Are You Stressed?
We hear so much about stress and anxiety and how it can impact our wellbeing; but how do we know if we are stressed, and what do we do to remove it?
The New Normal
We live in a world where being busy is the acceptable way to be. This new ‘normal’ means that we feel guilty if we are not busy or rushing around.
We have become human doings rather than human beings. We rush from one thing to the next juggling work and life with a to-do list that never ends. Technology means that everything is at our fingertips. However, it means that we expect an immediate response and have become less prepared to wait.
This impacts us all in different ways. Some people thrive on this; they love being busy and having lots to do, enjoying the added pressure to get everything done quickly and on time and that sense of achievement at the end of the day. For other people, there is a sense of overwhelm. Looking at the to-do list creates a feeling of panic and anxiety. There isn’t a feeling of achievement, just a feeling of dread and/or occasional physical palpitations.
Often the difference between the positive and negative response is the nature of the tasks ahead, rather than the volume and the element of control we have over when the tasks should be completed.
Busyness – A description of a lively but meaningless activity
Is your life busy and fulfilled or do you have a life full of busyness that causes stress?
Do you set your priorities?
We must be assertive over what we do and when we do it. This means saying “no” to tasks when necessary and appropriate. In a work environment, it is important to communicate if a task is not achievable or to discuss timescales and support. In a personal environment, it is important to say “no” when we need to. If saying “yes” to someone else is saying “no” to you, then you need to be assertive and say the words “no” out loud.
This can be a difficult conversation, but the more we have these conversations, the easier they start to become.
Use the settings on your phone to switch off notifications to certain apps or to all apps at certain times. Switch your phone to silent, so you aren’t disturbed or switch it off completely!
What is your ‘Tell’?
We all have a different telling sign of when we are stressed. It may be changes to sleep, mood swings, lethargy, anxiety or changes in the foods we want to eat anxiety. These are just a few examples, but it is important to keep an eye on how frequently you are experiencing the ‘warning signs’.
Do you keep track of your physical and mental wellbeing? Very few people do and so do not spot changes in their behaviour in the early stages.
Keeping a ‘worry journal’ is becoming increasingly popular now. Write down your worries; get them out of your head and onto paper. This exercise can often help us see the bigger picture and gain perspective. It can also help you to see any recurring worries but also if you are worrying about present ‘stuff’ or past and future ‘stuff’.
Making a note of your health and wellbeing in your diary, on an app or even in a journal designed for this purpose, can help you stay focused on completing the activities that help reduce your stress levels as well as keeping an eye on any changes in your mood and mindset.
Know your Limit
We can actively work to reduce our stress levels. We all have a limit as to how much we can cope with. It is vital that you know your limit and that you recognise when you are approaching it.
Do something every day that helps reduce the level a little. Find what works for you. Ten minutes is a good start. It may be music, reading, meditation or even something as simple as not doing anything. Just sitting with a cup of tea and not do anything for ten minutes.
Each week add in an activity that is a little longer that you find relaxing. A film, a visit with a friend, a walk, a gym session; anything that helps you switch off.
Use the off button on your phone during these ‘time-out’ moments. The world can wait!
Slow Down, Switch Off!
Are you stressed? Keep asking yourself this question. If you can identify when you are reaching your limit, then you can take action to keep your stress levels under your control.
- Take control of your tasks.
Set the time frame and say “no” when needed
- Look for the signs
Monitor your physical and mental health and wellbeing
- Know your limit
Understand when you are nearing your limit and commit to regular activities that will help you to reduce your stress levels
- Slow down, switch off
Smart phones are smart. Are you using yours in a smart way?