April is stress awareness month. Over the last few years, we have seen stress like never before, as we face situations that we never thought we would find ourselves in. In this blog we will explore strategies for managing our stress in a positive way.
Stress can be categorised in two ways – as useful stress and unhealthy stress. Useful stress could be defined as a new challenge that we overcome, for example, starting a new job, taking on new responsibilities, or influencing a more senior group of people in your organisation. Good stress means that we drive ourselves to achieve more, grow or develop ourselves, and we feel good from achieving this.
Unhealthy stress can be seen as a tipping point, where a situation(s) brings about a sense of dis-ease. This may be one situation or several things at once that cause us to feel stressed. I notice that if we ignore the signals and carry on, it can lead to physical and mental signals that cause us issues.
What are your early warning signals?
A good friend of mine says that migraines are her signal, she knows that things are getting to her, and it’s her first sign that something isn’t right. For others it can be a feeling in their stomach, a knot. Here are some others:
- Inability to think straight
- Overwhelmed with things that you usually cope with
- Loss of sense of humour
- Feelings in the body – tightness
- Not wanting to socialise
- Feeling overwhelmed
Identifying and managing your triggers
By identifying your triggers, you can start to manage stress even more effectively. It may be certain situations that are your triggers, here are a couple of common ones:
- Diary being too full/ too empty
- Too many new challenges at once
- Lack of space to devote to key relationships
- Working long hours
- Health issues for you or those close to you
- Starting a new role
- Reorganisations at work
- Potential changes at work
One of these may cause you to thrive through the situation, it’s when we have several in one go that it can cause the unhealthy stress to arrive.
Strategies to decompress
Once we understand our triggers, we become more vigilant to making changes when they happen. We all have ways to decompress or relax so that the body and mind have chance to adapt, re-energise and perform at our best. What would you add to this list?
- Space in the diary for you time.
- Exercise that is energising for example you may enjoy your bootcamp class but really detest the gym. Finding exercise that energises is so positive for our mood.
- Joining a group of like-minded people – for example, a book club, community project or a group centred around a hobby.
- Studying or learning a new skill
- Sleep and healthy food
- Socialising with people who energise you
- Talking it out – finding a trusted network of support to talk things through with can also help us.
In stress awareness month I encourage you to reflect on your stress levels and use the following questions to support your thinking:
- On a scale of 1-10 with 10 being high, where would you put your stress levels this month?
- What is causing that score?
- What can you do more or / less of to be at your optimum?
- Who are the people that energise you?
- What changes could you make to your diary to build in more you time?
I’d love to hear what works for you to stay stress aware? If you would like to know more about how coaching can support you, please get in touch to arrange an initial, no obligation consultation.