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Simple Strategies to Help You Stress Less

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Whether you’re well informed or blissfully unaware of it, stress affects many aspects of our lives – be it our mental & physical health, lifestyle habits, energy levels, or our relationships. As our to-do lists mount and our year end expectations climb over the next few weeks, we feel that now is as good a time as any to talk stress management.

With less than 10 days until Christmas, many of us are struggling to maintain composure as our busy schedules get the best of us. And we see why. In between buying and neatly wrapping presents, building up and helping tear down gingerbread houses (and cleaning up after), and scheduling family holiday touch points, it can be hard to find time to breathe. Yes, stress can understandably run high this time of year. And while many times circumstances are out of our control, how we respond to situations is completely up to us.

resizechristmas-gift-wrapping-picjumbo-comThis year, we encourage you to take few moments and step back from the chaos. Take time to consider everything that has happened over the past 12 months. Reflect on what this year has been like for you – lingering on the good memories, but also looking at harder times and contemplating what you have learned.

The process of reflection not only can work as a stress relieving tactic by helping us slow down, but it enables us to see life’s challenges, good and bad, in a different light. When we’re in the thick of a trying experience, we recognize that it is next to impossible to see it as a positive thing. But once the challenge is said and done, and maybe a few months have passed, it is beneficial to reflect, and assess what happened.

  1. What was the situation that caused you stress?
  2. How did you initially react?
  3. Could you have approached the situation differently, and a more favourable outcome may have resulted?
  4. How did you cope with the stressful event? And most importantly,
  5. What did you learn?

Reflection breads gratitude.  And we all have something to be grateful for.

Taking the time to assess what this year has brought you is just one of several tools that can be used to help put life, and the stress provoking circumstances that may come with it, into perspective. Read on to be reminded of some other simple strategies that may help you keep your cool this season.

      • Spend Time Outdoors. Not only does spending time in nature improve your long-term health and overall outlook on life, spending time outdoors is also among the most effective stress coping mechanisms. There’s just something about birds chirping and the sun beaming down on us that seems to restore a sense of peace.
      • Exhale Negativity. To make the most of de-stressing when out in nature, take deep breaths – especially focusing on a long exhale. Taking control of your breathing immediately calms your stress response. It also prompts you to think about something other than the stressful situation, furthering your relaxation.
      • Get your ZZZs. It’s no secret that there’s a vicious cycle of stress and sleep loss that affects many. To maintain your health and energy levels amongst the holiday bustle, I suggest that you make getting the right amount of sleep for you a priority. This typically is between 7-9 hours a night, but some function optimally with 5-6 hours – find what feels best for your body and roll with it.
      • Establish some Routine in your Life. This may be a highly flexible routine, and if that works for you, great! Scheduling yourself too strictly can be confining and stressful in itself. We encourage you to find a balance that works with your life. And for maximum stress reduction, focus on creating plans involving positive social relationships in your life, whenever possible.
      • Take up an Enjoyable Hobby. This could be anything, but for optimal stress reduction look to incorporate some form of activity. Ideally, you should try to make time for this hobby about once per week. Playing catch with your dog, going for a walk or hike, or trying your hand at something new like golf are some ideas to get you started.
      • Volunteer your Time. It could be once a week, once a month, or seasonally depending on your other commitments, but there is nothing quite like the feeling of giving back to the community. Generally, this also increases the time you spend connecting with people who you truly appreciate, which is relaxing and enjoyable in itself.resizeyoung-couple-enjoying-romantic-sunset-from-car-trunk-picjumbo-com
      • Know your Limits. Be reasonable about your personal abilities and set realistic expectations. Remember that each person is different, and what may not be stressful for a peer or family member may cause you considerable angst. This is certainly normal, so set limits considering nothing else but yourself and your comfort zone.
      • Stay Optimistic. Those who look for the silver lining when they’re faced with tough times are naturally better at handling stress than their negativity dwelling counterparts. And focusing on the unfortunate side of situations will likely affect those around you as well, so no one wins here. On the other hand, using positive self-talk (such as telling yourself that it’s not that bad) can give you more confidence to manage the stressful situation.

Find the strategies that work best for you, and practice them on a regular basis. Start slowly with just one of the suggestions above, and gradually add more until you experience the results that you’re hoping for.

Your body and mind will be so glad you did.