You know those days where things just flow? You come home from work and find your house cleaned, clothes are put away, and the dog has been fed and exercised. I know what this feels like because it happened once about two years ago, and it was a tremendously peaceful feeling… that lasted about five minutes.
So, what about the rest of the days? The days we feel like we’re running around from one event to the next, whether it’s participating in the children’s carpool or moving onto a new task or meeting a new client at work. And most of the time, you feel lucky if there are clean dishes to eat dinner let alone maintain a spotless house. Time after time, this causes stress. Do you notice how most fights with your partner happen in conjunction with chaos? Everything seems up in the air, causing unsettling and anxious emotions to arise.
Many of you are familiar with the term stress. This can feel like strain or tension due to an intense circumstance. Stress doesn’t have to be a chronic state. It can be thought of as a warning sign that produces the fight-or-flight response. When we experience stress, we experience physical symptoms as a result of the influx of neurochemicals like epinephrine, norepinephrine, and cortisol. This sort of stress occurring in an instant can be beneficial to increase your vigilance to move out of the way of a car, help you to run fast and efficiently, and cause you to react quickly in a split-second decision. This is healthy stress that can give you energy and motivation in times of need like studying for that exam or working toward that big promotion at work.
But what if every day becomes stressful? All the sudden, you’re not just reacting to a certain situation, but your perceiving everything as stress- the laundry, the walking of the dog, the taking the twins to daycare, or the travel time it takes to get to work. You feel your heart beat fast, anxiety increases, and you start to breathe faster from just the thought of these things. This is when stress can become dangerous. It can lead to a weakened immune system, so you’re more susceptible to viruses, high blood pressure, fatigue, depression, and anxiety.
It’s important to pay attention to the way you manage stress. Are you feeling it all the time? Do you notice getting sick more often? Changes in sleep and mood? Headaches? Constant fatigue or brain fog? Flare ups of old injuries or autoimmune diseases? This is a great time to see a professional.
But, if you notice stress happening every so often after a jam-packed day, here are some helpful tips to keep in mind:
- Time block your emails. This way, you spend 8-9AM checking emails and 3-4PM checking emails. You can put it out of your mind before and after and only spend energy thinking about emails during this time.
- Watch your caffeine intake. While a small amount of caffeine can be beneficial in the short-term for a boost of energy in the morning, it can cause dehydration, a weakened immune system, and sleep disruption. Pay attention to your caffeine consumption and try to stick to moderation in the morning time.
- Do ONE activity every day just for you. This may require waking up 20 minutes earlier to eat your breakfast outside or ditching TV time to take a relaxing bath. Whatever it is, ask yourself, “What would make me feel good right in this moment?” Do this once and every day.
Stress is complex, but once you learn to identify the different kinds, you can make a world of difference in your reaction to it.