One of the easiest ways to see the mind-body connection is through the lens of stress.
When things affect us mentally and emotionally, we can see it in our physical health, so it is imperative that we manage stress.
Stress is our body’s attempt to respond to what is happening around us. Losing a job or a loved one, moving or surviving a global pandemic can wreak havoc on our body’s ability to cope with and lessen the negative effects of distress.
When I ask people about their stress relief techniques, quite often they will name one or two activities they do when they’re stressed.
Hopefully, you caught a couple of problems in what you just read.
Problem number one: “One or two activities.”
Any time you read/hear me talking about stress, you will hear this phrase. “Stress management has to be like a toolbox.” There is no way your physical toolbox could serve you well if it only had a hammer in it.
Different jobs require different tools.
I mean really...how many types of screwdrivers are there??
This stands true for stress management as well. There is nothing wrong with having one or two of your favorite go to things, but add to that list as much as you possibly can.
Also, have stress management tools that span several time frames. For instance, have things that you can do in five or ten minutes (like prayer or meditation) all the way up to taking two weeks of vacation off work. The more tools you have at your fingertips, the better.
Problem number two: “When they are stressed.”
It’s not uncommon for people to wait until they are stressed to begin to manage it. I call it the “Tylenol effect.” Most people take Tylenol as a reaction to pain. I have a headache, so I take a pain reliever.
If you wait until you are stressed to manage it, you’re already behind and playing catch up.
Managing stress has to be like putting on deodorant or taking vitamins. It has to be proactive.
If you are attending to your stress DAILY and PROACTIVELY, big stressors are easier to cope with when they come along.
As an example, I am very purposeful about managing my stress. On most days I would put myself at about 1 or 2 on the 1-10 stress scale. As a working adult, I don’t know if my stress is ever at a 0, nor would I want it to be. We need a little bit of stress to keep us sharp, but I digress. When my mother passed away a few years ago that was a huge stressor. During the time of her illness and passing away I would have rated my level at about 7 or 8. That’s a 6 point jump from my normal daily number. Imagine if my daily rating had been a 5. The new stressor would have been overwhelming and sent me far over a 10. Managing stress daily has got to be a priority for overall health and wellness.
So where to start? Here are some prompts to help:
Start by filling your toolbox. Remember to find activities that need varying amounts of time.
- What daily activities can I do towards reducing the negative effects of stress?
- What longer activities can I plan for between now and the end of the year (ex. Vacation, running a marathon, etc.)?
Assess where you are.
- On a scale of 1-10 (where 10 is highly stressed) how stressed am I feeling at this moment?
- What is the nature of that stress?
- What about this stressor is in my control?
- What will it take (in my control) for me to reduce that number by one or two points?
Create action steps.
- What can I do right now to reduce the feeling of being stressed?
- What are the components of my short term and long term stress management plans?
- What can I do to keep me accountable to my stress management plan?
Doing these will help you develop a stress management plan that will contribute to your overall wellness.
Special thank you to Tracie, our ClubMäksē
Mental Health Coach for today's blog post. Like this post? Then you'd love ClubMäksē