with your pet, laughing with your whole body, meditation, taking time for yourself NO MATTER WHAT, anything that lowers your stress levels. (Here’s a list of 50 ways to beat stress!)
» Make sure you’re getting enough sleep – some people need seven, others need nine or even ten! & remember, quality is actually better quantity – you could stay in bed for twelve hours, but if you’re not reaching that good, deep sleep, you’ll never feel rested! Try establishing a good sleep routine – maybe take a bath, do a little bit of yoga, read for twenty minutes, & then turn out the lights. You did it as a child – why wouldn’t you do it now?
» Stop striving for perfect: take the word “should” (I should do something today) out of your vocabulary, & replace it with “choose” (I choose to do something today). Don’t make yourself a victim of your own life!
» Remove this logic from your life: “They want me to do this so I have to…” See above! Choose to do it or not & accept the consequences of your choice! What will happen if you tell your boss you don’t want that extra task? If you tell your sister you don’t want to get together this weekend?
» Spend as much on your inside as you do your outside. Think about it: how much money do you spend on your clothes, skin, hair, etc? So why is $50 a month too much for that yoga class you’ve always wanted?
» Give yourself permission: What do I need? How can I get it?
» Above all, remember this: Stress is not what happens to you, but what you tell yourself happens to you. Our presenter gave us this scenario: Your house burns down. No one is hurt. Everything you own has been destroyed. How do you look at it? That your life is horrible & over, or that you’re lucky that your family made it out okay? Of course it’s a stressful situation, but don’t create more stress for yourself by only seeing the negative!
What was great about the workshop was that our presenter was completely genuine – she has stress in her life, & acknowledges that life is a work in progress. She also stayed away from what she termed “fluff” self-help, & everything she presented was based in research. She gave us some great book recommendations, but mentioned that each book fits each person differently – but when you’re looking for self-help books, be sure to read the books written by therapists, doctors, or scientists. Don’t get sucked into the self-help myth a la Bridget Jones!!
I have a lot of work to do! Even though a lot of this seems like common sense, if we know this stuff, why aren’t we doing it? I’m going to take the following steps to try & limit my stress:
» At least ten minutes of daily meditation.
» Make yoga a non-negotiable part of my day.
» Actually taking the breaks I’m given at work, & relaxing during them.
» Attached to the above: during my afternoon break, starting a tea ritual.
» Creating a sleep routine of gentle stretching, quiet reading with aromatherapy, & turning out the lights by 11:00 each night.
What are you going to do to limit your stress this week?
Actually, I’ve stopped reading & listening to most news; when something big happens (like the swine flu craze), I’m bound to find out from someone. I just don’t need the constant reminder of all the bad things happening in the world!