It is so important to listen to your body and not ignore signs telling us that we need recovery or we are feeling dis-ease. We know our bodies well, and by paying attention to the warning signs and cries for help (skin rashes, sleepless nights, anxiety attacks, lethargy, disassociation from love, etc.) we can begin to take steps towards better managing stress. Objective awareness is key.
Observing what is happening in the body and mind is followed by monitoring of emotions, your physical and mental states, and the way you interact with others. If you frequently feel edgy, you can determine what is triggering you and how you can better manage those situations. Keep a journal or take notes in your phone when you feel a symptom of stress or are involved in an emotionally charged situation. This will give you a bird’s eye view of your stress, rather than be blinded by it.
While this may sound obvious, and at times impossible with a to-do list a mile long, it is the MOST important step in managing stress. When you’re tired you sleep, but when many of us are stressed, we force ourselves through the warning signs to tackle the tasks of the day. This, however, does no good for anyone in your life especially yourself. You cannot give to others when you don’t give to yourself. Take a 15-minute break and do something fulfilling in the middle of the day that brings you relaxation and joy.
When you have observed your stress, monitored your triggers and taken time for yourself to rest, then you will be in a better head space to act accordingly. This involves doing what is best for you, and many times that might not mean crossing something off your to-do list. That may mean taking the rest of the day off of work or canceling plans and honoring your need to spend time with family, or alone. Act accordingly with what your body is telling you and you will create better habits for the future to manage stress effectively.
Steps 1-4 can be done multiple times a day, everyday, as often as you need. Managing stress is a process and is certainly not something that can be done overnight. It takes practice, determination, and a willingness to say “no” when you need to protect your time, energy, and health. Repeat repeat repeat.