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Hey Gemmers, it’s Monday again so it’s time for your weekly dose of #MondaySelfcare vitamins. This post was inspired by my old friend O.A. currently in the Netherlands who has big dreams of being a… well in simple terms, great cartoonist. His girlfriend, A.B.F. was telling me how concerned and really annoyed she was that he declined to spend time with her family during the Easter. She said he’s really stressed and to exaggerate a little bit he looked like a zombie and he’s trying to achieve his big dreams alone or at least the load he's carrying might be 'too much'. John C. Maxwell in his book The 17 Indisputable Laws of Teamwork said:
"As much as we admire solo achievement, the truth is that no lone individual has done anything of value. The belief that one person can do something great is a myth. There are no real Rambos who can take on a hostile army by themselves. Even the Lone Ranger wasn't really a loner. Everywhere he went he rode with Tonto! Nothing of significance was ever achieved by an individual acting alone". (Click on the book title to buy it).
Subsequently, she took the police (or in this case politie) to his house and turns out he was sick (Lyme disease) and had to be hospitalised for little bit. So, I hope he reads this… Let’s goo!
WHY DOES STRESS OCCUR?...AND ITS EFFECTS
The American Psychological Association (APA) in their help center article, Five Tips to Help Manage Stress, said that “stress occurs when you perceive that demands placed on you — such as work, school or relationships — exceed your ability to cope. Stress could be positive sometimes because it gives you that extra push to perhaps study for your exam or finish your project or whatever but when it builds up too much is becomes dangerous both to your mental/emotional health (anxiety, depression, etc.) and your physical health (‘unwanted’ weight gain, muscle pain etc.)
Satish Kurapaty in her article 5 Simple Ways to Overcome Stress pointed out that stress is something you can’t escape, it has become part and parcel of [modern] lifestyle. She adds that not only your emotional health is affected it can also weaken your immune system thus making you vulnerable to ‘common ailments like the flu, common cold and even heart diseases’ further more excessive stress can make you less responsive to treatment and according to the APA even affect your ‘…neuroendocrine and central nervous systems…’ With all that being said, shouldn’t we learn how to handle or manage stress?
When chasing or running after something normally stress would come into play at one point or the other especially when it isn’t going your way. So, imagine you’re trying to run a ‘successful business’ because... let’s say you’re passionate about health and wellness. Subsequently, you start a blog or whatever and after months of effort you feel like you’re going nowhere or at least you’re not where you want to be; you become stressed, tired, overwhelmed and even feel stuck so…what do you do when stress becomes too much?
1. Take Care of Yourself: This point is just a cheat way for me to compress many things into one point haha. If your passion is your job as well then maybe you might spend time attending lectures and seminars, trying to do the more technical things in your profession and these things are great and all for your brand but it might not do much for your personal inner happiness. This is where self-care comes into play…self-care must be paramount because without it you can’t be truly effective. There’s the saying that 'your body is a temple' so you have to take care of it, how man people are willing to go into an unkempt temple that is still very much active? I'll go further to say that your body is a house which only you can live in but unlike a house you can't hire for someone to care for it in every capacity...some things you just have to do yourself. In my previous post 8 Self-help or Inspirational Book Recommendations I mentioned Anik Singal who almost died in a foreign country and it was partially due to bad decisions and inadequate self-care so beware. Lucas Miller in his article How to Protect Your Professional Passion When Stress Creeps In said that self-care is non-negotiable and there are various ways to go about it such as mediation, exercise, which I’ve mentioned in my post 9 Ways to Tackle Overthinking and also healthy eating, etc. No matter how you choose to do it please take care of yourself daily so you can fight stress when it comes knocking because it definitely will. Additionally, some wise words from alux.com on Youtube 'sacrificing your health for success or wealth isn't worth it'.
2. Take a break from the stressor: In the aforementioned APA article, they advise to take a break when you feel stressed. "It may seem difficult to get away from a big work project, a crying baby, [the exams lurking around the corner or possible money problems]. But when you give yourself permission to step away from it, you let yourself have time to do something else, which can help you have a new perspective or practice techniques to feel less overwhelmed. It’s important to not avoid your stress (those bills have to be paid sometime), but even just 20-minutes to take care of yourself is helpful”. This is obviously still piggybacking from the previous point but taking a break is always important. For example, if you have dry or red eyes from staring at your computer screen too long you have to step away from the computer or it’s gonna get worse.
3. Better time management and de-compartmentalising: According to the article ‘Stress Management Using Self-Help Techniques for Dealing with Stress’ by Lawrence Robinson et. al for helpguide.org, bad time management will build up stress because you’ll be running behind and probably spreading yourself too thin so it’s more difficult to stay focused and calm. You’ll most likely decrease the healthy activities you participate in such as good nutrition and adequate sleep (students and workers you know how it gets when you have deadlines fast approaching). So, here’s what to do.
a. Don't over-commit yourself: Please don’t schedule things back to back because it ain’t a Drake song haha and don’t fit too much into one day. Often times, we underestimate how long some tasks will take and overestimate ourselves.
b. Prioritise tasks: Use a to-do list, and follow them in order of importance. It’s essential to do the most important tasks first. ‘If you have something particularly unpleasant or stressful to do, get it over with early. The rest of your day will be more pleasant as a result’. More on this in one of my earlier posts 8 Practical Solutions to Procrastination.
c. ‘Break projects into small steps: If a large project seems overwhelming, make a step-by-step plan. Focus on one manageable step at a time, rather than taking on everything at once’.
d. Delegate responsibility: You can’t take it all on alone whether at home, school, or on the job not even Superman can do it alone that’s why there’s the Justice League. If other people can take care of the task, why not let them? Try to overcome the desire to control or oversee every single little step. If you overcome this desire, you’ll be forfeiting unnecessary stress in the process. So, try not to micro manage because you’ll only be stressing the others instead, keep your hands off but your eyes on. This shows you trust their abilities and you should only assume a supervisory and advisory role.
4. Connect to others: Spending time with someone who you can be open with, who makes you feel safe and understood is very essential for you. According to the previously mentioned article, ‘face-to-face interaction triggers a cascade of hormones that counteracts the body’s defensive “fight-or-flight” response. It’s nature’s natural stress reliever (as an added bonus, it also helps stave off depression and anxiety)’. You should make sure that you’re in contact with your loved ones on a regular basis especially in person. They don’t have to be able to ‘fix your stress’ but they shouldn’t add to it and they should be at least good listeners. "Try not to let worries about looking weak or being a burden keep you from opening up. The people who care about you will be flattered by your trust. It will only strengthen your bond. Of course, it’s not always realistic to have a pal close by to lean on when you feel overwhelmed by stress, but by building and maintaining a network of close friends you can improve your resiliency to life’s stressors".
5. Avoid unhealthy coping mechanisms: If you went to university then you know how exam season gets. This air is different, girls who usually wear makeup don’t wear as much if at all, boys that always dress well now look like they just crawled outta bed but the one thing that unites us all is the change in our eating and sleeping habits. Personally, I go to the convenience store and get biscuits, crisps or chips and juice and sometimes I don’t eat and definitely sleep in the a.m. According to the article 11 Strategies for Managing Stress by John H. Ostdick, “turning to food, alcohol or drugs often just turns one set of problems into another that can balloon out of control. It’s better to avoid those unhealthy coping mechanisms from the start, and find good ways to keep your stress under control”. We turn to these coping mechanisms because we can’t handle all that stress, for example many people turn to alcohol after a break up or we eat ‘comfort food’ and obviously this bad for your well-being because in these cases we tend to indulge in too much of them.
Bonus: Live in the present: Your future doesn’t run away and what you do in the present determines your future but living in the future and not taking time to appreciate the present will definitely cause you stress it’s like running after a mirage. See more on my post 10 Ways to Get Unstuck in Life specifically the ‘let the past be’ tip.
QOTD: "Life, as we find it, is too hard for us; it brings us too many pains, disappointments and impossible tasks. In order to bear we cannot dispense with palliative remedies...There are perhaps three such measures: powerful deflections, which cause us to make light of our misery; substitutive satisfactions which diminish it; and intoxicating substances (drugs, alcohol, etc.), which make us insensible to it" - Sigmund Freud.
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My name is Ofai and I'm passionate about blogging and it gives me fulfillment that I can help you out so sit back, relax and enjoy your weekly carats of #SelfImprovementGems with me!