How to Manage the Stress of Doing All the Things All the Time
Stress: My experience
The word alone can make you cringe.
Recently I took a Women’s Health class, where we were instructed to “assess” our stress levels. We all jumped on WebMD (of course) and took a quick survey on stress.
Based on the results of my assessment, I definitely could stand to handle my stress a little better – “Stress Management: Could Be Better” declared WebMD.
To be fair, my life is pretty ‘cushy’. I live in a first world country with all of my rights, access to education and healthcare in a beautiful home, nice neighborhood and quaint city.
My family is incredibly supportive of me and I get to see them all the time. My husband is incredibly helpful around the house and provides for our little family.
So what have I got to stress about?
My work can be a little stressful, because I am spread thin between locations. Teaching in the fitness industry means I have multiple places of work and have to divide my attention, time & energy between them.
On top of that, I also teach a multitude of different styles of fitness which means I am prepping for different programs & constantly shifting gears throughout the day.
Building a business is probably one of my main stressors because it is always in the back of my mind. Working full time and going back to school is stressful.
Maintaining some semblance of a healthy lifestyle while being pulled all over the place can be trying at times.
But frankly, I have everything I could ever want and my life is incredibly abundant (Yes, I realize this).
The stressors in my life are what comes along with being productive, forward-thinking and motivated in the ways I see fit.
This kind of stress I would deem more as eustress – the beneficial kind.
How to manage your stress
Believe it or not, not all stress is bad (hurray!). There have been a ton of enlightening studies on how our physiological response to stress doesn't have to be negative for our health.
Stress can be utilized strategically to succeed in life with such things as public speaking, test-taking, or project management. However, the way we view stress can be what's leading to health-related illnesses such as cancer, weight gain, diabetes, or high blood pressure.
We can't eradicate stress in these busy lives we lead, but we can learn how to mitigate the stress we experience and make for a more calm undertaking in life.
As for handling my own stress, I find the following helpful:
- Streamlining my Schedule: By planning ahead and scheduling out meals or breaks throughout the day I am better able to handle my workload.
- Self-Care: By taking time off when necessary & blocking out time for the things in my life that satisfy my restoration.
- Focus on the Moment: By concentrating on the task at hand I am able to give my attention to the present moment.
Whether it is a meal with my partner or teaching or schoolwork, being able to provide my undivided attention to the activity eases my mind, so I am not worried about what is coming up next.
- Mindfulness: When I am feeling a little more stressed, I make time for meditation or revisiting my yoga practice. Being able to focus on breath and/or partnered with movement can calm the mind and nervous system.
- Physical Activity: When I feel emotionally stunted or struggling to get a handle on my stressful emotions, some good old-fashioned strength training usually does the trick. Exercise releases serotonin and feel-good chemicals that improves your attitude and shifts your perspective to one of greater positivity.
- Planning and Preparation: When it comes to financial stress, my most difficult problem, I believe having a plan will help. As I look at our expenditures, chart out budgeting and strategically plan ahead, it eases some stress knowing that there is a solution to the problem. Even planning for the week or day ahead of time can help me better manage my time to ward off stress.
- Gratitude: When I get wrapped up in all the difficulties of the stress of life, sometimes simple mental reminders of how lucky I am are the cure. Reminding myself of all the things in my life for which I am grateful helps to reground me. Either creating a specific list or mindfully sending thanks for these things in my thoughts can ease some of my heightened emotions.
- Focus on your breath: When I’m training, I use inhaling & exhaling as a cue to move. You can take this practice into your daily life & return to the breath when you're facing challenging obstacles. Our body responds to shortened breath in a very physical way, by changing our movement & creating stress patterns in our upper body via respiratory issues. Focus on lengthening inhales & exhales when you're feeling anxious.
Each of these tools eases my anxiety, balances out my emotional state and makes me feel more optimistic about my state of life.
Stress & Social Media
But what about social media?!?
Case studies have been done about anxiety, stress & depression as it relates to the amount of time we spend on our phones or online.
You can guess that the more time we spend glued to our screens, the more likely we’ll experience some of these negative side effects on our mental health.
Becoming aware of my own social media use has helped me to regain control over my time & lowered my stress levels. If you feel like social media could be the culprit of your current stress levels, try this:
- Be conscious of your online “social” time.
- Use social media wisely as a tool, make dedicated time for it when it’s appropriate, but don’t let it rule your life.
- Start by bringing awareness to when you pick up uour phones. How do you think of yourself while absorbing all those filtered photos & half-truths online?
- Social media is a platform in which images are distorted, altered, edited, & do not represent reality - just like magazine ads, music videos, & other forms of entertainment. People's bodies represented online have been airbrushed, photoshopped, & they’re simply not showing all there is beneath surface level.
- Try and avoid comparison - remember it’s not real.
- Put your phone on airplane mode at night and don’t let the world back in until you’ve finished your morning routine (brushing teeth, drinking water, being productive, reading, meditating, writing, moving, etc.).
- Just like any other distraction, limit your time & ask yourself whether it serves your goals or makes you happy.
- If you sometimes get lost 'scrolling' then set a timer when you get on social media to limit your time spent there.
You got this!
More Resources for Stress Management
Need more help with managing stress?
Establishing a visualization & meditation practice can be incredibly helpful in dealing with anxiety. I've utilized these tools to help better manage my own stress & to feel more confident & in control. Read my article on the how & why of these practices here >>> ARTICLE: How Can I Start to Meditate & What Does Meditation Do: The Basics
All in all, I live a relatively stress-free life. I typically cause any tensions on my own by dwelling on the difficulty instead of taking action. By continuing to focus on the doing instead of fretting, I tend to work my way out of stress.
Now I’d love to hear from you! How do you cope with your stress and in what ways do you find relief?
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