Dr. Deb’s Mental Health Vitamin: Reducing stress
By Dr. Deb Wade
GCU Vice President, Counseling and Psychological Services
STRESS! The mere sound of the word conjures up a quick review of one’s to-do list for today, the enormity of the unfinished business from yesterday and the expectations for excellence tomorrow, all of which is enough to overwhelm and intimidate even the strongest among us.
On a continuum of no stress to over-the-top-out-of-control stress, we may vacillate from one hour to the next. But it is important to note … STRESS is NOT something we “catch.” It is something we generate! And the good news is that if we generate it, we also can use some tools to dismantle it.
What are some stress-busters? Let’s take a look …
- Give Away Your Cape! That’s right … too many of us are trying to be all things to all people, and the result is STRESS! You don’t have to be a superhero. It’s OK to say, “No.”
- Simplify! Sometimes just taking inventory and de-cluttering your life of busy-ness will go a long way to restoring serenity. Sometimes, also, it is important to de-clutter your surroundings. When you look around and see order, your insides become ordered, too!
- Breathe! Did you know that as you become more and more stressed, your breathing becomes more and more shallow, which then can lead to panic? Step back, grab some very deep breaths in your belly, then push them out … breathing becomes more regulated, and the feeling of being overwhelmed does not seem so huge.
- Get Outdoors! Intentionally stepping away from a stressful situation, taking a brisk walk (even if it’s just for 5-10 minutes around your building) and seeing the beauty around you allows for a return to the situation with a much cleaner and brighter filter.
- Time Management! If it seems that you run out of day before you’re able to cross out all your to-do items, first analyze the way you’re using your time. It is always easier to tackle a big task when you’ve divided it into smaller, more manageable chunks. Each chunk completed will feel good, and ultimately you may end up with leftover time!
- Boundaries/Balance! Simply put … your life will have more balance (between work and play, up time and down time) when you choose to have boundaries. It’s OK to say “No” and it’s OK to speak YOUR needs instead of always taking on someone else’s.
- Delegate! Share the load when it becomes overwhelming and time-consuming. It’s always OK to say, “I need help with this … what part will you be glad to take on?”
- De–tox! Inventory your current life situation … do you need to eliminate or distance yourself from chronically needy friends, from busy-ness, from an over-abundance of tasks? At the same time that you are de-toxing, you also can decline the habit of taking “it all” back on!
- Laugh! The best medicine of all is the ability to laugh! When was the last time you had a big ol’ belly laugh? Been a while? Then … find something that is funny and let it rip!
- Pray! God restores … ’nuf said!
Give yourself the freedom to rid your life of persistent, nagging, overwhelming stress … YOU HAVE A CHOICE!