Whether you’re a CEO of a Fortune 500 or CEO of your own household, it is normal to feel stressed and overwhelmed at times. Often the demands of managing life can seem like a never-ending list of “to do’s,” all of which require our constant attention and energy. As women, we often try to be everything to everyone and everywhere all at the same time. It’s exhausting! Stress is a normal part of life and in small, well-managed doses, believe it or not, can actually be good for you! If left un-checked, however, day-to-day stressors can result in chronic, high levels of stress that can put your physical and emotional well being at risk.
Ok ladies, so how do we cope with stress in a healthy and positive way…(wear all our hats and still have time to smell the roses!) Here is 4-step plan for the “Best Self-Care Ever”.
1. Recognize Your Stress Symptoms.
This may seem easy, but in fact can be quite challenging because many of us have lived with stress for so long that it has become normative in our lives.
Emotional/Cognitive symptoms of stress include:
- Becoming easily agitated, frustrated, and moody
- Feeling overwhelmed, like you are losing control or need to take control
- Having difficulty relaxing and quieting your mind
- Feeling bad about yourself (low self-esteem), lonely, worthless, and depressed
- Constant worrying, racing thoughts
- Forgetfulness and disorganization
- Being pessimistic or seeing only the negative side
Physical/Behavioral symptoms of stress include:
- Low energy
- Headaches and gastrointestinal issues
- Chest pain and rapid heartbeat
- Loss of sexual desire and/or ability
- Change in sleep and appetite
- Increased use of alcohol, cigarettes, or drugs
2. Identify Triggers or Sources of Your Stress.
Think about this scenario: When waiting in long line at Target and are in a rush what makes you feel angry or irritable? A) Is it because you are late and need to be somewhere, B) Is it because your agitated that every cash register is not open or C) Are you are overwhelmed by the lights, noises, and crowded store. Perhaps its just one trigger or all of the above? Whatever the trigger or source, ask yourself what your role is. Is it actually the long line that is stressful or your tendency to procrastinate, think negatively, or perhaps have sensory sensitivities.
3. Use the “AAA Approach” (We are not talking insurance!)
Avoid: Stressful places and people. Learn to “say no” and let go of guilt. Your kid’s PTA meeting will run just fine if you are not able to attend that one time or ever! Also, limit or end unhealthy relationships. Often we don’t have enough time to spend with people we like, so why spend time with people we don’t like? Be selective!
Accept the things you cannot change: In life there will be many things that are uncontrollable. Focus on what you can control… Your response! Learn to have self-compassion and forgive yourself. Accept imperfection…its ok to be “good enough.”
Assert: Use assertive communication. If you don’t like splitting the check when out with friends, tell them you prefer to have a separate check. If you lose them as a friend, good riddens!
4. Use the “Four R’s Technique.
Rest: Maintain good sleep hygiene by turning off all electronics an hour before bed. Condition your body for sleep.
Relaxation: Do what soothes your soul. Whether it’s listening to your favorite tunes, reading a book, watching The Bachelor, meditation, or getting your nails done. Take time for yourself.
Relationships: Make the effort to stay connected whether it’s with old or new friends. Listen, laugh, reminisce or create new memories. Don’t forget date nights and quality 1:1 time with your kids.
Resources: Divide and conquer! Use your powers to delegate daily tasks and enlist help and support from family, friends, and the community. Kids are often capable of doing far more than we expect. If they can learn how to write programming code in 4th grade, they can learn how to operate a vacuum! No kids? Entrust your partner. No partner? Hire a housecleaner. No money? Go back to AAA and Accept the house will be messy and that’s OK!
If you have difficulty implementing stress management techniques or have done so, but still feeling overwhelmed by stress, let’s talk. We are here to help.
This piece was written by the professionals of Family Link COunseling Center.
The information contained in this article is for general informational purposes only. Individuals who are in need of professional psychotherapy or medical advice should seek treatment, and in the case of a medical emergency, should call 911 or go to the nearest hospital immediately.