When stress strikes, it seemingly comes out of nowhere. Yet, there are subtle signs that can be easy to miss when you are absorbed in stress activating situations. One of the prime suspects can be our failure to look after ourselves and, in some respects, disconnect from our own intuitive feelings.
Moreover, how much of stress is caused by our own unrealistic and high expectations of ourselves?
What if you could not only recognise the early signs of stress but more importantly, integrate preventative measures to reduce the potential for stress showing up in your life? This is completely possible and implementing these strategies could make a huge difference when it comes to taking care of your emotional wellbeing.
A common relaxation activity for many, is to ‘chill out’ in front of the TV. Whilst this can seem to do the job, if you don’t feel relaxed afterwards you might perhaps consider if this is in fact achieving your objective. And if not, what other activities might?
One of the key elements to stress prevention is to integrate activities into your lifestyle that induce a calm and relaxed state. This allows your body to deal better with periods of stress – after all we can’t control external events that might cause stress, all we can do is manage how we respond to these events.
What activities would help you to achieve this? Taking up an enjoyable hobby or sport? Going for a mindful walk in nature? Having a space or activity at home dedicated to relaxation – for example your own hot tub spa?
It doesn’t matter what you choose, as long as it is something you can do regularly and allows you to relax and unwind.
Our awareness of our own thoughts and feelings can be a gateway to preventing stress from becoming an issue. It begins with understanding yourself, your triggers and any behaviours which you consider might not be as helpful to you as you’d like – i.e. those frustrating self-sabotaging behaviours.
When we are stressed, our heart beat increases, our muscles tense and our thoughts race. Take time to connect with your mind and your body. Be aware of the how you are feeling in each moment, notice when you have negative emotions and trace back what happened directly before the emotion.
A great way to improve your mind body connection can be through regular meditation practice. There are lots of different approaches to meditation, so consider all the options available to you.
What we put into our bodies has a powerful affect on our bodies – more so than any of us can truly comprehend. Food is essentially our fuel and well you can’t put diesel in a petrol engine and expect it to function normally, can you?!
Highly processed foods affect all manner of functions in the body, from raising blood sugar to disrupting hormone levels. Everything in the body is interconnected and as such, providing your body with wholesome nutritious food every day can help to better regulate your mood and stress levels.
That’s not to say you shouldn’t treat yourself but limit these treats to special occasions where you can.
Stress can easily show up in life and its most often when we are simply overwhelmed with too much ‘stuff’ going on – too much pressure, too much to think about, too much to fit in.
To help with this aspect, it can be a good idea to become really good at sifting through your to do list and prioritising the urgent and important actions above the rest. It allows your brain to focus on a smaller number of conscious elements rather than a million and one things, which you clearly can’t action all at once. By filtering down the volume of tasks in your day to what actually needs to be actioned, you’re more likely to view everyday activities as more manageable and less overwhelming.
Additionally, another useful stress prevention behaviour to adopt is learning how to say ‘no’! Just have a good think before agreeing to do something, ask yourself can I realistically achieve this. If you ‘must’ do it, be assertive and clearly set your boundary of a realistic deadline and timeframe.
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