6 practical stress reduction tips.
Do you often feel overstressed, overtired, and overwhelmed? Many of my private clients come to me completely overtaken by their stressful lifestyle. They wish they could experience the ideal state of a work-life balance but instead, they feel like they can never keep up with their busy schedules or manage the physical and mental tension they experience on a daily basis.
While I think the state of a perfect work-life balance is often a glorified illusion, I always encourage my clients to implement customized strategies to effectively manage their stress and negative emotions. We all know that living in a constant state of stress can have a devastating effect on our health and wellbeing, but we often don’t realize that 75 to 90 percent of all doctor visits are due to stress-related issues.
I use the following powerful steps with my private coaching clients to help them manage stress and create their own definition of a balanced and fulfilling lifestyle.
1. Know what’s important.
Do you know your top priorities and values in life? Do you have your key goals written down? Are they specific, measurable and time bound? Is what you’re doing in your life aligned with your priorities, goals, and values? If your daily activities and actions are not supporting what’s important to you in life, you will experience an internal disconnect, and as a result, feel stressed out, burnt out and unfulfilled.
What can you do? Identify your life priorities and your core values. Set goals and break them down into achievable actions and milestones. Look at your daily schedule, activities, choices, and decisions and ask yourself: is what I’m doing aligned with who I am and how I want to live my life?
2. Let go of what you can’t control.
When you start paying attention to the things that get you stressed, you’ll immediately notice that most of the things that make you feel nervous, anxious and upset are the things you cannot control. I am sure you can recall getting upset over the unexpected traffic during your commute to work, the coffee you spilled on your new dress, a rainy day or that person who did or said something that hurt your feelings.
What can you do? The first thing to acknowledge is the fact that we can’t control how others think, behave or speak. We can only control our own feelings, reactions, and actions. Next time you catch yourself getting tense or angry, ask yourself if it’s worth it. At the end of the day, you may be the only one getting stressed out, while the person that upset you is peacefully moving on with their day. Ask yourself: can I control it? Do I want to get caught up in it? How can I let it go? Take a nice, cleansing breath and release all the tension and negative emotions from your body.
3. Stop “should-ing” all over yourself!
Over the next couple of days, pay attention to your thoughts, feelings and what you are saying. How many times have you thought or said to yourself that you should or shouldn’t do something, or that you should have done it differently; or maybe that you should have said this or that, or asked yourself or others what you should do? When you live your life preoccupied with “should”, you may be more concerned with satisfying other people’s expectations of you, rather than living your life the way you really want to live it. A “should” is someone else’s idea or strategy in your head. When you try to comply with what you think you should do, rather than what you want to do, you create an internal conflict of interests and add more stress to your life.
What can you do? First of all, pay attention to the situation in your life when you are living the way you should be living vs. the way you want to live. Then decide what you really want. How do you want to live your life? What do you want to do professionally? What are your passions and hobbies? Every time you catch yourself should-ing all over yourself again, ask yourself what DO YOU WANT instead?
4. Just say: “NO!”
Many times, we get stressed out because we overcommit or get involved in situations or events that we are not interested in, only because we feel bad saying “no!” to an invitation or opportunity.
What can you do? Next time somebody asks you to do something, take a moment before you respond and ask yourself: “Do I really want to do this?” If the answer is NO or you are not sure (I always tell my clients: If it’s not a HELL YES! then it’s a NO!) then politely but firmly deny the opportunity. And remember, you don’t have to justify or explain your decisions! You have the right to set boundaries based on what works or doesn’t work for YOU.
5. Ask for help.
Many times stress is the result of having too much on your plate. Sometimes we can be so busy that we don’t even have the time to stop and reflect on what is going on in our lives. Do you find yourself being the only person responsible for all the important tasks at work, or for running the entire household with minimal or no support? Do you avoid delegating at work because you know you are the only person who can do everything right? Is your schedule over-packed and even full of multiple appointments scheduled at the same time?
What can you do? It’s time to ask for help! Focus on the most important tasks and events in your personal and professional life and outsource everything else. Hire paid help or ask family members, friends or coworkers for help. Decide where in your life you need help the most. Do you need to hire a babysitter, a cleaning service, food delivery service or another employee?
6. Practice self-care.
This one seems to be the most challenging step for many of my clients. For some reason, women are so focused on making sure everybody else and everything else is taken care of, they leave their own needs unattended. Self-care is not a luxury, it’s a necessity if you want to stay strong, healthy and energetic to live your best life. Remember, you can’t pour from an empty cup! If you want to be active, involved and present in your professional life, you have to take good care of yourself. Finally, self-care practices are one of the best remedies to release stress and tension from your body and mind.
What can you do? Schedule regular self-care activities in your calendar. Your self-care routine can involve anything that you love to do that makes you feel relaxed, happy and rejuvenated: make an appointment to get a massage or a manicure, attend a yoga class, take an aromatherapy bath, go out with your friends, book a weekend away just for you, find a quiet place to read a book or meditate, go for a walk or a hike, etc.
If you are ready to live a healthier, more relaxed and more meaningful life but don’t know how to break the cycle of always being busy, and living your life on autopilot, I would like to encourage you to try some of the stress reduction tips I mentioned above. You can also send me an email if you are looking for a more personalized strategy to create your own version of a well-balanced and fulfilling life.
Start Living Your Way!
Joanna Echols (MS, MA, PBC, RYT200), Career & Wellness Coach