Several times in my life, I have been caught in a downward spiral of stress. My initial response to this spiral is to think "I can handle this! I am tough, and this is temporary."
Eventually, I find it difficult to keep the stress manageable and my lifestyle starts to suffer. I eat too much, drink too much, neglect to exercise, lose sleep and cut out contact with friends and family.
Each time I have finally realized that I have to make a choose to continue this downward spiral toward being someone I don't want to be (the Stressed Out Motivational Speaker) or to break the cycle and get back to being Jody, the Fabulous Inspirational and Motivational Speaker.
I have been through this spiral of stress enough times to know that lifestyle changes are the key to stress management. I was recently a motivational speaker on stress management for a stressful careers event (some careers are more stressful than others by nature).
The other stress management motivational speaker reminded us all of how important lifestyle is to conquer stress.
6 Keys to Manage Stress are:
Monitor Overall Stress Awareness.
Trite but true - Knowing really is half the battle. If you are not aware that you are stressed out you will have no hope of recovery.
Observe yourself. Step outside yourself and observe your actions and reactions. If you fly off the handle when you typically wouldn't, you know this is stress. Take the time throughout to identify what you feel and why.
Monitor your stress levels.
Notice how stress levels vary during the day.... When are you most stressed? With whom? Doing what?
Also monitor your physiological conditions like heart rate, energy level, fatigue, and anxiety as clues to your overall stress condition.
Rest and Rejuvenate
The constant, fast paced, go-go-go lifestyle of today suggests most people need to rejuvenate. As a stress management motivational speaker, when I suggest rejuvenation most audiences think I mean either more sleep or taking a vacation but there are simpler methods that can be incorporated into your daily routine.
Here are some other ways to rejuvenate:
Have Fun! Play and fun put you in the present moment where stress will not survive. Stress lives in the past ("I can't BELIEVE I messed that up!") and in the future ("What if I don't get the report finished on time?")
Get enough sleep; your body needs the ammunition that sleep provides.
Schedule personal time and short 'me' breaks throughout your day.
Listen to music, do some breathing techniques, read the Joke of the Day, or just laugh.
Build your Support System
Like a stressed out, over-stretched friend of mine once said, "I have constant family and work responsibilities- who has time for friends?"
When you spend time with people who make you laugh, people you can be yourself around, you will relax and, naturally, feel emotional relief.
Exercise keeps the brain and body systems tuned and functioning well. When you exercise, the body releases feel good endorphins that decrease stress. It also decreases muscle tension associated with your stress response.
Eat properly. There are 4 food groups; eat from all 4 every day. Make small gradual changes in your diet for best results.
People who are down in the dumps usually feel awful because their attitude often drives their energy level down to the dumps.
Engage in activities with people that make you feel good. Look for the positive side of things and contribute energy and enthusiasm to projects. Sometimes, the smile that you force on your face gets comfortable there, and the next thing you know, you're feeling much better!
Be a part of the solution and not the problem.