todays stresses are different and here is how to offset them easilyRead More
Stop saying Yes when you mean No
You know that moment when you are asked to do something or come to something and you agree to it all the while knowing you are going to spend the next week stressed out trying to work out what excuse will work to get you out of it. Start practicing to say no when you actually do mean no and it is amazing how much stress falls away. A simple, ‘thank you but No I cant’ is polite, honest and much much easier in the long run. The person asking has usually moved on the the next person they want to ask and they aren’t left disappointed in the end when you finally think up the excuse you think will work.
When It is a work request, it can be trickier but If I simply don’t have the bandwidth, I say ‘Based on my current workload, I can’t take that on today but I can do it for you on this day by this time… Does that work? …. If it is your boss and its urgent, agree what comes off the current to do list so that you can make it ‘yes’ and mean it!
Having Predictable Downtime & Setting Boundaries
If we are to avoid burnout or chronic tiredness due to our every busy lifestyles it is essential that we find ways to properly rest our body and mind. Affording ourselves predictable downtime through setting reasonable boundaries is a useful way to start some better habits to sleeping better, better energy levels and enhanced feelings of health and well being.
One of the worst things for keeping our brains active, pumping out cortisol and preventing us from starting to relax is our smartphones. These are responsible for extending our working day way beyond what is a reasonable expectation for contribution to your job. If you want to remain productive and more importantly healthy, happy and well then have a time in the evening after which you don't check your email or use your phone.
Signal rest for the body with a nightly wind down ritual such as a cup of tea or a bath. This should also be the signal to the rest of the family that you are now 'off duty' '
If it is an intensely busy period at work rather than cut out your time for exercise altogether, make the workouts shorter or get a quick class done at lunchtime or early in the morning before the day gets really hectic.
If you have a period of time where lots of extra weekend work is required, decide when it is going to get done, do it then draw a line under it and put it out of your mind. Don't allow it to impinge on the other part of the weekend or you might as well not have stopped working. Easier said than done sometimes so the best thing is to get outside, get some time with friends or family, attend to your hobby. This 'down time' will mean you get to work more refreshed more relaxed and in a better state to make decisions and be more productive.
Plan a reasonable bed time and stick to it rather than sitting in front of the TV. Better leadership, productivity, decision making and levels of personal happiness are all outcomes of a regular good nights sleep.
work life balance is different for everyone… read on for more tips on getting it working for youRead More
What to eat and other tips for busy timesRead More
Not all stress is unnatural and there is no way we can avoid having stress in our lives so it’s important to remember that stress is meant to occur either to save our lives or to help us perform when something matters to us…. you know, like exams, work presentations, interviews and the like. As the saying goes ‘Just another cold night on the side of Everest’ feeling the stress during these situations is perfectly natural and not to be feared - it will eventually pass and there are lots of things you can do to help you stay resilient during these stressful periods.
It is the other type of stress – the always on chronic stress that many of us have in our lives and for some of us has become such an everyday occurrence that we don’t even realise how tightly wound our internal elastic band is. For me, I was chronically stressed with work and poor sleep when Eva was a toddler and she was sleeping really badly in response, as she felt my stress and needed me even more when my only thought was to try get her to bed and asleep so that I could work. Eventually my elastic band snapped and I started yelling for her to go back to sleep ☹…. That was my wake-up call to finally realise how out of control my stress had become and when I look back at this period in my life I realise there were so many signs I had missed on the road to getting to this point.
What are your personal stress signals and how can you recognise them and deal with them so that you don’t let yourself get over whelmed? Any or all of the following are pointers to being over stressed:-
Feeling panicked or overwhelmed
Inability to think clearly and make decisions
The ideal situation is that we never let it get to this point and to be proactive in taking responsibility for our mental, emotional and physical needs. Find your own ‘Stress Resilience Prescription’ – those things which help you burn the feelings of stress away. There are lots of known stress relievers - find what works for you and have a little of it every day!-
Exercise – burns stress, just make sure you don’t constantly over do it in a workout as you are just adding fuel to the fire if you are very stressed
Good Food – Lots of good food, fresh veg and fruit all help and do your best to avoid highly processed sugar laden good or excess alcohol during times of stress
Talking and Time with friends – a good laugh works wonders but the science behind t is that talking and time with friends releases oxytocin which protects you in times of stress so the temptation might be to duck away from meeting people but don’t!
Accentuate the positive – we always hear about trying to avoid stressors or people who cause us stress but allowing ourselves to remember good times and really staying in the moment during good times, feeling gratitude for what we have, builds a resilience bank which helps us cope if in times of stress.
Finding time for our hobbies and being outdoors – these two are central to staying resilient during stressful times – finding time to get outdoors is central to keeping our connection to the earth we live on and feeling part of something bigger than ourselves, and keeping time in the diary for our favourite hobby allows the body and mind to recharge especially if we can get so absorbed in it that we find our flow. Even if it is crazy at work, some predictable down time will help you cope and perform better!
Finally, one of the most common behaviours which leads to huge stress is cognitive distortion or what I like to all ‘disasterising’ where your mind puts a spin on things, always in a negative pattern, assuming the worse will or has happened when the truth is usually innocuous. You know when someone hasn’t phone you when they said they would and you assume ‘Oh no, I bet they met someone else’ or you see your boss with what you assume is a cross face and think that you have done something wrong or they weren’t happy with your work….. This is so common (Hand up!) and the problem is that our poor bodies get the stress response as if it has happened because it doesn’t know the difference between what your mind is telling it has happened and what has in fact happened! Think about this and if it is you, try recognise this for what it is and stop these thoughts. The more you recognise it, the easier it will be to nip it in the bud.
It’s not always easy but getting good at recognising your stress signals will mean you can cope better and stay well during periods of stress.