Don’t just wish for it. Get a grip on stress to create a calmer happier life...
Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle all the way….‼
It’s such a jolly time of the year‼! So festive, talk of parties and gatherings, gifts and glitter. Everybody SO loves this time of the year, right !?!?!?!
I fear that’s wrong.
Between end-of-year work requirements and commitments, adding in the obligatory functions and festivities, finding the time to do the Christmas shopping and importantly, the money, along with all the running around required, it turns out that this time of the year can be anything but jolly for many! Infact it can and is often quite quite stressful.
But THAT’S not what it’s all about! And after another whole year, it’s not what we need!
Today’s update is about understanding stress a little better and my 5 top tips to ease the stress-squeeze this holiday season and beyond.
The most important thing to understand about stress is that no matter where it comes from our body reacts the same, that prolonged stress is damaging and it puts us on the path towards chronic ill-health.
We all know that feeling of churning stomach (shutting down of digestion), rapid breath (getting ready to fight or flee), sweaty palms and pounding heart (adrenaline coursing through our veins).
Depending on the individual – because stress is quite personal – at this time of the year it can be finding the money for aaaall the Christmas presents, missing a deadline/running late, dealing with conflict (who else has that “one” relative who manages to upset everybody each year) and forgetting a task and/or request. These things are all stressful – and thus stressors in our world.
To our bodies, though, a stress response can be triggered by consuming a food that our body is sensitive to, lack of sleep, dehydration, lack – or wrong – exercise, a tech overload and even loneliness. And the stress response – especially a prolonged “attack” sets up an inflammatory response in our body and hello, sleepless night, poor digestion, weight gain, headaches and systemic inflammation… that path to chronic illness I mentioned.
To get a grip on the environmental stressors – those things that set you off that you’re more likely to be able to control, the critical thing is to understand our own triggers. And that today is my number 1 top tip.
Know your own triggers and get real!
It’s powerful to know in advance what is going to make you feel uncomfortable right through to being completely stressed out. And work accordingly. This is about getting real with yourself, being ok with your own needs and drivers and be brave with action and deed to minimise the impact of stress. Pause, what gets your heart racing, for all the wrong reasons? What makes you feel really uncomfortable? Once you can identity these, you can plan for them better. Hate being late? Set alarms and plan differently and accordingly. Once you get real with you, it’s easier to plan to keep things stress-free.
Secondly, check in and ask “is this real?” Does it deserve my reaction and my anxiety? Most of what we worry about – stress about – never actually happens‼!
When stress does hit THE best thing you can do is press pause and BREATHE. I know I mentioned it last month – it really is powerful to remind you here. Nose breathing in and of itself helps to down-regulate your body’s stress response and get control of that pounding heart and shallow breathe. So take a moment, close your mouth and inhale slowly. Inhale for 4 counts, hold for 5 and exhale for 6. The longer exhalation also helps restore the Parasympathetic over-ride and calm your body down. So when Uncle Jake upsets everyone at the table this year, first pause…and breathe….. 😉
This is all about what I call “stacking”… Beware “adding to your stress” …it looks like this: “and this went wrong, and this happened and then she called and this went wrong…”. We add to our list of reasons to be stressed and elevate the emotions attached to the list with each addition. We need to do the opposite and look at each stressor separately. Compartmentalise! We can generally only deal with one thing at the one time so to keep control over which challenge we’re working to remedy is a far less stressful approach - don’t you think?
There is an expression that “action conquers fear”. Depending on what has triggered you, consider whether action is going to ease the paralysis of stress. I like the quote from the movie We Bought A Zoo: “sometimes all you need is 20 seconds of insane courage”. When fear has its grip, consider what action you can take to conquer it. And what does 20 seconds of insane courage look like? A phone call? Speaking your truth? A clarifying question rather acceptance of opinion? You will be amazed at how you feel once action is taken. When you “do” something it feels so much better than having fear or stress paralyse you.
Each of our body has a preferred state of being relaxed and calm. That’s our homeostasis. Its what our body is working to get us to most of the time. Life is so busy, so full, so over-connected, so demanding, so pressured, so MUCH, we MUST remember to rest. What is rest to you? Beyond sleep (which is imperative for our health), how do you unwind, feed your soul and help your breath normalise. Creating meaningful connections is a powerful way of refilling your cup (you can’t pour from an empty one). Self care, rest and rejuvenating activities is not a luxury. It is an imperative. We must allow our body to be restored to a calm and relaxed state regularly if we are to create sustainable confidence, health and vitality.
So now is the time to take a moment and ponder your own individual stress list. What are your triggers? How do you normally deal with them? And what else could you do to help you cope better and re-balance faster? Remember the little things that add up through the day are largely able to be avoided with a bit of planning.
My shine fundamentals point you to sleep, hydration, I matter (self care), nutrition and exercise. A lack or poor version of each can push to towards physiological stress, so aside from the heated family conversations, the late arrival of guests, the stretched budgets and the running around that is associated with this coming month, be sure to keep an eye on the shine fundamentals to help your body cope this silly season and beyond…
I provide stressed, (often silently) sick and stuck Executives & Entrepreneurs knowledge and tools to recalibrate and create clarity, calm confidence and control, a body they adore and the energy to embrace and chase their dreams. When they work with me, they have the know-how to transform a life of “fine” so they Live, Look and Feel Fabulous.
It is my very great pleasure to be running a workshop for you at the upcoming ICB Annual Summit. I hope to meet you so please be sure to come and say hi! See you next week!
Simone is ICB's resident wellness coach and her Wellbeing Workshop is on Day 2 of the Bookkeepers Summit:
Tuesday 26th November