Our Q&A Wellness Expert, Ellen Goldman dives into stress management with 8 tips on how to stay calm under stress.
Lately I’ve been noticing that regardless of why my clients hire me for wellness coaching, at some point in our discussions stress management comes up. Whether we are focusing on weight loss, getting exercise into routines, work/life balance or any other aspect of wellness, stress seems to play a role. Everyone has stress; it’s part of the human experience. Although we may not be able to eliminate stress, we absolutely have it within our ability to control how much stress we experience, how we react to it, and how we manage it.
On any given day most of us deal with circumstances that challenge us and lead to stress. Many are life’s little hassles, like flat tires or computer problems. Some are life altering, such as sickness or divorce. It’s important to remember that not all stress is bad. Even life’s happiest moments can cause stress. Ever notice the stress level of a bride planning her wedding, a couple moving into their dream home, or the executive who just got promoted? All great stuff, but it still can lead to feeling stressed and out of control.
Research has shown that chronic stress can make us sick. And it certainly takes the fun and joy out of life. So it would make sense to learn tools to alleviate and manage the stress, no matter what the source. Try some of the suggestions below and see if you begin to manage your stress and bring greater calmness to your life.
1. In times of extreme stress, elevate self-care to your highest priority. Although the tendency for many is to neglect self-care when dealing with very stressful times, it is when it is needed most. In order to have the stamina to get through difficult times, make sure you continue to exercise, eat well, and get the rest and sleep needed. Remember, if you fall apart, you’ll be no good to anyone else.
2. Breathe! Recognize the signals your body gives you when the stress is mounting. For some it’s tension in the neck. Others feel knots in their stomachs, tense muscles, aching heads. For most, breathing becomes shallow. The moment you feel these sensations, take three or four deep, cleansing breaths. Use a mantra such as “calm” or “relax”. You’ll be amazed at how some of the tension will release, and allow you to think clearly rather than feel panicked.
3. Make an appointment with yourself for “me” time. In order to handle the little stresses of every day life, and the big storms that come our way, it is important to have breaks to rest, rejuvenate and nourish the soul. Take a bath, read a novel or inspirational book, walk the dog, meditate or write in a journal. Do anything that makes you feel revived and strong.
4. Nourish your personal relationships. When the stress builds, it is so easy to lose sight of our greatest source of comfort and support; those we love and care about. Schedule a date night with your spouse or significant other. Have lunch with a friend. Call someone who makes you laugh and fills you with joy. The time you take to nourish relationships will pay you back with a reduction in your stress level, and the renewed strength to handle what must be done.
5. Take mini-vacations often. Even short breaks from routine can have a powerful impact on managing stress. A long weekend away, one night out of town, an afternoon off from work, even an hour escape to get a massage can melt stress and make you feel as if you’ve been on vacation.
6. Surround yourself with positive people. Whenever possible, reduce your exposure to individuals who drain your energy, or those who seem wired and stressed all the time. We really do take on the mood and temperament of those around us. Spending time with happy, optimistic and calm people can help us feel those emotions as well.
7. Stay in the present and enjoy what life has to offer. When we spend time worrying about what may happen, or ruminating over problems or circumstances of the past, we miss out on what’s going on in the moment. Practice staying fully engaged in what you are doing and whom you are with. Stressing over what has happened or may happen won’t change anything except your enjoyment of life.
8. Try to find the humor in life’s ironies. Remind yourself that life is filled with unexpected trials and tribulations use humor and laughter to help you cope, and remember, as my Mom always says, “This too shall pass!”
Identity Magazine is all about empowering women to get all A’s in the game of life — Accept. Appreciate. Achieve.TM Every contributor and expert answer the Identity 5 questions in keeping with our theme. As a team, we hope to inspire and motivate ourselves and inspire you to get all A’s.
What have you accepted in your life that took time, physically or mentally?
Over time and with maturity, I’ve accepted that there are many things that will happen that I cannot control. People will disappoint you, loved ones get sick, opportunities don’t turn out the way you’ve hoped. But, I’ve learned to stay proactive about the things I can control, such as my healthy habits and my reactions to others and events. Most importantly, I’ve learned to let go and accept the things I can’t control and have faith that things work out in the end, and troubled times pass.
What do you appreciate about yourself and within your life?
I appreciate my energy level and my discipline. Because of both, I get lots of my goals met and enjoy the process. And I have the energy after working all day to enjoy my family, friends and leisure time. I also greatly appreciate having a husband in my life who is self-sufficient, independent and secure. I travel a lot, and I know he can keep himself entertained and take care of the household, himself, and my dog! I appreciate his warm welcome when I return!
What is one of your most rewarding achievements in life? What goals do you still have?
Without a doubt, my greatest achievement is raising my daughters to become lovely young women who follow their dreams, aren’t afraid to take risks, and always stay connected to family. Next would be creating my entrepreneurial business. I am proud to earn a living working for myself and do work that I am passionate about, which is meaningful and impacts others. Right now the goal I am working on is creating information products and home-study programs that will allow many to benefit from coaching psychology in a self-paced, highly affordable format.
What is your not-so-perfect way? What imperfections and quirks create your Identity?
If I was perfect, I’d never “slip” trying to control what my family members eat, or pushing too hard on taking better care of themselves. It’s that “being in control” thing that does still occasionally creep up on me. But it’s that exact imperfection that creates my Identity! I’m so passionate about “self-care” and doing everything you can to stay healthy, that it makes me the “lovable health nut” my friends and family refer to me as.
How would you complete the phrase “I Love My…?”
I Love My Life – most of the time, anyway! I’ve a great family, wonderful friends, a business I am passionate about which gives me the flexibility to do many things that bring me joy. Such as travel to LA to see my daughter, or fly to Florida to visit my folks, and continue to work. I’ve got many interests which I pursue, such as travel, theatre, hiking, biking or reading. Despite the many trials and tribulations that I’ve faced (as we all have), I greet most days with energy, enthusiasm, excitement, and a great sense of gratitude for the many blessings in my life. My relationship with Identity Mag is one of them!