How To...Manage Stress Pt 1
How to…Manage Stress (Big Picture)
Stress seems to be inevitable at times when you’re trying to balance work, family (parents, children, extended family, etc), chasing your dreams, finances, physical health, relationships, friendships, church, volunteerism, extra curricular activities, working out, just EVERYTHING! It can become a bit overwhelming, honestly I’m a bit overwhelmed just thinking about everything I have on my plate! Through all of that, here’s how I balance my stress and minimize anxiety in my life!
1. Maintain a consistent relationship with God
For me this is the most critical piece of my ability to manage stress. I have an hour commute to work and daily I’m listening to sermons and challenging myself to apply those lessons to my life. A few that I recommend include my pastor I’ve been under for 19 years now Pastor Jenkins, Sarah Jakes Roberts, and Keith Battle are some of my favorite. Not only does this help me grow spiritually but it helps me get my mind right before going into work.
Even if you aren’t religious, you have to find something to mellow you out or give you peace. Another method I would suggest is music! Sometimes I just have to turn on some 90s music and turn the radio as loud as it can and sing my heart out. Dance like no body is watching, the people in other cars will never see you again!
Whatever it is for you, find it and do it daily!
2. Running and yoga to relieve stress
Anyone who knows me knows that my love for food is about as strong as my loathe for working out. Keeping that in mind I will say this, daily exercise is a necessary evil (although I’m not quite at daily yet). Although I dislike exercise with a burning passion, I understand it’s benefits and I certainly appreciate the results! I’ve had to learn what types of exercise I’m willing to commit to, for me that was running and yoga.
A major part of my dislike for exercise came with trying to do the “gym” thing like everyone seems to buy into. It’s the norm when you begin getting in shape, it’s almost expected. But I hate lifting weights and the other various machines, it just wasn’t for me in the least bit. I had to find what I enjoyed and commit to that instead.
Some different exercises I would suggest include running (it’s free outside), yoga (also free on YouTube), cardio kickboxing classes, trainer courses (I know plenty trainers do them for free), or even getting a gym membership! There are just as many options as you may have excuses so you have to make a decision if you want results or excuses.
3. Minding my business, not taking on other’s stress, and minimizing unnecessary stress
The first part of this is so critical. Mind your business! If it doesn’t directly impact you, you really don’t need to know about it. Why clutter your mental space with things that don’t even concern or impact you? It’s just not worth it. You’re allowing people, things, and concerns to take up mental real estate when space is already limited. Next time you begin to worry about something or think about it for more than a second, ask yourself…does this concern me? If not, move on!
Eliminating the amount of stress you take on from others. What I mean is when others are stressing and they come to you with their problems, don’t allow yourself to stress over their problems as well. It’s great to be supportive, understanding, a listening ear, and even offer advice if that’s what they need but don’t carry the mental burden into your life as well. Ask yourself if it directly impacts you, if not be a good friend and let the mental space remain vacant.
Minimizing unnecessary stress is an interesting lesson I’ve learned along the way. Often times we find ourselves stressing over things we can’t even control, so really is that anxiety worth it? When I’m met with a frustration I try to ask myself a few questions before allowing it to stress me out:
· Can I fix it? Yes? Great let’s make a plan! No? Don’t stress about it just accept it for what it is!
· Could I have prevented this? Yes? Ok let’s figure out how to avoid this moving forward! No? Don’t stress about it just accept it for what it is!
· Can I learn something from this? Yes? What is the lesson? No? Okay very rarely do I experience something I can’t learn from.
4. Solving problems with organization
Maybe it’s because I’m naturally an organized person, but I have yet to find a problem that couldn’t be solved with a plan. I may not always be able to figure out the plan on my own, but there are people who have those areas figured out. For example, I was struggling financial and I needed a plan well my mom is an accountant! And as difficult as it was to be completely transparent with her, it was worth it to have an actionable plan to put into place.
The key to having a game plan is breaking it down into actionable steps, assigning realistic timelines, and sticking to the plan even when you don’t want to. If you’re able to do this, you’ll begin to see tangible results in the near future and that will motivate you to push towards the next goal!
5. Putting my needs first
This is a difficult lesson for me to learn, because naturally I am a giving person and I’m usually more focused on others than myself. This paradigm shift has created such freedom and given me the time, space, and mental energy to accomplish so much more! I no longer carry the guilt of putting others first, I take care of my needs and give of myself with what’s left.
If you’re a giver like me, that sounds incredibly selfish. But really it’s self-care! I used to give so much to others I never had anything left for myself, which led to tremendous burn out and consistent disappointment. I had to put me first and then I am more capable of being there for others.