In our series on stress and stress management, we started with breathing as a method to de-stress daily. Today, we will look at two subtle stress triggers that you might be experiencing and potential solutions to limit this type of stress.
Years ago we had only three television stations and the local news was on twice a day at 6pm then again at 11pm. We also had the national news right after dinner. They were only thirty minutes long including the commercials. Today, we have multiple news programs both local and national. We can even watch the news in other countries as on the BBC. Television is saturated with news and most of it is of the bad variety. By bad, I don’t mean in performance but in what is presented. Let’s face it, ratings are not obtained by talking about all the wonderful things that go on in the world but by telling of all the tragedies, fighting and misfortune. It is enough to make the world seem like a terrible place and to stress a person out.
Let’s apply the “you are what you eat” idea not only to food but to the input you allow into your brain. Just as consuming a poor diet can wreck your body, letting negative thoughts saturate your brain day in and day out can affect your mind and elevate your stress. I am not suggesting putting your head in the sand and not staying up to date on current events but just be choosey in what you allow in and how much time you spend reading or watching the news. One solution might be to download your favorite news app onto your phone or IPAD then browse the headlines to see what is happening and only focus on the stories that are important to you. You will naturally limit your exposure to all the negativity and the time spent around this type of stress inducing information. Feed your brain with information that will help you grow, learn and become a better person just as you feed your body whole, natural and healthy food.
The second stress trigger we experience is to say yes to every request asked of us. It is easier to say yes than it is to say no isn’t it? By saying no to a family member, friend or a boss you might experience the feelings of “I am not being a team player or I have let someone down”. Saying yes all the time also saves us from “missing out on things”. Being over committed with too much to do in a short time frame is called Time Compression Syndrome and it creates stress!
In the workplace being productive is an expectation. It really runs the company- be productive and get things done in as little time as possible so you can do more. This can spill over into our lives outside of work if we allow it. Resting and relaxing is frowned upon in modern society for the most part. We run hard 24/7. Let’s look at our lives in this way. They say we experience 2.5 billion heartbeats in our lifetime and use about 100,000 beats a day. Where and how are you spending your heartbeats? Behind a desk, late into the day, doing a job you have no passion for because you can’t say “No” to your boss?
What about the mother who signs up for multiple committees trying to be Supermom but never gets to attend her child’s soccer games? Furthermore, taking on too many things at once sets you up for failure. None of them will be done well because of the lack of time. We must look at time differently. Time is something we can never get back once gone therefore time is valuable. If you don’t feel the enthusiasm in “heck yes I want to do that!” when asked a request pause and think it over a bit. You should feel excitement and want to jump at an opportunity because you will be spending some of your “heartbeats” there. This will definitely take a bit of practice. I still have a difficult time saying “no” but just practice. Start by valuing your time, know where your priorities are and practice saying “no” once in awhile. It will be okay and it will get easier the more you do it. You will find the time to rest and relax. This will help you re-charge and be a better employee, parent and friend. It’s important to spend your heartbeats wisely doing things you love and are excited about rather than doing everything possible and being frazzled and stressed the entire time.