I recently asked people attending my Building Resilience workshop (more here) about their experience of uncomfortable levels of stress. Their answers shocked me:
1. Are you too stressed? 8 out of 10 said “ Yes”
2. Has your level of stress has increased over the past 12 months? 8 out of 10 said “Yes”.
3. Where does the stress come from? The three most common areas were:
• Job stress (difficult boss and/or co-workers, demanding clients and pressure to perform),
• Domestic relationships stress (partner, children and extended family),
• Financial stress (budgeting, spending and credit).
Surprisingly, few people mentioned their health as a major worry or stressor. I think that’s ironic, as health problems will eventually kill most of us!
Whatever it’s source, too much stress causes poor concentration, reduced work productivity, sleeplessness and life feels worthless. Does this sound familiar?
If you are too stressed, what can you do?
Here are some suggestions that work for me, and I am sure will work for you too:
1. Nurture your body.
You are first and foremost a physical being. Respect your physicality by getting at least 7 ½ hours sleep every night, exercise to break a sweat for at least 30 minutes, three times a week, cut out sugar and minimise carbohydrates in your diet.
2. Nurture your mind.
Listen to the story you are telling yourself about your life. Choose to tell yourself a story of which you’re proud, where you are the victor, interpreting the obstacles in your path as stepping stones to becoming all you can be.
When your stress levels are really high, ask yourself the three powerful questions that restructure your experience:
• How can I accept this?
• What can I learn from this?
• Is there an opportunity?
Your answers to these questions will help you see things in a different and more positive light, which will in turn enable you to find more creative solutions.
3. Nurture your soul.
Do things each day that are meaningful to you. Spend time on your passions. Switch off Facebook, your emails and the TV!
Treasure the people who love you, and keep those relationships strong. Reach out to offer help to people who are struggling, and also ask for help when you need it.
Choose to forgive, not necessarily because the other person deserves it, but because it’s the best way to let go of hurt in your past and move on. (This does not mean however that you have to tell them that you have forgiven them, particularly if that may put you at risk or in danger.) Think of forgiving as physically turning your back on an unhappy past, in order to face in a different direction, which enables you to embrace a better future.
If you, like so many others, have too much stress, which of these suggestions will you try?