Stress is something that we just can’t avoid. It’s part of life. However, what you can do is manage your response to stress. You can change how you react and the decisions that you make about your health and well-being. There are simple steps that you can take to reduce not only your day to day stress but also your situational stress.
What is Situational Stress?
Situational stress is stress that comes from being in a scary situation that you have no control over. It might be anything from a near collision on the highway to a coworker talking behind your back. It’s separate from the general day to day life stress that most of us deal with.
Simple Things You Can Do To Reduce Situational Stress.
When something scary or acutely stressful happens, your mindset can make all the difference.
- In this situation, you can try taking 5-10 deep breaths. Breathe through your nose and out your mouth.
- Go for a walk, get outside. Nature has a way of calming our senses and lowering the stress response. For a double whammy, get outside and take 10 deep breaths.
- Pet a puppy (or hold a baby). These activities release oxytocin (a feel good hormone) that counteracts the effects of cortisol
- Call a friend
- Listen to your favorite feel good music
- Find things your grateful for
- Look for that silver lining
It can take some time to teach yourself to go to these responses. Be patient with yourself. You might even copy this list onto your phone or a piece of paper that you carry with you so that when you’re dealing with situational stress, you can quickly access something to help reduce the impact.
But what about the everyday stress? This is the stress that is slowly killing most of us. The impacts of chronic stress and high cortisol levels harm your digestion, make you gain weight, negatively impact your sleep, cause you to have unhealthy cravings and make poor food choices, and can harm your immune system. Chronic stress is seriously destructive.
When I started meditating there were days in the beginning where I could only manage one minute of meditation. Over a few weeks I increased it to three minutes and then five. Now I meditate anywhere from 10-20 minutes a day, usually 10. The point is that you don’t have to meditate for hours.
Start small, with something you KNOW you can manage and increase it over time as it fits into your life. The point isn’t to add more stress to your life by forcing meditation. Try a minute or two each day and see how it goes.
Skip the processed shit. I’m sorry, I know that it’s easier to prepare processed foods, but you’re not doing your body or your future self any favors. Processed foods cause disease.
They cause weight gain, and they worsen your body’s response to stress. A recent study showed that eating whole/natural foods (with no processed foods) led to better weight loss than a low carb diet.
I don’t mean park farther from the mall and walk those steps kind of exercise, I mean real exercise where your heart rate gets elevated for at least 30 minutes a day kind of exercise. I mean sprint, lift, and learn how to do new things with your body type of exercise. Go learn kickboxing.
Find a pole and learn how to pole gymnastics (Mallakhamba). Take a Barre class, head to the CrossFit gym or join a local running club. Exercise releases endorphins which help you feel better and help you better manage day to day stress.
Create Systems for Yourself
Systems are those organizational processes that support you to be more organized and streamlined. They also support you to have more free time. For example, packing your lunch the night before is a system. Putting your workout clothes in your car is a system. Meal prep on Sunday is a system.
Going to bed every night at the same time is a system. Systems are something that you have to create yourself. Knowing your habit tendency can help you create systems that support you. Also, taking small steps toward new habits is often easier to embrace that trying to make big changes to your life.
Finally, make time for joy in your day. Whether that’s going for a walk in nature, a daily dance in your living room, a good book, or brunch with friends, joy is the opposite of stress. It’s the yin to that yang.
If you’re struggling to manage stress or create habits and systems that support you to feel less stressed in your day to day, let’s connect. I offer a free Simplified Success call. I’ll help you identify the top three obstacles that are getting in your way. Whether you want to lose weight, reduce stress, have more energy, look better naked, or all of those combined, we can get started on a plan created specifically for YOU.