Bouncing Back From Stress
A small amount of stress can be useful to us. Minimal manageable stress can boost our brain function and immune system. But when stress becomes chronic or extreme, it impacts most areas of our lives negatively. A lot of us are experiencing a great deal more pressure than usual, and it’s important to acknowledge the impact of this.
In 1967, psychiatrists Thomas Holmes and Richard Rahe created the Holmes and Rahe stress scale measuring 43 stressful life events ranging from death and divorce to going on vacation and how they contribute to illness. The higher your score on the scale e.g., the more stressful events you endure, the more likely you are to develop an illness.
Chronic stress is linked to adverse health impacts throughout our entire body, including a 40-60% increase in coronary heart disease, increased digestive disorders such as IBS, decreased immune systems, and accelerated aging. According to studies, women are suffering from chronic stress age, on average, ten times faster than those with healthy stress levels. According to the American Institute of Stress, 46% of people site that their leading cause of stress is workload. The National Sleep Foundation found that 43% of people aged 13-64 lie awake at night a minimum of once a month due to stress.
So how do we handle stress and decrease its impact? Whether its problems at work, home, or with our finances or only that repetitive negative internal chatter that chips away at our self-confidence and increases our levels of pessimism, here’s some tips that can help.
Although a lot of stress is external and out of our control, is there anything you can do to avoid stressful situations? Can you simplify something in your life or start saying no to extra responsibilities? Self-care is especially important right now, so take a moment to examine how your boundaries may have shifted since the start of the pandemic.
How much of your stress are you causing? Do you have terrible time management skills or repetitively overspend creating debt worries? Be honest about which parts of your stress are down to you.
Try having a conversation with your boss if you feel your workload is too heavy. They may have solutions to help distribute it to other members of the team. All too often, we assume a conversation will go badly, so we put off having it creating more stress as we waste time worrying. Talking things out with a close friend or therapist can also be invaluable.
Don’t be a Perfectionist
It’s ok to ask for help. It doesn’t make you look weak. On the contrary, there is strength in being able to show your vulnerability. Asking for help also increases the connection we feel with other people and helps us feel less alone. None of us are invincible or immune to the stresses of life.
Accept the Uncontrollable
Sometimes we have to accept that there is nothing to be done to change a situation. In these cases, the way to mitigating stress is to try and change the way you react to it. Do you habitually tend to fly off the handle or panic? Can you stop and take three deep breaths before you speak or walk away before reacting?
We’re blessed in Los Angeles with almost year-round sunshine. Sunshine increases vitamin D in our systems, which increases our serotonin levels. Just 10-20 minutes outside each day is all we need to feel happier (with proper social distancing, masks, etc. of course.)
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, just ‘5 minutes of aerobic exercise can begin to stimulate anti-anxiety effects.’ You’ll be pleasantly surprised to find loads of free or inexpensive exercise webinars if you google it. There are also several apps in the app store with either free trials or affordable monthly costs.
Lend a Helping Hand
We’ll go ahead and save this for when the quarantines lift, but it’s good to keep in mind the feeling volunteering can bring. However harmful we may feel our situation is there’s always someone in a worse position. Taking time out from your schedule to give to someone you care about or donate to a cause you believe in. Doing so lowers stress, improves our self-confidence, and gives us purpose and meaning.
Get in Touch with Your Joy
Laughter is the best medicine. Schedule time with people who make you laugh or watch a stand-up special on your favorite streaming platform.
And you don’t even have to leave the house! If you’re feeling anxious, psychologist Sharon Melnick recommends pressing and holding your thumb on the acupressure point on the side of your middle finger, which quickly lowers your blood pressure and de-stresses you.
When we’re feeling overwhelmed by stress, it can be challenging to feel motivated to do anything about it. But even taking tiny steps towards a happier, healthier life can radically change our stress levels (and lives) for the better.
For more easy tips and mindset shifts to help you manage stress, join us on our next free webinar, "Lighthouse in the Storm." We'll be going live on Thursday, April 16th, 2020 at 11 AM PT / 2 PM ET. Register here even if the time doesn't work: we'll send all who register a link to watch the presentation when it best works for them.