I get asked an awful lot about how to beat stress. Questions like “What can I do today to limit my stress?” or ”Can you give me some quick steps I can take today to limit the amount of stress I feel?” are common to hear in the medical field. Fortunately, stress is not inescapable. Try following these easy tips to reduce the stress in your life as soon as possible.
When faced with stressful life situations, learn to take care of yourself. I hear you asking, “What do you mean by that Dr. Leslie?” What I mean by that is that when we get stressed, we seem to fall into patterns where we push ourselves harder and harder, thinking that we can beat the stressors in our lives. We overexert ourselves trying to live up to others’ expectations when what we really need to do is take a step back and recognize our own limits. We need to be gentle with ourselves.
Step 1 – Remember to be gentle with yourself and step back and look at the situation with new eyes.
Another vital step towards reducing the amount of stress in your life is to get sleep.
We all race around like rats on a wheel. Step off the wheel. Sleep is essential when you are dealing with stressful situations. It is during sleep that the body and mind heal and rejuvenate themselves and dreams help you figure out answers to your problems. Many of my patients have asked for direction before bed and woken up with a new step to take or a solution to a problem they had. Sleep is healing for the body and mind, so forget the dishes tonight and make a habit of going to bed an hour early.
Step 2 -Make sure you get a good night’s rest.
Sometimes we just have too many tasks. How many times have you looked at your to-do list and sighed with resignation because you could not possibly get everything done? Don’t assume you can take on more projects just to please everyone. Look at your time commitments and plan your day accordingly. Lists upon lists add stress. Slow down and only take on what you know you can get accomplished that day.
Step 3 – Block out your time so that you are able to accomplish your to-dos in one day without them hanging over your head the next.
Take a deep breath. Believe it or not, the simple step of taking three long, deep breaths a day will add years to your life. When you are stressed, you tend to breathe at the top of your chest in short gulps of air. Taking the time to breathe fully will help relieve symptoms of stress from your body by bringing the air and oxygen you need into your blood and lung tissues.
Step 4- Take at least three deep breaths a day.
Take a walk outside. Just being exposed to nature can have curative effects on your body and mind. A famous study in the ’70s showed that patients recovered faster from surgery when they had a view of trees in the recovery room. Make outdoor walks a daily part of your life and reap the stress-reducing benefits of being in nature.
Step 5- Go take a walk outside and enjoy the stress-reducing benefits of nature.
Lastly, take a fifteen-minute break from everything. Whether you want to learn the art of meditation or just sit outside and listen to the bird's chirp, make a point of relaxing for fifteen minutes a day. No activities. Just relax. Be still and let your thoughts pass like clouds in the sky.
Step 6- Just take a fifteen-minute break every day.
If you take these steps, you will see a marked reduction in your stress levels. Each of these small steps can help you to change your lifestyle, from reacting to difficult circumstances more easily to having the space to decide what is best in each moment. Take the time to learn how to manage your stress levels with these six simple steps, and let me know how it goes.
To your health.
Dr. Leslie Murphy MDVIP