by Jessica Sally
2020 and 2021 (so far) have brought an unusually high level of stress to everyone. When life is overwhelming, the line between self care and unhealthy comfort mechanisms can begin to fade. We are creatures that need balance to thrive. What is self care in moderation can quickly become self destructive in excess. Just the thought of stress management can even cause MORE stress! What can we do about it? If we break down healthy living into 4 categories, we can focus on one area at a time, making small improvements that aren’t overwhelming.
Our body NEEDS quality sleep, good nutrition, regular movement and stress management habits built into our routine. What could that look like?
The quality of our sleep and the length of our sleep are both critical to allowing our body and mind time to recover from the stress of the day. If we don’t give our body what it needs, we end up heading into the next day already in a deficit.
● temperature: a cool room supports sleep (between 15.6 to 19.4 degrees Celcius)
● light: the darker the better! Try blackout curtains or an eye shade
● noise: a quiet room or some white noise can support sleep
● length: are we giving ourselves hours to sleep the right amount (7-9 hours a night!)
● consistent schedule: go to bed and get up the same time each morning as much as possible
● distraction: leave your phone in another room
● screen time: one hour before bed, turn off all screens, reducing blue light
● brain dump: a few hours before bed, try writing down whatever you’re feeling
● eat regular meals of quality food
● limit caffeine after 1pm – some need to be completely caffeine free
● avoid alcohol before bed, it can often have a negative effect. It might make you drowsy but it can impact restful sleep
● avoid highly processed, sugary, hard to digest foods
● don’t eat a large meal/snack before bed to avoid indigestion
Our bodies are made to move. Without enough movement, our body cannot be at its best. As challenging as it was pre-Pandemic for those who worked at a desk, Pandemic life has increased the challenge.
● regular movement breaks built into your work day
● plan specific exercise periods throughout the week
● get outdoors
● stretch in the morning and at night
Great stress management doesn’t always mean removing stress from our life. There are simply some things beyond our control. It does mean that we look at the things causing us stress and group them into categories. Things I can control, things I can’t control and things I can control eventually. If we can change it, then we want to do a little bit each day/week on changing that stress. If we can’t change it (ex. Teaching 3 children from home during a lockdown) then we need to focus on supporting our body/mind so we can cope the best we can.
● if it takes less than 3 minutes and creates order, do it! (example: Make your bed in the morning so no matter what goes wrong in the day, you have a calm place to return to)
● journal for 10 minutes a day
● eliminate areas of frustration in your home one at a time (example: if you can never find your keys in the morning, create a specific spot for them such as a key hook or an easy to see bowl you can toss them in when you come home)
● look at ways to simplify your morning routine so your day doesn’t start in a panic
● schedule 10 to 15 minutes a day for quiet time for yourself. This may need to be in the morning or at night when any kids/spouse/pets are still sleeping.
● talk to someone you trust (or even your plants!)
● practice finding bright spots in your life. Once a week (or day) list the things that bring you joy, that you are personally grateful for.
● list 3 things that inspire you and look at it on the bad days (can be anything, a person, a place, a trip, a goal)
● once a month (or more) do something nice for someone else (without it being expected)
When we look at our life in the context of these 4 categories, we may feel like we have sooooo many areas to work on. Just pick one that speaks to you and focus on that for a week or a month. Then work on another one. The coaches at Catalyst are happy to help you build action skills and guide you in these areas to create a calmer you!
Book your FREE No Sweat Intro call here to start the conversation about how we can help!
Disclaimer: These tips are for managing general stress. Please talk to a medical professional if your stress load becomes acute, feels unbearable or just to rule out a medical cause.