Sometimes, it seems like talking about how busy we are is almost a badge of honor. But there’s a difference between being super busy and under the gun and feeling overwhelmed all the time. When you can’t escape from stress it can become a physical problem, and may lead to:
- Muscle pain
- High blood pressure
- Weakened immune system
- Heart disease
Unfortunately, letting go of stress is a hard thing to do. Even when we know what we should do, we seem to have a hard time doing it. To illustrate, a study conducted by the American Psychological Association showed that people disregard what their doctors tell them about the impact of stress on their health. Yikes!
The truth is, we all need to take a good look at ourselves and take action to boost our wellbeing in all areas of our lives. If you are experiencing chronic stress, you very possibly may be experiencing other health issues. So here are some simple things you can do to stop the cycle and start getting healthier.
1. Cut back on commitments. Being asked to help makes you feel good. You feel needed and valued. But saying yes to too many things can lead to overwhelm… and stress. Instead of focusing on the good you’re doing, you’re struggling to balance all the balls you have in the air.
If the projects you’ve said yes to are work-related, talk to your supervisor to get a handle on which are most urgent. That will help you to prioritize and take off some of the stress. As for activities out of work, look closely at what is most important to you, then beg off or ask for help with the others. Sometimes you just have to tell people that you’ve taken on too much and need a break. And for now, stop saying yes until you feel like you’re back in control of your life.
2. Ask for help. The people who care about you are there for more than just the good times, so don’t be afraid to ask them for help. You’ll be amazed at how many people can relate to what you’re going through, and they may have good ideas for how they can support you, or tips on what has helped them in the past.
3. Do something good for your health. Committing to one small healthy habit may help combat the effects of stress and put you on a path toward taking more health-enhancing steps in the future. Start simple by committing to drinking more water or cutting out caffeine or alcohol. Take a daily 15-minute walk to clear your head and get some fresh air and exercise. Add fresh fruit to your diet. You will be surprised by what a big difference it makes.
4. Get better sleep. A lack of sleep taxes your body and adds to your sense of stress. It also creates an endless loop, as the more you worry about lack of sleep, the harder it is to get to sleep. Better sleep habits can make a big difference. Try going to sleep at the same time every night and waking up at the same time every day. Make sure your room is dark, cool, and quiet. Turn off the TV and your devices two hours prior to going to bed.
5. Add meditation. Meditation has been proven to help lower stress levels and clear the mind. There are plenty of apps, books, and videos to help you learn the basics. Adding just ten minutes a day of meditation can make a big difference.
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