April is National Stress Awareness Month. And today is National Stress Awareness Day.
Today in the Synectics Media office, we’re acknowledging the day with a ton of activities meant to relax and relieve stress. We have stress relieving essential oils filling the room with scent, calming tea waiting to be served, a special yoga class scheduled right before lunch, and chair massages available all afternoon. We take the subject of stress very seriously and so should you!
Not to add any stress to your day, but stress can kill! It wreaks havoc on your heart, your skin and hair, your immune system, even your brain. It can cause depression and anxiety, in addition to many long term health issues. It can also crush your productivity and creativity, not to mention, it can utterly obliterate your enjoyment of life.
Before you freak out and add even more stress to your day, finish reading this post. I’m going to give you some tips on lowering the amount of stress in your life.
Take a deep breath.
The easiest thing that you can start right now! Sit up straight in your chair, close your eyes, slide your shoulder blades down your back, reach the top of your head toward the ceiling, and take a deep breath through the nostrils and exhale through the mouth. Attempt to make your inhales and exhales the same length. Count them and make sure each is a minimum of 5 counts. After you’ve found a rhythm with this, begin to say mentally to yourself “breathing in” on your inhales and “breathing out” on your exhales. When you feel ready, go ahead and open your eyes. How do you feel? Try to do this at least twice a day.
Pare down that schedule!
This exercise might seem stressful at first, but once you get going, I think you’ll enjoy it.
Step 1: Write a list of your top 3 priorities, in order. Don’t go by what you think looks better, go by what you truly feel should be your priorities. What do you *want* to come first in your life? It’s all right if you don’t think that work should be your number 1 priority, it’s all right if you don’t think your family should be number 1. This is your list and no one is going to see it but you.
Step 2: Open up your calendars. All of them.
Step 3: Look at this next week. Starting tomorrow and for the following 6 days.Step 4: Put a “1” by anything that relates to the 1st priority on your list, put a 2 next to anything that relates to the 2nd priority on your list, and a “3” next to the 3rd.
Step 5: Erase and reschedule EVERYTHING ELSE! No if, ands, or buts. If it’s not in your top 3 priorities, it can wait. Your health depends on it.
Step 6: Choose an activity that you like to do. Something that makes your heart sing, something that makes you happy. Maybe its underwater basket weaving, golf, or looking at pictures of cute kittens on the internet. Whatever it is, make it your 4th priority. And schedule it in. With ink.
Remember to enjoy your life.
In our culture we tend to glorify “busy-ness.” We wear our massive schedules like badges of honor, as if constantly running was something that should be rewarded with the highest of honors. We need to stop this way of thinking.
Many of us work and work and work, pushing towards that goal of having a happy and fulfilled life, but when do we get to enjoy the fruits of our labor? When do we reward ourselves with what we crave most? We should be doing those things every single day. This doesn’t mean that you should stop everything and just relax all day, letting the bills go unpaid and the children go hungry. It just means that you should take some time out of every day to give yourself something that you need. Sit on the porch in the evening and watch your children play. Make yourself some popcorn and sit back and watch a movie. Go to the movies! Do whatever helps you to enjoy this life that you are creating with your hard work.
Give yourself permission to take time for you.
It’s O.K., I promise. Start by taking a little time. How about an hour once a week or 30 minutes every day. It’s hardly as much as your hardworking self deserves, but it’s a start. I give you permission to take this time to be good to yourself! You should give yourself permission too. No feeling guilty allowed!
What are your stress relievers? Do them. Now do them again!
Are you seeing a theme here? Find out what your stress relievers are and do them again and again! Does the breathing technique mentioned above work for you? Maybe you relax better in a warm bath, sitting outside, practicing yoga, or creating something amazing. Whatever your stress reliever is: DO IT! And then, do it again.
Read my upcoming blog post on burnout!
Keep checking back for great posts on how to relieve everyday stress.