Stress is something all of us will deal with at one stage or another, it is a very normal part of life. There are countless articles and magazines on ‘how to eliminate stress’ or ‘how to remove stress from your life’. These are quite frankly just unrealistic. Stress is not something that you can eliminate one hundred per cent of the time 24/7. What is helpful however is working out a way to certainly decrease and manage stress. That’s exactly what we are going to breakdown in this article. We’ll start by defining stress, what causes it and then head towards what we can do to manage stress in our everyday lives.
The Detrimental Effects of Stress on Your Long Term Health
You may recognize the short term effects of stress. These often include;
- Chest pain
- Increased heart rate
- Increased blood pressure
When it comes to the long term effects of stress on your health, things can get a bit more serious. If you are constantly stressed and tense you will be at risk of developing regular tension headaches and chronic pain. What’s more, a constantly elevated heart rate and blood pressure can leave you at greater risk of a heart attack, stroke and hypertension. These can also cause inflammation in your circulation system. Other long term effects can include:
- Weakened immune system
- Weight gain
- Increased risk of diabetes
- Increased blood pressure
- Increased blood sugar levels
- Increased likelihood of anxiety and depression
Have a read of these common daily stressors and how we can work to manage them
Common Daily Stressors
- Morning stress
There’s no two ways around it. Mornings can be VERY stressful. What with organizing breakfast, a workout, organizing your day and then maybe even throwing in a school run, it can be a lot! So how can we manage the morning chaos?
Tip 1: Focus on what is important
In this day and age it is so normal to feel like we have to do absolutely everything at once. The reality is, this only leaves us flustered, frazzled and probably turning up to the school gates with two wrong shoes! Focus on doing less with more attention. i.e. pick out what is absolutely essential (notably feeding yourself and your children, getting them to school, getting yourself to work or to your desk and taking some time to enjoy a morning coffee!). Focus on these things first, if you have time for some other, less important things then great…but if not, they can wait!
- A Bad Night Sleep
Nothing sets you up for a crazy, hectic day quite like a terrible night’s sleep! When we are stressed we might not sleep well, when we do not sleep well we cannot perform our everyday tasks as well as we’d like.
Tip 2: Assess what is causing you to toss and turn
Getting to the bottom of what is keeping you up at night is essential to allow you to move forward. Could it be too much screen time? Are you sticking to a daily sleep schedule? Are you consuming too much caffeine too late in the day? There are so many ways we can improve the quality of our sleep. Check out some ways you can improve your sleeping habits here:
- Email Overload
Do you ever find the more stressed out you seem, the more your unread email list just keeps going up? We have to realise that we physically cannot, nor are we expected to reply to every email the second it comes in. All this does is distract us from other, probably more important tasks.
Tip 3: Designate specific points of your day to deal with emails
Choose 3 or 4 times a day to focus on your inbox for no longer than 10 minutes at a time. This will help you to stay on track and up to date without leaving you feeling like you are not achieving much elsewhere! Unless it is urgent, try to stick to these time windows to deal with reading and responding to emails.
- Feeling overwhelmed with your to–do list
Have you ever found you just have so much to do but no idea where to start. So often we automatically start with the tasks that we don’t think will take very long, in order to get ticking things off our list. All this does is keep pushing the longer (probably more boring) and time consuming tasks to the bottom of the list leaving them hanging over us for longer. Consequently, at the end of the day we are still left worrying and feeling overwhelmed.
Tip 4: Focus on the biggest tasks first
Instead of ticking of your fun and easy tasks off first, flip that technique upside down and go for the longer, harder tasks to kick off your day. Focusing on these tasks first means we are more fresh and alert and focusing on them with a clear head. Write down the exact task you need to complete. Start this task and do not do anything else until you have finished it. Work in blocks of 25 minutes then have a 5 minute break to stand up, grab a drink or stretch. Do not move on or multitask until this very task is complete. You’ll be amazed at how much more in control you will feel.
- Staying on top of our health and fitness
We all know how good exercise and movement is for us and our long term physical and mental health. That’s why for many of us, exercise is a part of our everyday lives. A lot of the time however, we are left stressed over how we can fit an appropriate amount of exercise in with everything else we have going on. Add that on top of eating well and taking some time out for self–care it can seem like too much to deal with.
Tip 5: Focus on 10 minutes at a time.
We have said it time and time again. You do not need to work out for hours and hours on end to see results. As little as 10 minutes can have real positive effects on your physical and mental health and wellbeing. Focus on a little movement every day. This will give you the start you need to clear your head and focus on taking some time for you. Once you experience the incredible benefits of exercise and the positive impact it has on your daily stress and wellbeing you will always find a way to treat it as a priority.