Welcome to the final and ideally most useful portion of this series. Just about a month ago, as we were approaching the holidays (historically the most fast paced, bang your head against the wall and take shots of peppermint schnapps season) I introduced the concept of stress and decided to offer a fun series of posts on the topic. Since my goal with this blog is to provide you with the fundaments of what it takes to build health and beauty from the inside out, this is a very appropriate topic. Now that we are in January (historically the most “I’m going to be a new me” season) it seems appropriate to share some information on what you can actively practice in your life to be a better stress manager, and thus be healthier and younger longer.
But before we go there – get yourself caught up just in case you missed the previous posts:
Stress Management Part 4 – Techniques to Manage
So have you ever found your mind racing, heart beating, body sweating over something and someone looks at you funny and says “stop stressing.” And then did you punch them or just think about it? Cleary just staying “stop it” to a true reaction to stress is as effective as stoking a cozy campfire with a gentle gust of wind. It only makes it worse. So here is what the professionals say. I didn’t make this up; it’s from a text book. I just translated it a little to make it more fun
Strategies to Reduce Stress: essentially, there are 3 ways to work with this.
1 – Environmentally: Physically remove what is causing the stress.
- Time management (Prioritize – what must get done?)
- Plan ahead (don’t get caught off guard)
- Assertiveness training (learn how to say no)
- Conflict management (don’t keep it bottled up, but don’t punch someone in the face either)
- Distraction (do a puzzle – really? That’s directly from the text book)
2 – Physiological: Address the physiological response.
- Meditation (Zen in and Zone out)
- Visual imagery (Calgon – take me away, for real please)
- Soothing music (Try a yoga station on Pandora)
- Humor (Comedy channel, SNL, Tommy Boy)
- Prayer (I think this is why my aunt looks 20 years younger)
- Exercise (best ever! 45 min a day = 3 hours increased productivity!)
3 – Cognitive: Develop effective coping skills.
Cognitive restructuring and self-acceptance (you might want to see a professional for help with that, sounds serious 😉 But here’s my take on “self-acceptance.” Through years of consoling girlfriends, coworkers and clients, I’ve learned that we ladies can be nasty. And you know who we’re the worst to? Ourselves. Most of us have higher expectation of ourselves than anybody else (and quite frankly if you don’t, you may want to look into that as well. Please don’t expect more from others than you are willing to give). But the point is: we say things to ourselves that we would never, and/or should never say to another living human being. Have you ever thought:
- “oh – why bother, you’ll fail anyway…”
- “You’re such a moron, why would you do that?”
- “OMG – you look so fat, you should just stay in tonight.”
- “Of course that didn’t work, you’re an idiot”
- “Thank goodness for makeup because that face is ugly.”
- “You are such a loser; it’s no wonder that happened to you.”
Have you ever said any of those things to anybody else? I hope not. Have you ever said them to yourself? Perhaps?
Stop setting yourself up to fail. Stop expecting more from yourself than is reasonable. Start treating yourself the way you would treat somebody you respected. If you treat yourself terribly because you don’t respect yourself, define what you don’t like and fix it. You can do that.
I challenge you to do this.
Make a mental note (or physical if you keep a journal) of all your self chatter in a day. Every time you catch yourself saying/thinking something negative — recondition yourself to flip it around and say the opposite. I know this is not a new concept but people say to do it because it works. So instead of that nasty list above, it would sound like this:
- “You’ve got this…you will succeed”
- “That didn’t work, but I’m smart, so let’s try this again a different way”
- “I am strong, sexy and happy”
- “This is tough, but I’m tougher. Let’s try this again”
- “I like myself.”
- “I can’t pick the cards, I can only play the hand. Let’s figure out how to win.”
You define your own success and you are in control. Embrace that and do it. Maybe the guilt will subside, maybe your stress will decrease and then perhaps, you’ll have a higher quality more satisfying of life? When you are happy with yourself, your confidence increases. When your confidence is up, you can take on the world. And that piece of mind will naturally erode those sneaky stress levels that creep in through every day life.
Just food for thought…
Here’s the Stress Management Article Breakdown: