Are you overwhelmed by stress? If you said yes, then you are like many Americans. Research shows that 60% of people in poor health, have high levels of stress. So, what are you stressing about? Money, work, kids, relationships and the list goes on.
I think the biggest lesson I have learned being a Marriage & Family Therapist is, we can’t go back and we can’t predict the future. If you stress about any of these things and you don’t stop. You are putting your health at risk.
What happened to faith? To something much more powerful than any human being. Why are we losing our faith, and letting stress take over? You focus on what you don’t have, rather than what you do have. The never enough syndrome. Once you buy a house, you want a bigger one and so on. It never stops. This leaves you feeling depleted and overwhelmed.
Here are 10 tips to help you reduce stress:
- Stop relying on caffeine to get you through the day. There is nothing wrong with a second cup of coffee, now and then. But, you don’t want to rely on it. If you are prone to anxiety, then you want to avoid it all together. It can increase anxiety and stress. I think back to the days before Starbucks, where there were no to go cups. You sat with your friends having a cup of coffee at the cafe, talking and laughing. Think of that the next time you go for that second or third cup of coffee. Caffeinated sodas also count. Take a break and invite a friend. You can still go to Starbucks, but stay there and sip your coffee.
- Take a nap. I know you think this sounds unrealistic. You have so much to do. How can you fit in a nap? You don’t have to take one everyday, and it could be for 30 minutes. Power naps really do work. We all feel a little sluggish in the afternoon after lunch. If you can, shut your office door and close your eyes.
- Find a place that brings you peace. Where do you feel most calm? Is it near water or in the Redwoods? Maybe, you have a place in your house or you have a pet that helps you feel relaxed. Wherever it is, go. Then, stay for a while. Take a few deep breathes and clear your mind. Stay in the moment. Feel the wind or air against your skin. Keep this memory close. Then, when you are at work and feeling stressed out you can visualize this memory.
- Listen to music. Take a music break and listen to music that leaves you feeling good. This will help get your mind off what you are stressed about, and help keep you in the present. All you have to do is listen to the music and use your imagination.
- Start in the morning. Rather than focusing on your to do list, start your day with three affirmations. They can be simple, I am enough is one of my favorites. Think of all the things you have done. Many people wake up in the morning and the stress begins. Slow down, have a cup of coffee and stay away from the news. You can read or write in a journal.
- Get out of your head. We all have an internal dialogue. It is going all day long. And, it is your worst critic. It tells you, you aren’t good enough, pretty enough, thin enough or you don’t make enough money. As long as you keep telling yourself these things, you will never feel good. You will always feel stressed out and less than. Learn to accept where you are. And, remember nothing stays the same. You can always count on change.
- Take a walk. This doesn’t mean run over to Taco Bell on your next break. I mean go to the beach or a park. Stop and notice your environment. What beautiful things do you see? What weird things do you see? Is the sun out or is it foggy? Put your phone away, feel your feet hit the ground? What else do you notice? There is so much out there. Don’t miss out on it.
- Eat nutrient rich food. Food is fuel for the body. Forget the fast food that you have been eating. There aren’t many nutrients in it, and they are high in calories. These types of foods will leave you feeling bloated and fatigued. They aren’t good for your gut or your brain. Make sure you are eating plenty of fruits and vegetables. Load up on protein and go light on the carbs. This will help you focus and decrease stress. Also, make sure to drink enough water. You don’t want to get dehydrated.
- Make time for fun. What happened to fun? So many adults have gotten away from having fun. You spend so much time judging yourself, worrying about the future, that you forget to put fun on the calendar. You can spend time with friends and take silly pictures. Watch funny videos, play with your pet or go on a weekend get away. Start to work fun in everyday. Start simple and small. Set aside 10 minutes to watch funny videos on YouTube or listen to songs that make you laugh. This is also a good time to write out funny things you have seen people do.
- Talk about your problems. This can be so hard for some of you. Why is that? Are you worried people will think you can’t handle it, or think ill of you. We all go through highs and lows in life. There are no exceptions. When you don’t talk about your problems, you tend to stay stuck. You don’t have to solve your problems right now. And, you may find there really isn’t a solution. That’s alright, what is important is that you aren’t holding them in. When you hold in your problems it can lead to physical problems, depression and anxiety.
You may not be able to control your environment, but you can control how you react to it. When you are taking better care of yourself, you are more likely to react calmly to the environment. At the end of the day, remind yourself of the good things you did for yourself today. You may even sleep better.
Lianne Avila is a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist in San Mateo, CA. She has helped many people just like you, reduce stress. For more information, call or email (650) 892-0357 or Lianne@LessonsforLove.com.