In some walks of life talking about how busy we are is almost a badge of honour, an indication of your success, but there is a big difference between being super busy and chronically busy. The latter is just a recipe for disaster when you just feel terribly overwhelmed and constantly under fire. When you can’t escape from stress it can become a physical problem, and may lead to a range of health issues such as:
- Muscle pain
- High blood pressure
- Weakened immune system
- Heart disease
Letting go of stress isn’t easy. Studies show many disregard warnings from their doctor about the impacts of stress on their health.
The truth is that we all need to take a good look at ourselves and take action to boost our wellbeing in all areas of our lives. If you are suffering from chronic stress, you may possibly be experiencing other health issues. So here are some simple steps you can take to stop the cycle and start getting healthier.
Cut back on commitments
Being asked to help makes you feel good. You feel needed and valued. But saying yes to too many things can lead to being overwhelmed and stressed. Instead of focusing on the good you’re doing, you’re struggling to balance all the balls you’re juggling.
If the projects you’ve said yes to are work-related, talk to your manager to get a handle on which are most urgent. Just talking through the list of tasks will in itself give you clarity and establish revised time plans. This will help you offload some of the stress and anxiety you could be feeling. As for activities out of work, look closely at what is most important to you, then cry off from some of them or ask for help with the others. Sometimes you just have to tell people that you’ve taken on too much and need a break. And for now, stop saying yes until you feel like you’re back in control of your life.
Ask for help
The people who care about you are there for more than just the good times, so don’t be afraid to ask them for help. You’ll be amazed at how many people can relate to what you’re going through and they may have good ideas for how they can support you.
Do something good for your health
Committing to one small healthy habit may help combat the effects of stress and put you on a path towards taking more health-enhancing steps in the future. Start simply by committing to drinking more water or cutting out caffeine or alcohol. Take a daily 15 minute walk to clear your head and get some fresh air. Try and do this at lunch time – you’ll be surprised how much better you feel in the afternoon. Add fresh fruit to your diet- it’s amazing what a big difference this can make. A banana or apple a day is great mood food.
Get better sleep
A lack of sleep puts immense long-term strain on your body as well as switching on the hormones that make you gain weight. Knowing that you’re not getting enough sleep adds to your overall sense of stress by creating an endless loop, as the more you worry about lack of sleep, the harder it is to get to sleep. Better sleep habits can make a big difference. Try going to sleep at the same time every night and waking up at the same time every day. Make sure your room is dark, quiet and cool- temperature really matters when you’re trying to sleep. Turn off the TV and your devices two hours prior to going to bed.
Meditation has been proven to help lower stress levels and clear the mind. There are plenty of apps, books and videos to help you learn the basics. Adding just ten minutes a day of meditation can make a big difference. Start by just being aware of your breathing and don’t get irritated by your lack of concentration – it will eventually get there if you don’t give up first!