Replace overwhelming feelings with these calming ways to unwind.
Working in an educational institution isn’t easy. In fact, in a lot of ways, it’s harder than ever before. Many days present difficult and stressful situations—and you aren’t alone in experiencing this. 33% of adults in the United States say that they live with extreme stress. Between heavy professional responsibilities, small salaries, sleep deprivation and non-work demands that just have to get done, it’s no wonder that many Americans feel overwhelmed.
Not only are Americans stressed, unfortunately, but they’re also unhappy. While it would be impossible to remove stress from our lives altogether, there are coping mechanisms we have at our disposal that can help us to handle it in a more positive, constructive way. Using the proper coping mechanisms can help us to feel happier, too. Here are three helpful habits to employ right away:
1. Don’t devalue down time.
School days are busy. You need some calm to balance out all of that activity. Sleep is a critical “calm” moment, but so is peaceful downtime. Sleep and downtime significantly impact your overall health and productivity. Be sure to listen to your body and carve out time for additional downtime and/or sleep when you need it. Sticking to a schedule when it comes to sleep times can be incredibly beneficial if possible—as does keeping the coffee away later in the afternoon. The American Sleep Association recommends that most adults aim to get at least eight hours of sleep per night. Some adults, however, naturally require more. Figure out what works best for you and then try to make a habit out of a structured sleep routine.
2. Be kind to your body.
Proper nutrition and exercise do wonders to help us handle stress. Are your meals typically well-balanced and filled with nutrients? When your body is stressed, it produces Cortisol. Cortisol can lead to increased stomach fat. According to Harvard Men’s Health Watch, proper daily exercise can reduce both adrenaline and cortisol levels in your body, thus lowering your stress levels as well. You may think you’re “too busy” for exercise or healthy meal prep, but making time—even just 30 minutes a day—for these important body benefits can truly work wonders. If you’re truly tight on time, try incorporating a few smaller workout sessions into your day (even 10 minutes at a time,) and add on from there as you’re able. Forbes provides some great starter ideas here for those of us who just can’t escape our desks.
3. See stress in a new light.
We tend to look at stress as a problem, but what if we started seeing it as more of a challenge? This is exactly what Psychologist Kelly McGonigal, recommends. In her studies, McGonigal found that people who fostered healthy mindsets regarding stress suffered from less negative health effects after stressful moments. This one certainly takes regular practice and accountability, but it’s worth it. We may not be able to control the difficult things that happen to us, but we can control how we react to them.
Still, how do you start seeing stress as more of a challenge? It is suggested that you begin by breaking your problems down into smaller pieces. They seem less overwhelming this way. It is the same thought process of taking things one day at a time. Look at your problems one piece at a time, and evaluate possible “solutions.” Prioritize the most important ones so that you can get them off of your plate sooner and feel more accomplished and less troubled. With regular practice at tackling each problem in smaller pieces as it arises, you’ll be sure to see your to-do list and your stress levels shrinking in no time. Best of all, you’ll get in the habit of having a healthy reaction to life’s unplanned challenges.
The next time you feel anxiety and stress creeping up on you, take a proactive and focused approach to dealing with it. Put these 3 quick-tips to use and replace feelings of anxiety and distress with conscious calming thoughts, proper rest and some quality exercise.
Lindsey Elias, Marketing
As our Marketing Content Manager, Lindsey is passionate about producing quality content. When not at the office or planning her next Disney getaway, she loves hanging with her husband, family and fur babies and indulging in the two c's: carbs & coffee.
Although easy, staying in your comfort zone can do more harm than good. Push yourself to experience new things — the benefits could prove worthy.