Today we have more stress in our lives than ever before – good stress, bad stress, red stress, blue stress (my little ode to Dr. Seuss). No matter what kind of stress it is, a real crisis or an imagined one, stress is incredibly harmful to our body, mind and soul.
Here are my favourite self-care habits for dealing with stress:
1. Get in the habit of noticing.
Take an inventory of all the things that just don't feel right in your life or that you know are causing you stress. For example, when you approach certain people, places or situations do you feel more stress and tension? Once you have your list in place, look at what you can change yourself, and do it. You can also use this list to predict stressful situations before they occur.
2. Get in the habit of asking for help.
For what you can't change yourself, you need a team. Build a team of experts to handle your list. A coach, at the top of the list, will help with the big picture and will keep you honest about your efforts. Other team members might be a family doctor who listens to you, a financial planner, a massage therapist and an exercise partner.
3. Get in the habit of bouncing back.
Think of Plan A as your basic self-care plan while stress is under control. Now imagine something happens and you are under stress. Instead of abandoning all self-care because you can't do it all, have a Plan B ready beforehand.
4. Get in the habit of relaxing.
If you practice relaxation techniques (breathing, meditation, imagery, music) every day, then when stressful situations come up you'll have the tools at your fingertips.
5. Get in the habit of gratitude.
Our attitude comes from our emotions and our emotions come from our thoughts. Thinking about what we're grateful for and what we're good at can keep things positive. It's not about shying away from what's challenging you – it's about approaching life from a place of strength and not as a victim.
6. Get in the habit of creating.
Experiment with a new recipe in the kitchen, write a poem, bang a drum, do a craft, take a dance class or do something else that feels creative to you.
7. Get in the habit of putting your stuff away.
Physical clutter can really impact on mental, emotional and physical health. Get rid of things that don't make you happy when you look at them. Organize your stuff. Find a place for everything and keep it there.
8. Get in the habit of breathing.
This is the simplest and quickest way to relax yourself in a stressful situation. The minute you focus on your breathing it automatically gets slower and deeper.
9. Get in the habit of daydreaming.
Take yourself away on an imaginary holiday. Just close your eyes and go! Picture somewhere you've been or somewhere you've dreamed of.
10. Get in the habit of giggling.
Laugh out loud every day.
Don't let your stress get the better of you! Which one of these strategies can you apply this week to manage your stress?
Copyright 2005, Genuine Coaching Services. All rights reserved.
Linda Dessau, MTA, CPCC, is a self-care expert, accredited music therapist and certified life coach. Learn more about using singing for stress management, personal growth and spiritual development at http://www.singoutyourstress.com, where you can download the FREE report, "Top 10 Ways to Sing Out Your Stress".