6 Essential Steps to Manage Stress

Peacock Nymph by Cherie Roe Dirksen

The Joy of Moving, Not!

It’s not stress that kills us, it is our reaction to it.” — Hans Selye

I’ve just recently moved 300km from the outskirts of the Mother City to the rolling hills of the Karoo countryside.

Yes, it was a stressy move (especially as we had a cat who sulked at us for weeks for transporting her in a car) but once we had unpacked the mountain of boxes and had everything in its right place — it was time to relax. Or was it?

Stress Building Exercises

I have never felt more stressed out in my life!

Firstly, let me say that we had rented previously and this was our first home we’d actually bought. Now for all the home-owners out there you’ll know what I mean when I say that buying your own place — as exciting and gratifying as it is — comes with a never-ending ‘to-do’ list.

My partner and I have been working day and night, week day and weekend.

So in amongst the drilling, painting, erecting, digging, measuring, assembling, cleaning and various other forms of stress-building activities, I started getting some pretty clear signals — via my body — that I was starting to take my anxiety levels to new heights.

My symptoms went a little like this:

  • My shoulders ached (‘carrying’ too much — in this case it was anxiety)
  • My head hurt (too much on my mind — ‘what to do next’)
  • I kept on scraping and scratching my fingers and hands (perhaps a message to stop doing and rest?)
  • My legs started cramping and finally, I walked into an old and rusty steel rod that took a bit of my ankle out (another sign from the universe to stop and rest?!)
  • My emotions were running high and tears were at the ready too often (overwhelm)

Another thing weighing heavily on me was the fact that I had stopped working (as in ‘career’ working) for over 2 months and bills needed paying.

HELP!

I was drowning.

We’ve all been down this road before in some form or another. The thing is, what to do when we feel this sense of overwhelm and helplessness creep over us?

Tipping Point                                                          

When I had reached my tipping point (when I was actually getting ‘grounded’ by my physical aches and strains) I started looking at where I was going wrong. Oh boy, was I straying way off path!

Here is what I learnt:

  • Frequent Breaks — This is such a no-brainer but I actually need to remind myself to take 10 minutes out every now and again. I am the kind of person who starts a job and wants to see it done NOW. That’s actually just self-defeating and stupid. When you do that you usually rush the job and don’t do it properly. So, remember to take little breaks to become more productive in the long run and keep your sanity and body in check.
  • Hydrate and Nourish — Again, sometimes we are so ‘in the zone’ that we forget to take time out to eat and drink (or at least I do) which can cause a sudden drop in your blood-sugar levels. When you run yourself into the ground like this it isn’t easy to pick yourself up again. I get very ratty and irritable and the mood just spirals downwards. Before it gets to this stage make a point of drinking lots of water and eating healthy snacks.
  • Schedule — This step probably helped me the most. I sat down one morning and it took me just 10 minutes to figure out a game plan. I did a quick list of what I wanted to achieve work-wise and with house/garden chores for every day of the week. I have been sticking to this and my shoulder pain and head-aches have gone away. I don’t feel overly anxious all the time and now I feel I have an achievable order in which to get the jobs done.
  • Importance List — Sometimes we just need to organize ourselves better as in with the above ‘schedule’ step. But to go a step further, try to — on a weekly basis (or whatever suits you) — sort out the order of importance of each task. When you start knocking ‘em down you’ll feel great!
  • Joy — This comes to me in the form of just sitting/walking in nature and being. You can also call this step ‘meditation’. You’ve got to connect with your core daily in order to have a balanced existence. I went totally off the rails when I moved, feeling so overwhelmed with everything that needed to be done, that I forgot this vital step for weeks! Now I make a point of doing this as often as I possibly can every day.
  • Sleep — I am going to bed a lot earlier because I’m pretty much pooped every night (in a good, satisfied way though) but I am sleeping like a log. When I wake up in the morning I am refreshed and I start all over again with a spring in my step. I can’t express enough the importance of a good night’s sleep.   Make it happen! Drink chamomile or Valerian tea in the evening, wind down by listening to soothing music before bed, take a warm bath in lavender essential oil — do what you must to get that proper downtime that your body deserves.

These small and totally doable exercises helped me to take the edge off my stress levels, I hope they help you too.

What do you do to de-stress?  Share your pearls of wisdom in the comment box below 🙂

Original article written by Cherie Roe Dirksen for Conscious Life News

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11 thoughts on “6 Essential Steps to Manage Stress

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