Before we go into creating the plan let's delve into the various types of stress and their impact on both mental and physical health. We'll discuss stress management techniques such as mindfulness and meditation. And then, i'll provide a step-by-step guide to crafting your personalised stress management plan and highlight the long-term benefits of mastering stress in your busy life.
Maybe you were like me and didn't have a lot of modelling around what it looks like to ask others for emotional support in a healthy interdependent way.
And maybe you have started to question the idea that having it all together and being able to do it all is the only way to feel a sense of value.
Types of Stress and Their Impact: You may experience several types of stress and they may rank higher or lower in your body depending where your priorities lie:
Work-Related Stress: Wether you own your own business or work for a company the deadlines, demanding clients, and workplace pressure can lead to stress, affecting your focus and job satisfaction. And if you are someone who likes to be seen as having it all together this can be an added pressure. It's often those of us who seem to have it all together and always manage to get everything done, who put the most pressure on ourselves.
Family and Home Stress: After your busy day you may put pressure on yourself to cook a healthy meal, do chores, you may be trying to raise well balanced little people, or you may be trying to conceive and finding it not as easy as you thought it would be and trying keep yourself mentally and physically resilient to these challenges all at the same time which can all be a bit overwhelming, leading to both mental and physical strain.
Financial Stress: Not to mention dealing with the increase in cost of living. I paid £4 for a coffee the other day! Money is always an interesting subject and we each have different relationships with money and there can be some emotional stuff around money as well which can make things like managing budgets, bills, and financial goals stressful and impact your overall well-being.
Personal Expectations : Striving to hold it all together and be a good mother, partner, friend, daughter.. can create stress. And you and I both know that the images on social media do not tell the full story but when you are feeling low already and you see perfect pictures of people leading their 'best life' it can lead to self-doubt and burnout.
Health-Related Stress: Concerns about your health, that back pain that just won't budge, family health, or caring for poorly loved ones can add another layer of stress. When we feel stressed and anxious this can lead us to catastrophise and think of worst case scenarios with regards to our health.
Phew, how did you feel as you read through this list? What did you notice in your body? Did you feel constriction, tightness, pressure?
Let's begin to unwind our beliefs around only being of value if we are always holding it together for everyone around us. Instead we might work towards having the courage to be vulnerable by owning where we need support, and most importantly being willing to receive it when it shows up.
Effective Stress Management Techniques: Considering all of this, here are some of my favourite stress management techniques that can easily fit into your routine:
Mini-Moments of mindfulness: Incorporate mini mindfulness practices into your day, such as deep breaths during stressful meetings orienting to the present moment or mindful eating during lunch breaks.
Expressive Journaling: Dedicate a few minutes each day to jot down your thoughts and feelings. This can help you process stressors and gain clarity. I like to do this from a body based perspective as I tend to over analyse and get stuck in looping thoughts sometimes. Instead I write what am I noticing in my body in response to a thought or situation.
Short Meditation Breaks: Even just a 5-minute meditation session can rejuvenate your mind and reduce stress. You can use an app I can share some of my meditation practices with you or you can siply watch your breath for two minutes.
What is essential?: 80 percent of your results will come from 20 percent of our actions. Which means you need to figure out which 20 percent is essential and what are the things that you can either delegate our outsource or simply say 'no' when necessary to prevent overwhelm. Making time for the things that light you up and maybe noticing that these things actually where you can have the greatest impact. More on this next week.
Exercise as Stress Release: Movement helps to nourish the structures of the body. Endorphins which are released during exercise are the body's natural pain killers helping to reduce pain and discomfort. A little and often works well. What is the best exercise for releasing stress and tension? ...the one that makes you feel good. However if yoga is something you love I will be sharing some effective nervous system calming techniques on Cracking the Code of Stress and Nurturing Resilience at the end of this month.
Creating Your Personalised Stress Management Plan: Now, let's create a personalised stress management plan tailored to your life and body.
Identify what matters: Make a list of the activities you did each day for a month. Put a star next to the ones that were essential and that light you up.
Choose What Resonates: I think it's pretty easy to get overwhelmed by the amount of self-care practices you could be doing and even perhaps stopped in your tracks with what you 'should' be doing. If you lean more towards perfectionism make sure you keep an eye out for this showing up as you work on your plan. Less is more. What I would suggest is to choose one practice that resonates with you, take your schedule into consideration also notice what feels good in your body.
Define: Make your goals achievable stress management goals, such as dedicating 10 minutes a day to mindfulness practices or allocating time for self-care activities. If we can consistently show up for ourself in an achievable way it also gives a sense of completion satisfaction.
Learn to ask for support: This is easier said than done. Especially for those of us who believe that our value hinges on our ability to contribute and be productive. Note with this one that each of us might have places where we find it easy to ask for help and other areas where it feels more challenging. Reach out to people who feel supportive you can also join our community to share your journey and insights.
Track Your Progress: Some of the things I hear with my clients is that there is either not enough time or money to do x or y.You will want to keep checking if your priorities line up with reality. Keep track of how much time you truly spend on things each week. Compare the reality of your time with your priorities. Do you really dedicate time to what matters to you? If not, what is in the way? What can you do to make your true priorities number one in your life? Make appropriate changes so your reality matches what really matters most to you.
Long-Term Benefits of developing your awareness around Stress: By taking an active approach to managing stress, you can unlock a range of long-term benefits:
Feeling of genuine connection with yourself
Strengthened relationships through effective communication and emotional well-being.
A greater sense of fulfilment and life satisfaction.
You are unique and your life is distinct therefore the stressors and demands in your life are as well. However, with a personalised stress management plan tailored to your needs, incorporating mindfulness and other stress management techniques, you can take control of your well-being.
Know that needing help is not a sign of weakness. It's a sign of being human. Being open to receiving helps you to thrive and become the best version of yourself.