Stress is fairly common in this day and age, but it doesn’t have to be a constant in our lives. In our modern-day world, with so much stimulus and activity, it’s no wonder why 77 percent of Americans claim to experience symptoms related to stress, and 33 percent of Americans feel they have extreme stress. For a lot of people, this stress tends to come from an overwhelming life situation like job pressure or money problems, as well as unhealthy relationships and media overload.
Let’s face it, we live in a very fast-paced world, with new information streaming into our conscious awareness constantly. Our brains can only process a small amount of this information so it’s understandable why all of the input can be overwhelming. There’s no shame in feeling overwhelmed and stressed out, it’s simply your body’s way of telling you that something needs to be done differently. See it as a good thing, think of these emotions and symptoms of overwhelm as alarm bells ringing off that you’re taking on too much and you may need to slow down and reprioritize.
Your job is to listen to these responses and change the course before stress-related illnesses arise. Here are a few practical ways you can help lower that stress when you’re feeling overwhelmed.
1. Prioritize Self-Care
Self-care is extremely important. The time and nurturing directed toward yourself builds you up from the inside out leaving you feeling ready for your day. Contrary to old beliefs, self-care is not selfish, in fact, it’s a must for a healthy, well-balanced life. There are your basic self-care routines including your hygiene routine, your exercise routine, and your meal routine, as well as time for interests and creativity, and quiet alone time to recharge your batteries. Implementing a mediation practice has also been shown to decrease levels of stress and anxiety profoundly. Start your day out right by implementing your own morning self-care routine before you do anything else.
2. Streamline Your Schedule
If it’s your busy schedule that’s making you stressed, streamline your time each day by prioritizing all of the activities in your day. Having a day planner really helps. Your self-care should be at the top of the list, and then everything else will follow. If you notice your schedule is filled with doing everything for everyone but yourself, you may want to gracefully bow out of the duties that are leaving you feeling the most taxed. Make a list of the things you could stand to remove from your schedule and replace them with things that bring you more self-care and peace.
3. Say “No”
Have you ever heard the saying, “No is a complete sentence” and that you can use this word and not feel guilty about it? So much stress tends to come from thinking that we have to be everything to everyone and that if we say no we’re letting people down. When we do say no, we tend to feel mean and unkind. Although, are we being nice to ourselves if we say yes to something we would rather not do? It’s also not honest to the other person either to do something you would rather not do just to save face and look nice.
Trust your gut feelings, if you would rather not do something or go to a certain event with someone, just simply say, “No thank you.” There is nothing wrong with that. The thing is, if the person really cares about and respects you, they will respect your right to decline offers. If they don’t, and the press or push the issue, then maybe the relationship is causing you unnecessary stress and it might be worth re-evaluating if that person is someone you want to keep close. Removing toxic people from your life is also going to bring you more peace in the long run.
4. Set Boundaries
This is kind of along the same lines as saying no. Boundaries are one thing that can really help to keep us sane in a busy world. You have the right to set boundaries not only around your physical body and space to maintain your peace but also with your time and energy. No one else decides where your time and energy are spent but you, so decide what your personal boundaries are and stick to them. If your boss is constantly trying to get more hours out of you but you’re feeling stressed already, set your boundary with your boss. Do the same with personal relationships too. If you’ve never really set boundaries before, it may seem awkward at first, but as time goes on it will become more natural, and you’ll be less stressed because of doing this.
5. Take Time Away From Social Media
If you’re like most people these days, it might be your habit to pick up your phone as soon as you wake up and look at your emails and social media, and then continue to check in on it throughout the day. Trying to keep up with all of the information you’re receiving can be quite overwhelming, to say the least. Save social media until after you’ve done something to take care of yourself first or when you’re done a task you need to do. It can also extremely relieve stress when you do a detox from social media. People don’t need to know what you’re up to all the time, and it can be really revitalizing to live in the real world instead of the internet world.
6. Spend Time in Nature
This one is another one we hear a lot, but it’s SO important. As natural beings, we are hardwired to connect with nature and natural things. If you can’t spend some time in nature every day, at least try and schedule an hour or more every few days or at the very least, once a week. Also, filling your home with various plants is a great way to incorporate nature into your life. Having a pet has also been shown to increase the quality of your life and reduce symptoms of stress. Essential oils, natural herbs. and stress relieving foods are another great way to incorporate nature into your everyday life. Having furniture and accessories that are made from all-natural materials really helps to create a non-toxic environment for healthy living.
These are just a few of the things you can do to decrease stress and reclaim your life, and the good news is, you’re in charge when it comes to designing your life. So really zone in on the things that are most important to you and realize what your values and goals are for yourself because you deserve to live the life you want to live. Also, always be sure to seek professional care if your symptoms of stress continue or worsen.
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