The New Year can offer feelings of lightness, renewal, and growth. It can also offer feelings of pressure, stress, and urgency. Before you start to sink in your chair if you relate more with the latter group, remember that temporary feelings of stress and urgency (maybe even a bit of impatience) aren’t necessarily bad or wrong. Key word: temporary.
If you set New Years resolutions or perhaps just have a few goals in mind for the year ahead, a healthy dose of urgency can help motivate you and provide you with energy to get things accomplished. Sometimes, feeling pressure and stress in small amounts helps to remind us that what we are working towards is meaningful and important to us. If it wasn’t important, we wouldn’t feel these internal pushes and pulls.
Rather than resisting any feelings of stress, notice what changes when you try to view stress as a little helper; a friend that encourages you to stay focused and stay energized. Remember, stress, by itself, is not our enemy. It becomes toxic when we don’t notice it, manage it, and keep it in check. When this happens, it may become ‘chronic stress’. If you think you are experiencing chronic stress, talk to your health care provider this week to get the support and help you need. For those that experience temporary feelings of stress, don’t resist it; use it as a reminder that what you are doing has meaning and purpose.
KEEP IT IN CHECK
Temporary stress and feelings of urgency, when kept in line, can empower us. But when gone unchecked, they can often make us feel cluttered, overwhelmed, anxious, and discouraged. Want to know how to keep your stress in check this year?
1.Know The Signs
Stress shows up in many ways. Physically, you may experience a tight jaw, sore neck, achy back, muscle tightness, and tension headaches. Nutritionally, you may experience bouts of not eating or urges to overeat (especially the carb and sugar-loaded stuff). Mentally, you may feel foggy, cluttered, unorganized, and scatter-brained. Emotionally, you might experience sadness, anger, anxiety, withdrawal, and frustration. It is important for YOU to know how it shows up in your world. Write down a few ways that stress shows up for you.
2. Know The Threshold
Small, temporary doses of stress can be good but we need to know our personal threshold. What is a comfortable amount of stress for you? And at what point does it start to shut you down? This ‘threshold’ is different for each person and it will take some thoughtful investigation on your part to think this one through. So put on your investigator hat and start to notice when you feel empowered and when you feel powered-down.
3. Know Your Plan
Once you establish your threshold, you now have the information you need to know when to practice stress management techniques. There are hundreds of ways you can practice managing stress in healthy ways and the key is finding what best suits you. One technique proven beneficial is using our breathing. Other techniques include writing a to-do list to re-organize, writing down your thoughts on paper, taking a walk or moving the body, enjoyable and relaxing activities, talking to loved ones, eating a well-balanced and nourishing diet, practicing positive self-talk and self-affirmations, and the list goes on.
4. Use Your Breath
One technique that has stood the test of time is using the breath to calm stress. Dr. Weil published an article which offers 3 breathing exercises and techniques to help manage stress. Click here to read the article and watch the videos!
Want to figure out how to handle school or college related stress? Check out our blog "How to handle back-to-school stress" below: