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Stop Stressing Your Day Away!


Stop Stressing Your Day Away!
  Nov. 29, 2016


For some, chronic stress seems to be a way of life. There are those that always feel overwhelmed or perceive each day as an epic struggle. For some, psychological disorders may indeed have a major impact on their perception of the world around them - but for most, stress is self-inflicted. Perception of consequence is a key driver but stress may be caused by negative environments, poor decision making, inefficient routines or reactive responses due to lack of insight or poor planning. The holiday season adds further duress, with much due to expectations – added seasonal costs, family responsibilities, travel, and event planning can add significant quantities of stress to an already full plate. Chronic psychological stress provides a host of negative outcomes including:

(a) Reduced immune function

(b) Physical/cognitive fatigue

(c) Weight gain

(d) Promote hormonal changes that can lead to emotional burnout or overtraining.

For many, these issues can be mitigated with simple habitual changes. Consider the following stress mediators to navigate through the Holiday season.

  1. Don’t skip exercise - Regular exercise is probably the best way to reduce chronic stress. Exercise floods your brain with feel-good hormones. Set aside time for activity as if it was a business meeting; make it a key priority in your routine that may not be rescheduled.
  2. Do not lose your snooze - Not attaining adequate sleep can have a major impact on stress perception, which accumulates over a cycle. Try to go to sleep and wake up at the same time even if your schedule is altered, maintaining a healthy circadian rhythm is very important for proper function.
  3. You are what you eat - Poor nutrition will have an impact on energy levels and performance, which in turn will impact your ability to take on stressful tasks throughout the day. Alcohol and high doses of caffeine magnify the problem.
  4. Just say NO - Not knowing how to say no can have an impact on your health; this is common among people-pleasers. Try not to be everything to everyone. Delegate tasks to others when possible and try to make sure your days off provide for relaxation.
  5. You ruminate on negative thoughts – Rather than thinking about all that could possibly go wrong throughout the day look at it from a positive perspective. What can you control that makes the day turn out how you want.
  6. Nobody’s perfect – Striving to be perfect is a failed effort before it starts. No one can be perfect so appreciate what you can do and acknowledge what you can’t. Unrealistic expectations are by definition not real - everything cannot go exactly as planned and how much of that really matters.
  7. It’s not a competition - The over-connected generation creates false perceptions. Much of social media is acting and theatre. If you make your life a “keeping up with the Jones” and believe you’re the only one with imperfections, you exist with false pretenses. Relish in real-life connections – leave the rest for reality TV.
  8. You fail to nurture social ties - Satisfying relationships help one feel fulfilled and reduces stress. This concept is seen in action among those with severe social anxiety who seek out an emotional support dog. Make it a priority to connect with at least one friend or loved one each day.
  9. Live in the moment - Mindlessly checking your phone or allowing your thoughts to race into the past or future takes you from the possible joys of the moment. Try to put all distractions aside for a given time of the day - such as a family activity.

There are various small steps almost anyone could take to help minimize nagging stress which limits one to live life to the fullest. Try to take on 1 change at a time until you find yourself brushing off many of life’s frustrating challenges which once weighed you down like a ton of bricks.

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