Myth- When life is less stressful, I won’t feel as stressed.
I used to say these words to myself, and I actually believed them to be true. In the past three years, I have put work into realizing the fallacy in these words and into creating a new perspective.
My new perspective is that life will always be stressful in some way and there is no need to suffer. In simpler terms, I can learn to manage stress; I don’t need to suffer from it.
I used to manage stress by doing things to feel better after my stress felt overwhelming. Doing this felt like putting a small band aid on a deep cut. I experienced temporary relief, but the source of my stress was still there. Now I like to experiment with two practices – identifying my sources of stress and identifying symptoms of stress.
Identifying Sources of Stress
Stress is unique to every person. The things that cause me stress are not the same things that cause my friends or family stress. Spending time in reflection at the end of each day allows me to look back and see if there are any situations that caused stress that day. I ask myself these questions:
Were there specific things I did that day to cause stress?
Did I have interactions with specific people that caused stressed?
Did I try to do too many things in one day?
Had I devoted any time to self-care that day?
My stress level reflects how I plan each day. If I over schedule myself and don’t make time for self-care, my stress level is high. On the other hand, if I plan time for self care and manage my commitments, my stress level is low.
Identifying Symptoms of Stress
There are many symptoms of stress. My symptoms include headaches, loss of focus, being forgetful, and tension in my neck and shoulders. If I pay attention to these symptoms, I now know that they are telling me my stress level is rising. If I ignore the early symptoms, I find myself feeling anxious, unable to sleep, and feeling overwhelmed.
By identifying my sources of stress and symptoms of stress, I now feel empowered to managing my stress. These are the things I routinely practice now to keep my stress level low.
- Limit the number of hours I spend on work each week. I have found a healthy balance between teaching, writing, and creating content.
- Set aside time each day for self-care. My self-care toolbox includes yoga, journaling, meditation, walking my dog, practicing Pilates, getting out in nature, and taking a bath.
- Space out appointments (hair, dentist, doctor, etc) and commitments.
- Limit screen time and exposure to social media posts.
- Create time to learn something new. Right now, I am learning golf and love being a beginner.
If you have read all the way to end of this blog, I would love to hear your story! What are your sources of stress? What are your symptoms of stress? How do you manage your stress?