We live in a very different world today than our parents inhabited. Today, both parents work, things are far more expensive including childcare and housing, jobs are more stressful, the rate of change in industries and companies is unprecedented, there is no such thing as a permanent job, social media pressures are everywhere, technology is changing how we live our lives, uncertainty is everywhere and rates of depression and anxiety are at levels never before witnessed in our world.
The level of stress that people are experiencing on a daily basis is increasing, so it is super important that you have some tools in your toolbox that you can use when you do experience this stress.
Here are my top 3 ways of dealing with stress.
Say No More Often
In my view, we (as humans) take on too much to do. We over commit and over estimate how much stuff we can do and get done fully. Humans are no good at multi tasking, despite what various blogs might say but trying to spread your focus across a number of tasks at the same time results in a lack of true focus across the board. A single pointed focus on a single task until completion is a deeply satisfying exercise.
Coupled with multi tasking we have an innate desire to please people. I am only now, in mid life stage, learning the benefit of saying No to things. Having the confidence and awareness of your own capacity to do tasks is the foundation to learning to say No to additional requests from other people to do stuff. Learn to say No way more often, do less, and focus on fewer things.
Exercise is a fantastic way of releasing built up stress. When you are stressed, signals are sent from your hypothalamus and pituitary glands to your adrenal glands to release cortisol which is your flight or fight hormone.
Cortisol triggers the rapid production of glucose so that you have a ready to go supply of energy, remember you are in flight or fight mode. If you are stressed and producing cortisol but are just sitting at your desk, you are not using this glucose, the body has to find ways of storing this glucose to maintain a healthy blood sugar balance. Exercise provides a great way to use this glucose efficiently, reduce your stress levels and release the lovely endorphins that make you feel good.
This is the easiest one of the 3 to adopt and execute on. Upon waking up, sit up in your bed, close your eyes, sit and observe your thoughts passing by. Realise that you are not your thoughts, they are temporary and always pass. Be aware of your breath and use a settling sound to calm your mind. Do this on a daily basis for 10-15 minutes to build the habit and over time this will become your real armour to help you manage and buffer against the daily stress of life.
Read Bliss More by Light Watkins for a primer on building this simple daily habit.
Yours in health and happiness,
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