Do you feel stressed? Does this question seem as annoying as stress itself? If you answered “yes” to one (or both) of these questions, take a minute out of your busy day to read on. April is Stress Awareness Month and the perfect time to address this seemingly ever-present issue. Chronic stress does a body bad, but you may not know just how bad. Evidence suggests that 80 to 85 percent of all disease and illness is stress-related. According to the American Institute of Stress, stress can have physical manifestations, affecting your digestive tract, muscles, heart, and even hair and skin. Life is too short to be in a constant state of stress. Check out these tips to help you better manage the stressors in your life:
Make lists. Just as grocery lists keep you from loading your cart with impulse items, priority lists can help you from overloading your plate at work or home. Prioritize tasks by what needs to be completed within the week, month, and not-so-distant future. Physically checking things off of a list is actually quite gratifying.
Put down the plates. No, I’m not talking about food. I’m talking about being a plate-twirler (like in a circus). In other words, trying to impress or “wow” many different people by accomplishing many different tasks, or making commitments to many different people. When we have too many plates twirling in the air, one is bound to come crashing down.
Keep moving. A five-minute brisk walk or stretch break can work wonders for your mind…and your body will thank you too.
Embrace the power of “no”. This one probably won’t fly at work, but can be useful when it comes to extended family, friends, and other commitments. Planning and practicing polite responses such as “No thank you” or “Thanks so much for asking but I won’t be able to do that” will save you from squandering endless hours trying to fulfill someone else’s priorities at the expense of your own.
Why not take 20 or 30 minutes to think about what is most important to you? This is different from a to-do list because it centers around areas of importance – not specific tasks. It might include things like spending time with family or friends, advancing professionally, being a good listener, getting and staying organized, improving eating habits, getting fit…the potential list is endless, but just pick a few areas that are really most important to you. Then, in the heat of the moment when ten things need your attention at once, you can refer to the list to help you remember what your real priorities are. Be sure to put you – and your health – at or near the top of the list. Keeping a healthy body and a calm mind is worth the investment and will make you more productive and happy in the long run.