Oh My! The Stress is Real!

Hello Healthy followers! It’s been quite awhile since I posted here, but with good reason: I moved to a beautiful new home here on my island paradise in southeast NC! This decision came about very quickly a month ago, and these last weeks have been filled with a lot of activity, AND quite a bit of stress and insanity. Now that I’m settled, I wanted to jump on and share how I dealt with the non-stop uncertainty and stress, hoping that it can inspire you to use these methods when your life is a bit chaotic and out of order.

SO, just to touch briefly on the insanity of our move…oh my! The housing market is currently nuts in much of the country, and we happened upon a brand new build on my tiny island out of sheer boredom on a rainy, windy, March weekend. We jumped quickly, and followed up with 4 weeks of nonstop moving of closing dates at the last minute, rescheduling movers, installers, cleaners, over and over. I’m a bit of an over planner, so my house was packed 2 days after our offer was accepted, leaving me with no space to workout, little kitchen equipment, and surviving on salad and scrambled eggs as dates moved and moved again. Each day was filled with calls and emails about appraisers not showing up, finances being raked over to the finite detail, and paperwork not being filed. I found myself waking each morning, hopeful and happy, only to spend the day slowly getting dragged down the house buying rabbit hole, literally wanting to just go to bed at 5pm each night just to shut myself off from it. It was most certainly NOT like an episode of HGTV!

After the second rescheduling of our entire existence, I started to approach each day as my OWN health and wellness coach. I became very mindful and deliberate with my actions and RE-actions during the day. I couldn’t do my morning workout because of the boxes piled in my rooms, so I bundled up and headed out in the damp coldness to get some brisk miles in. I signed up for a pilates reformer sample class (and became obsessed with it), and pulled my bike out for a ride whenever the wind and rain subsided. At one point, I told my husband, “Don’t tell me about the changes or reschedules, just say GO when everything is fixed.” That, alone, solved a lot of my stress issues! There were days when it started to get to me, just sheer frustration, and I found myself instinctively deep breathing, without thought-and it felt so good! In the end, things worked out, we moved, got settled, and it’s wonderful. But when the stressors kick in, it’s s important to know HOW to react to them in a positive manner!

2020 and the pandemic really put the focus on our stressors and our stress levels. A recent Forbes article stated that 1 in 5 American’s experienced a physical reaction of stress when just thinking about the pandemic. The economy, unemployment, isolation, working and schooling from home, and health concerns were/are reasons for a significantly increased level of personal stress in the last year; Rightfully so, as these were very un-chartered waters, for all of us.

Daily stressors, however, the things we deal with in a “normal” existence, and how we deal with them starts with your mindset. There is no way to escape it – everyone has at least some type of stress in life. You might have mild, moderate, or extreme stress depending on a number of different situations. Stress comes from just about everywhere, including at home, relationships with significant others, family or friends, work, school, finances, and so much more, it’s, unfortunately, just a part of life. 

Not only is it normal to have stress, it is also normal to struggle with your mindset and have it impact your stress levels. Here are some things to know about how your mindset might affect your stress, and what you can do about it.

~Try to move away from a negative mindset when the stress starts to build. Regardless of how much or how little stress you have, having a negative mindset is only going to make it worse. Your life tends to spiral a little when you have constant negative thoughts going through your head. This is why it often feels like it “keeps getting worse”.  Much of our stress is all about how we perceive things and react to things. Even at the most stressful moment, try to move yourself away from the moment for just a brief time. Call a friend, take a walk, pray, or meditate. Do something to make your self feel calmer, or at least supported.

~Try a breathing technique!  One of my favorites is the 4-7-8 technique. To do this, exhale completely through your mouth, releasing all air in a big WHOOSH! Then, breathe in slowly through the nose with a mental count of 4. Hold your breath for a count of 7, then release through the mouth with another WHOOSH to the count of 8. Repeat 4 times for maximum benefit, and hopefully, you will feel a sense of relaxation take over your body and mind.

~Exercise it out! If your stressor is out of your control, and you just need a release from it until you can deal better, consider a little exercise. Turn on some music and dance, go for a quick jog, throw some boxing punches into the air, do some karate kicks, or just go for a walk. This type of action will release you muscles and you mind for a bit, and help you re-evaluate your reaction with a clearer mind.

~Try a simple meditation. Sit in a relaxing position, scan your body for tension, notice your feelings and thoughts, and then try to release them as you breathe deeply. Focus on each breath, as you inhale in, say mentally, “ I am…” as you exhale, “at peace.” Place focus on this mantra, and breathing, until you feel calmer.

~Perhaps some simple yoga is more your style of stress relief. Poses that help relieve stress are very basic and easy to do. Child pose, cat and cow, and corpse pose with focused breathing can help relieve stress and tension throughout the entire body.

~If you’re not big on exercise, yoga, or mediation, focus your efforts and mind on an activity that is repetitive and joyful. Gardening, cleaning, knitting, journaling, or even sleeping are activities that can help you relax while removing yourself from the stress you may feel.

Of course, there are some instances where a little stress can be a good thing, but again this all depends on your mindset. If you look at stress as just a challenge or a sign that you need to switch something up in your life, it can actually motivate you to grow and change and get better. Stress in our lives can be a great teacher for things that need to be attended to, changed, or removed completely. Listen to your body, tune into to what is causing your stress, and when your mind and body are calmer, consider how those things might be better dealt with to avoid the same stress in the future.

If you’re looking for someone to help you manage your stress, learn meditation techniques, or help with journaling inspirations to change your life, contact me! We can put together a plan and package to suit your specific needs!