We know stress impacts people’s ability to cope with the physical and emotional realities of daily living. Not your ability right? If you are at all like most of the people I know, professionally and personally, you take on a lot, you do you duties well at work and at home, you can cope. What to do, though, when the day to day demands start manifesting as pain, nervous stomach, head aches, back aches… making what you to you need to do for your family, for your work, more challenging? Usually the resolution for such as problem is the one that seems most paradoxical; take a break from trying to figure out how to do it all, to refocus and recharge and do so on a regular basis.
Taking a break is not the same as throwing in the towel and showing a sign of weakness. Rather is a show of strength. To stop in the middle of seems to be a go-go-longer-faster-more environment, takes discipline and fortitude; two qualities that surely foster our ability to cope, and cope well. Don’t believe me, take a look at a Stress So Bad It Hurts—Really, a March 17, 2009 Wall Street Journal article that is a precise and concise exploration of the mind-body connection.
So again, what to do when stress gets under your skin, in your body and makes you want to reach for the antacids or something stronger? Do not settle for less than the best, as the sayings go, you get back what you put in. I am not talking about quantity, but I am talking about quality. The quality of what we do to nurture our own resources, physical, emotion, financial and otherwise, has a lot to do with how we live and experience our live.
You are the keeper and steward of your life. Each of us is responsible for how we manage our daily task, and the stress that goes along with living. In practical terms, here are some tried and true, back to basics strategies, to nurture your resources and help to ensure they of the highest quality for you.
Get moving, literally physically moving. Break out the calendar and schedule time for exercise- this appointment should be as important as getting your kids to the doctors or your budget meeting with the boss.
Get some rest, regular sleep and enough of it… not just tonight, and tomorrow, but everyday, every week and of every month. Do something relaxing before you get ready for bed, like taking a warm shower or bath.
Keep in touch with your social connections, and not just through an electronic social networking format, pick-up the phone, make a date with friend to walk to the local coffee shop, park or someplace and catch-up. If you need to break out the calendar again to schedule these “appointments” do it.
Eat, but eat well, balanced meals. If you are like me, when stress hits hard, I lust for comfort foods, like baked macaroni and cheese, dark chocolate and red wine. Experience has taught me that if I indulge too often, I’ll feel like a one-night stand. Instead I indulge a little and make sure my plate is rounded out with a large salad and keep the wine to a single glass and the chocolate to a single square. I don’t always like doing that, but I respect myself in the morning and like the results I get.
Figure out what your stress triggers are: keep a log, or diary of when and where you feel symptoms of stress, like tension headaches after staff meetings, GI problems after meeting with a particular client, a pain in your side after reading your email. Once you can establish a pattern of when and how stress maybe manifesting in your body, you can step back and begin to consider the possibilities for how to change things up.
None of these things will guarantee that stress won’t creep up your legs causing cramps, but they will ensure that you are prepared for those pains when they do show up.
Best the best keeper of your life. Live it well. Live it fully.