It’s no secret that stress has some pretty nasty effects on our lives. It makes it hard to get rest, makes us gain weight, and makes it difficult to choose healthy options. It can even affect our jobs and relationships.
We often have demanding schedules and responsibilities that take priority and, after the long days spent trying to get everything done, it can leave a person feeling exhausted and overwhelmed.
Knowing all of this, why is it still so hard to mellow out?
Many times when a new task, or responsibility is added to the pile, you are already operating at a deficit. You’re already tired and in a state of overwhelm. This is the cycle that needs to be broken and fast! So, how do you do this?
Getting some contrast is an important first step in better identifying the stress cycle.
When you take a moment to sit or lie down after a long day, do you ever say to yourself, “Wow, I had no idea how tired I was.”? This is a perfect example of contrast. Acute stress can be easy to identify, but when it’s spread out over the course of a day or longer, it can be harder to pin point.
You can create contrast by making set times throughout the day to close your eyes and sit or lie quietly. Just bring your attention to your breath, notice your body, and set your intention to release any stress from your body. Completely stop what you’re doing, and spend at least 5 minutes in this state of relaxation.
The more you practice taking this moment of stillness, the more you will adopt this state as your baseline. After you’ve established this as your baseline, you’ll be able to identify even the smallest of stressors as they arise.
In order to keep the day from getting away from you, you have to take control at the beginning.
If you understand that being happy is a choice, then the following tip will give you the best chance at success. When you wake up in the morning, take a moment to set an intention for your day. It can be something as simple as saying to yourself, “ I am going to have an awesome day today!”. With this intention set, anything that comes your way throughout the day will be met as an opportunity to make your day awesome. It’s really that simple.
It is much harder to take the day back after you find yourself in a whirlwind of stress. It still takes effort to stay in control of the day, but not nearly as much as it does just trying to stay afloat. Compare it to swimming along with a nice even stroke, or paddling hard to keep your head above water while you’re being thrashed around by unruly waves. Being in control is much less taxing!
When discussing the subject of stress, no topic is more important than that of proper sleep habits.
Getting a good night’s rest is the best thing you can do for yourself if you’re caught up in the stress cycle. This can be a hard thing to do when you have a lot on your mind and adrenaline pumping through you but, all the more reason to get a handle on it. There are a few things you can do to make your transition to bed a smooth one.
Having a routine for bedtime, just like the ones we give babies and small children, is a life saver. Choose anything that is soothing to you. You can meditate, play relaxing music, dim the lights. You can do some light stretching, or snuggle down with a book (nothing too exciting). A good tea blend or aromatherapy blend works wonders as well!
As relaxing as it may seem at the end of the day, do your best not rely on alcohol to get you to sleep at night. This can result in poor quality sleep as well as grogginess upon waking. Feeling sluggish in the morning might make you reach for stimulants. Stimulants make it hard to relax and find stillness throughout the day and makes it hard to get to sleep at night. See how this cycle can get very crazy very fast?
Do your best to stay in a calm and relaxed state throughout the day, set an intention at the start of your day, and get good sleep. Not just adequate sleep, but great, amazing, brag-to-all-of-your-friends sleep on a regular basis. Try this out for a few weeks, feel the stress leaving your body, and watch your lifestyle make a huge turn for the better!