Do not underestimate the power of stress. I'll be the first to say that I've been a little bit of a stress case lately. Well, actually, just ask my husband; I've been totally stressed!
Between starting my own business, co-founding another (more info on this to come soon...yes, I know, I'm insane), selling my house, moving and leaving my regular 9-5 job I've been all over the place and not necessarily in control of my stress levels. But, even with all of this crazy and exciting stuff going on, I've tried to teach myself to not play victim to my stress and instead, figure out how to handle it and even use it to my advantage! Today, I'm sharing 3 key strategies to help you truly manage your stress.
1. Stop Talking About How Stressed You Are :: Okay so look, life can be incredibly stressful sometimes; even to the point where you feel crippled and immobilized by all of it. One key strategy to use here is to stop playing victim to your stress; don't let it control you. What I mean by this is stop giving your stress so much darn attention! Stop telling everyone how stressed out you are. The more you talk about and even think about stress, the more energy and life you give it. Instead, practice the art of noticing your stress, acknowledge it and then take 5-10 really deep, slow breaths. The more you let stress overtake all of your conversations and thoughts, the more it begins to envelope every part of your life. So, from now on, notice how often you mention your stress in conversation, email, text or even to yourself. Work on toning that back by focusing on the positive and taking some deep, restful breaths!
2. Take a Bath :: And please don't say that you don't have time. If you're stressed, I challenge you to set aside 15 minutes this week for a quick but relaxing bath. Add 2 cups of epsom salt and a few drops of lavender oil to a warm bath and sit in it for at least 15 minutes without distractions. Leave your phone, computer, husband, etc outside of the bathroom and take this time just for you. Although you're taking 15-20 minutes out of your already crazed day for this bit of relaxation, you will notice that you are more present, creative and responsive after you've given yourself this downtime. An extra bit of time for relaxation can have an incredible impact on the quality of your work and your ability to be present, happy and relaxed for your family and friends. Plus, it feels so wonderful!
3. Optimize Your Sleep Cycles :: It's not enough to just get 7-8 hours of sleep per night to control your stress. It's incredibly important that you also optimize the time that you are asleep. We all sleep in cycles that are about 75-90 minutes long that take us in and out of REM. Each stage has a specific job that helps your body detox and feel rejuvenated in the morning. When you're cortisol (stress hormone) levels are high, you don't cycle through each stage which means you wake up feeling really crappy and probably even more stressed than before. So, to ensure that your body sleeps and recovers properly, try getting a little bit of sun exposure in the morning. Sit outside for 10 minutes with your cup of coffee, try walking to work or each your lunch out in the bright sunlight. Also, be sure to eat a diet based in whole foods. When you eat processed, sugar laden foods, they really throw off your sleep cycle. So, even if you are getting 9 hours of sleep, you're still waking up feeling exhausted and terrible.
Stress can suffocate your energy and make you feel drained in every way possible. After living in a pretty consistent state of stress over the last few months, I finally decided it was time to take a hold of it. I began by slowly implementing the strategies I described above and have already noticed a HUGE difference. If you leave with anything from this article, simply remember that stress doesn't have to control you. You don't have to implement all 3 strategies that I mentioned above. Simply start with 1 and then slowly work your way up to all 3. All it is, is a conscious decision to wrangle in your stress and start living the life that you deserve.
If you have other tips and tricks that help you manage your stress I'd love to hear them in the comments below!