Did you know that April is Stress Awareness month? Did you also know that stress is the biggest block to feeling happy? If you are someone who is extremely busy (I mean, who isn’t these days) and going through life constantly feeling stressed, exhausted, overwhelmed and burned out, then this month is a great time to reflect on the changes you might need to make in your life. I have no doubt many of you are thinking, but I have so much to do that I can't change anything, but I’m here to tell you that you do have a choice. Life is all about choice and its how you prioritize what is important that allows you to make the choices to create a life you really want to live. However, without putting more stress on you to assess your big life choices, here are some simple tips to reduce your stress instead.
Create a positive, uplifting morning routine
Creating a morning routine that feels great to you, puts you in the right place to tackle your day. You might already have a routine that is focused on getting your kids and family ready for the day, but I’d like to challenge you to do something for yourself. Try getting up 15 minutes earlier to have your own time, maybe you can do some meditation or mindfulness by sitting in silence and focusing on the five senses of what you see, hear, feel, taste and smell around you. Or you might try journaling – if you haven't tried this before, you could start by journaling what you want to get out of your day i.e. if you can go to sleep tonight and feel really good about your day, what would it have looked like? Then from there you can set an intention for the day, for example, if your great day included you being really patient with your kids or even co-workers and not reacting, your intention for the day could be ‘expressing patience no matter what today’.
If you have enough energy when you wake up, you could get some exercise or stretching in. I often hear a lot of people say they don’t have time for a workout during their day, but a workout doesn’t need to be an hour of going to a gym, you can do short 10 – 15 minute workouts that make a big difference in your energy and stress levels throughout the day. When my kids were young, I would get up at 5am and do a 15 minute workout that I used to get out of a health magazine (this was clearly pre-smart phone days) and it gave me energy to get through my day, reduce my stress and kept me in shape.
I would also like to challenge you to think about what you listen to in the morning, whether it’s the news or just your kids arguing. The morning is a great way to feed your mind with positive content. I’m not saying you should never watch the news, but if you think about it, the news is never filled with positive and uplifting content. Its usually filled with fear and negative events, so often you will start your day already stressed by consuming that type of content. There could be a great podcast you can be listening to as you are doing morning chores or getting ready for work, or maybe you can put on some fun music as your kids are having breakfast and even have a dance party as a family before everyone leaves the house. Just making even small changes to your morning routine, will help you start out your day in a more positive way.
Set a time that you will finish work and stick to it
You might be someone that has set shifts, but many people don’t and in these current days of a lot of people are still working from home and it’s easy to let work spill over into your personal time. Pick a specific time to end your work day each day e.g. 5pm and make a plan for what you are going to do at that time. Maybe you can plan a walk or a bike ride with your kids (then you get to spend some quality family time too) but then you have a reason to stop working. Make sure you block it out in your calendar so you stick to it and others can't schedule meetings over it. If you already have a time you need to finish work as your kids are in sports or activities, but you need to log back on later to get some more work done, then I encourage you to set either a block of time e.g. 30 mins or pick one or two things you have to get done, then just stick to that and log back off again when you are finished. Try not to get dragged into checking e-mails or starting other things on your to do list if it wasn't in your original plan. By following this approach, you will usually find that you start planning your day to stick to your hours and will prioritize what you need to get done so you can finish on time. Try this for even a few days or a week and see how you go.
Spend less time on Social Media
This one can be a big one and involve anything from mindless scrolling, to responding to everyone's posts, to envy of how fantastic other peoples lives are, leaving you feeling stressed and worse about your own life. If it’s mindless scrolling that you do. this can be a big timewaster because a few minutes can easily turn into an hour without you even realizing. Perhaps you are someone who likes to respond and make comments on others posts, if so, try to limit this to just what you really need to respond to or set yourself a time limit like 20 minutes. If you are someone who feels worse about their own life by seeing how happy and put together everyone else looks on social media, then you may want to think about really limiting your time altogether. The big thing to remember here is, most people only want to display the best parts of their lives out to the world, so they will usually only post the happy or fun photos, which don't always capture real life. Just think about the friend that posts a picture of their kids looking joyous and laughing on a carousel, but of course you wouldn’t see if the kids had a tantrum a few minutes before, just to get the carousel ride! Or a couple that is out for date night posting romantic pictures of a beautiful evening, but that might be the only evening they’ve had in the last year to enjoy together OR if it’s so romantic, why are they posting on social media instead of enjoying each other’s company. Point being, a photo only captures a moment in time and if we assume their lives always look like that, it is often an assumption or a story we’ve made up in our own minds. Stop comparing your life to others, real or imagined, and if that’s too hard to do, then stop subjecting yourself to constantly scrolling through other people’s photos.
Get more sleep
Sleep is critical to maintaining a healthy and balanced day. If you don’t get enough sleep or quality sleep on a regular basis, then it impacts every aspect of your life, especially your stress levels. Most people need between 7 – 9 hours of sleep a night, so I would suggest you try to figure out what works best for you. Once you know how many hours you need, work out what time you need to get up in the morning and work backwards to figure out what time you need to go to bed. The biggest thing is, don’t compromise on the number of hours of sleep you need. Try to develop a routine of going to bed and waking up at the same time each day. I struggled with getting enough sleep for years as I had issues with either falling asleep or staying asleep, so some things I have found has helped me immensely are; diffusing lavender essential oil throughout the night (and putting some on the soles of my feet) listening to a hypnosis before I go to sleep, which helps me sleep more deeply and I sometimes do some Emotional Freedom Technique aka Tapping before going to sleep (you can easily find how to do this on Google or YouTube if you've never tried it). Other things you might try could be taking magnesium during the day or having a Epsom salt bath which also contains magnesium, getting more exercise during the day so it helps release your energy instead of it swirling around in your body when you try to sleep, wearing blue light glasses at night around electronics or stop using technology for a period of 30-60 minutes before bed. One more important thing to note is that some people need to lay down for about 30 mins before going to sleep to discharge energy that they’ve built up throughout the day that isn’t theirs, so if you don’t fall asleep straight away, don’t fret, as long as you aren’t taking an hour or more to fall asleep then this could be normal for you.
Find time for self-care
Okay I’ll bet you knew this one would come up! The big question is, do you get any time for yourself to do what you want to do? If you don’t, now is the time to make the time. Even if its just an hour or two on the weekend or 15 minutes a day (I’m not talking about the 15 minute morning routine either), but just something where you get to spend time by yourself doing something you find relaxing or decompressing. Maybe its reading a chapter of a book in a nice quiet location or taking a peaceful bath or even a quick nap or a walk around the block. Whatever it is, it doesn’t need to be hours on end, but it should be regular and something you can look forward to and it needs to be scheduled. If you don’t block the time out on your schedule, then you will easily skip it or give it up for something else and usually someone else’s priority. There is a saying that goes 'what gets scheduled, gets done' and even if you aren’t schedule driven, this one is important to set a day and time and stick to it for your own benefit. If you feel that an hour isn't enough to refresh you and all you want to do is sleep in any free time you have, its likely you are burned out and you really need to assess all of your commitments to take some pressure off yourself.
So, these are my tips to help you manage stress in your life. I encourage you to pick a few and try them even for just a week or ideally a month to see if you can make them sustainable in your life and reduce your overall stress.
If you need additional support or are ready to go deeper, schedule your free transform your life coaching session where we will explore your vision and goals and uncover your hidden challenges. You can book this free session at www.liveyoursensationallife.com