It is 9 am in the morning and my stress levels are already out of the roof. Like every morning, this morning too was jam packed with work, kids, jobs, stuff, thoughts. I have already trained two clients, packed two lunches, shuffled the angry hubby out of the house, fed the cat, played justice of peace and ensured my daughters do not kill each other nor myself, done a load of dirty washing and quickly hung it up too, answered 3 urgent emails, done my Instagram, scheduled another post on Facebook and done a health coaching session via Skype. And even though nothing of this is earth shattering or extremely stressful in itself, I feel like I have run 100 miles per hour. All of those little stressors and multitasking have added up and culminated into one big high. Cortisol is pumping through my veins and my head is spinning.
Does this sound any familiar? Can you relate?
What I have not done in all of this morning rush is to breathe deeply. One slow inhale, followed by one slow exhale.
How can we possibly keep our Zen up, stay centred, focused and energised in our crazily busy lives? Is this at all possible?
What if I tell you, it is. And so much easier than you thought.
Here are my 8 easy strategies on how to manage your daily stress without your adrenals going in total overdrive mode:
1. Identify the sources of stress in your life
Start by identifying your sources of stress first. This is best done using a stress journal. Note down the time and date where your stress response occurred, what appeared to be the cause of your stress and what your stress response looked like. I find this really helpful since it helps to high-lighten our key areas of stress. Being aware of these is a first great step in actually being able to address them.
2.Apply the 4 A’s of stress management
In order to better cope with your stress, practice the four 4 A’s of stress management. These are:
Avoid unnecessary stress.
Learn to say ‘no’, avoid people or situations that increase your stress levels, pick your battles and priorities and by all means do not put more stress on yourself than absolutely necessary.
Alter the situation.
Learn to be an effective and open communicator, manage your time effectively, be more in control of your life than your life controlling you, be more flexible and willing to compromise.
Adapt the stressor
Practice gratitude, reframe any negative talk to positive one, look at the situation from a different angle, try to see the bigger picture, practice being more real instead of perfect.
Accept the things you cannot change
Consider what opportunity every challenge offers, do not try to control things that lie beyond your control, share your emotions and look at the upside of things.
3.Love and accept yourself
Learn to give yourself more positive feedback and to channel compassion and love towards yourself first, so you then can give it to others too. In my experience, truly accepting and loving yourself somehow often is quite a challenge to us. Try to replace all those critical voices inside your head with positive affirmations and create a safe zone of peace and inner calm within yourself. You will find that with more self-love you will more easily withstand the storms of your busy life.
Move more. And in ways that really make you thrive. Explore ways of movement that really bring the best out in you and that fit your situation. Which means a HIIT session at 6 am in the morning for someone whose stress levels are already surging at incredible highs, is probably not the best option. However, a power-walk in nature or strong Yoga-flow seems more fitting.
5.Nourish yourself with beautiful wholefoods
We are what we eat. So, it is a no-brainer really that if we put crap into ourselves we will also feel like crap, eventually also end up looking like it and we put our bodies under more stress. However, if we go back to nourishing ourselves with beautiful real, wholefoods, we are strengthening our physical, mental and emotional selves and are much more likely to cope better with our many, daily challenges.
6.Rest and relax yourself
Practice a good sleep hygiene. Choose to nurture yourself with 8 hours of restful sleep every night. Keep your room cool, quiet and dark. Try to go to bed around the same time every evening and engage in some relaxation techniques before if your mind is too busy to quieten down. Fill your body with deep belly breaths that calm and energise your entire being. Re-establish a balance you simply with deep, long inhales and exhales. Engage in mindfulness or meditation practices. Spoil yourself with a regular massage or long warm, luxuriously scented baths.
7.Manage your time better / organise yourself
Be more aware of where most of your time is going and then try to take better control of the way you are spending this time and where you are investing your precious energy in. Use the 4 Quadrants of time management to be able to use your time more wisely and be sure to not waist it on things that are unimportant or not urgent.
8.Enjoy and reward yourself
Try to create more balance by scheduling fun time into your busy schedule. Whatever makes you laugh at the top of your lungs, makes your heart sing and rejuvenates you, make regular dates with yourself and do exactly that. You will be surprised how much more focused and productive you will be after having spent 30 minutes or longer on YOU.
Having these tools at hand does not make my life less busy. Those early morning sessions, thousands of little jobs and chores, work related pressures, grumpy hubbies and children will not simply dissolve into peaceful, misty bliss. But it makes me better equipped on how to deal with all of this. And instead of hanging up the washing early in the morning, trying to be superwoman, wasting any of my precious energy on less important things or somebody else’s bad mood, you will more likely find me focusing on myself: breathing deeply, doing a quick yoga warrior or balancing pose and having a warm cup of deliciously energising Matcha tea while re-arranging my schedule and negotiating peace between my girls in a much calmer and effective way.