What keeps Americans awake at night? For most of us and especially small business, executives and health care providers, as well as caregivers it’s stress. There’s just too much to do, and not enough time to do it all.
We push ourselves to do more and more…
We are a population that’s dependent on medication to get to sleep and get through the next day. This is often the result of our increased usage of technology and life-style choices we choose to engage in.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that 70% to 80% of all disease and illness is stress-related. Add to that the fact that the needs for an estimated 75% to 90% of visits to physicians are stress-related, and there’s good reason the drug companies are having a field day. It’s not necessary to get all stressed out over stress when there is so much good information and knowledge about how to reduce it. Managing stress well leads to improved physical and psychological health.
As a life and wellness coach I teach these top seven “stress-busters” (stress management techniques) to all my clients that help them dramatically reduce stress and improve the quality of their sleep. The results are life-changing.
- Mindful awareness of thoughts and beliefs – Become aware of what you are thinking and feeling during the day. Are your thoughts negative, fearful or limiting? Do you worry about everything: money, health, and relationships? If you are thinking negative thoughts, you are attracting into your life negative people and unhelpful situations. You are doing the very thing you do not want to do. Try to “let go” of the thought and replace it with a positive belief or image.
- Set Boundaries – If you want to alleviate stress you have to set healthy boundaries. And in the world of business that means setting boundaries with technology. It means un-plugging from cell phones and e-mail at a reasonable time each day. It means not having to be on call 24 hours to answer you phone. Having advanced technology is fabulous but not to the extent that you are unable to sleep or engage in activities without checking your e-mail.
- Quiet The Mind – Mediating before bedtime for ten to twenty minutes can be very helpful for reducing stress and promoting sounder sleep. Sit quietly in a comfortable chair, close your eyes and breathe deeply. Focus on your breath; relax your chest and body. When your mind wanders and you find yourself lost in other thoughts, let the emotion or thoughts go and return your focus to your breathing. This practice works quickly to reduce stress and rebalance your body. Continue for at least ten minutes or until you feel drowsy.
- Exercise, Exercise, Exercise – It’s a great way to release tension and fortify ourselves against the physical effects of stress. Engage in aerobic activity; take a walk, run or swim. Try a new, fun exercise such as NIA, belly-dancing or boxing. Exercising in the evening, however can be counter-productive, particularly if the exercise is vigorous.
- Laugh and Have Fun – Laughter is one of the healthiest antidotes to stress. Take yourself lightly and your work seriously. When we laugh or even smile, blood flow to the brain is increased, endorphins are released, and levels of stress hormones drop. Start to notice how often you smile. People who experience joy, fun and laughter sleep well.
- Diaphragmatic Breathing – The following exercises make use of the breath and can enhance the ability to fall asleep due to their calming effect. Put one hand on your abdomen and close your eyes. Take a deep breath in through your nose and expel it slowly and completely through your mouth. You will feel your belly flatten. Exhale fully, drawing in your abdomen. At the end of each third exhalation, hold your breath for as long as you can. Then repeat the process two or three times, or until you feel sleepy.
- Take Action – Rather than worry, re-live the situation over and over or spend sleepless nights thinking about the consequences, take some action to move the issue forward. Get a wellness coach or a therapist, talk to a friend, and begin journaling… just do something! Procrastination weakens productivity, compounds your anxiety and causes the stressful side-effects of guilt, anger and low self-esteem.
If you need assistance in helping to reduce your stress and improve your life – balance check out our stress management services.
I would love to know how your mange your stress!