Stress: Let’s be honest; we all experience it, but what are we doing to create change?

Stress, six letters that evoke various emotions depending on our mood, day, week, or heck the past year. Stress is a dear friend that occasionally wakes us out of a dead sleep to remind us of an upcoming event. Or the friend that sometimes whispers in our ear; are you sure you can do that? Or better yet, the one that triggers butterflies in every part of our body when we are excited.

Many of us have or are experiencing stress in our personal or professional life, and we hear about the negative impacts all the time. Additionally, we are always sharing how stressed out we are, but what are we doing to create change? What are we doing to get proactive in taking care of ourselves and managing our stress levels, the negative and positive stress?

Feeling defeated by stress from time to time, I’ve found learning and understanding that I can impact and influence how I perceive stress and build skills and tools to help me navigate stress in healthy ways. Studies have shown that stress and wellness are connected, and it’s best when we focus on both and the interaction that they have on one another within ourselves, rather than just trying to get rid of one and increase the other. 

Over the years, I’ve learned the impacts that stress can have on my mood, relationships, success, mindset, motivation, not to mention my overall health. However, despite the unpredictability of stress, everyone can do things to manage and reduce the impacts of stress. Keeping it as simple as creating and maintaining social supports, staying active, and getting enough quality sleep, how many of you could only imagine a good night’s sleep? 

A Canadian research found that 51% of our health status is based on our lifestyle and 20% on our environment. The good news, we can impact and make changes to our lifestyle to help manage stress.  

Creating change to manage stress has always been a work in process, but a few things that I’ve found helpful in my quest to maintain my wellness and serving as a self-check are:

Creating boundaries, both personally and with others. Personal boundaries include how many times will you pick up the phone from that one family member or friend that sucks the energy right out of you? Boundaries with others are the most difficult to maintain, especially with those closest to you. How about those professional boundaries? Do your colleagues know what those boundaries are and how to respect them? A boundary that I’m very clear on is no social media or work emails on the weekends unless, of course, there is an event. This allows me to recharge and reignite my creativity, and my team knows and respects this. 

Make a plan, figure out what your schedule looks like, and take control of it. Do you control your schedule, or does it control you? I’ve found being intentional about everything I put on my calendar helps me to know exactly when I need to say no. 

Stress management, learn to recognize what it looks like when you begin to feel overwhelmed and have tools and resources available. When I can identify things that increase my stress levels, I can build in activities that I need to maintain balance—recognizing things that increase my stress and finding ways to tailor my lifestyle. Don’t like going to the store or just finding time to do it all makes you feel overwhelmed, outsource or eliminate! 

Focus on wellness, think about your wellness first, and build it into your routine, especially around events or situations that could increase your stress levels. Look at your schedule. Does it excite you? For each event or engagement on your calendar that might present stress, do something that focuses on your wellness, which can be as simple as taking 10-minutes to go outside.

Treat yourself, self-care is not selfish! Find ways to create excitement, even for little things like getting ice cream, a physically distant dance party, or meeting up with friends and family. In moments of increased stress, negative or positive, having things to look forward to within the week, month, or year provides us something to refocus on. 

Stress doesn’t have to be daunting or overwhelming if we are in the driver’s seat in taking care of ourselves, and if you happen to find yourself in the back seat from time to time, that’s okay too. We can always recognize and reset!

Lead by example,

Joelle M. Monaco

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