Stress is, unfortunately, a pretty universal experience. Family life, your job, your partner, your friends, the gym… All these things are enjoyable and equally important. And they give you energy. However, you can only keep this balancing act up if you take time to recharge your mind and body. By doing nothing for a while or by consciously making time for yourself. Do you take enough time to rest and calm your mind? Why not make this your New Year’s resolution for 2020?
What is stress and how unhealthy is stress?
Stress is a feeling of emotional or physical tension. Our bodies and minds can deal with a certain amount of stress, but there is a limit to the stress we as humans can bear. Severe stress or prolonged stress causes wear and tear on the body, both physically and emotionally. This can make us extremely unhappy. When this happens it’s a sign that we didn’t preserve our boundaries, and this is what we call unhealthy stress. However, if we don’t push ourselves beyond our limits sometimes, we may also experience tension or stress. Some of the least happy people are those without challenges in their lives.
What causes stress?
Stress can be caused by events or situations that happen to us. Events that are outside of our control, like having to compete in an achievement-orientated society or life events such as the death of a loved one, a seriously ill child or divorce. Stress can be work related or arise from a person’s personal life. In many cases, it is a combination of the two. If someone has to deal with difficult circumstances in their personal life, such as divorce or a loved one who’s ill, they will have less energy to perform professionally. Emotional turmoil in their life becomes too much to handle, causing stress and feelings of unhappiness at work.
There also seems to be a connection between stress and the personality traits listed below.
- inability to do ‘nothing’
- wanting to do multiple things at once
- feeling overly responsible for other people
- placing high expectations or demands on oneself
- great sense of responsibility
- being overly involved in family dynamics or work
- always seeking appreciation from others
- inability to express feelings
- inability to say ‘no’
- lack of self-esteem
- inability to ask for help or support, and pessimism.
These personality traits can also make a person more vulnerable to stress. People with these character traits are often very persevering, but because they tend to place themselves in a subservient position to others and have trouble knowing or preserving their own boundaries, they often find themselves in situations where the amount of stress surpasses their capacity to manage it.
More time to rest
The good news is that stress can be managed. The main thing is that you make time for yourself. Schedule ‘me time’ in your diary, so that you don’t forget to actually do it. ‘Me time’ can be anything and anywhere you want it to be, at home, when the children are asleep, or at work – it doesn’t need to take long and it doesn’t need to be complicated. It can be done in five minutes at work, during dinner or when you’re stuck in a traffic jam.
- Breathing technique: Close your eyes and focus on your breathing for a couple of minutes. You’ll notice that clearing your mind and thinking of nothing is difficult, which is why it’s important to focus on your breathing. If your mind wanders off to tasks that you have to complete, don’t worry about it. Simply let these thoughts go and gently bring your mind’s focus back the present moment and your breath.
- Enjoy food: The pace of life for most people is quite hectic and the act of eating is often rushed. If you take the time to eat and chew each bite for 30 seconds, you’ll notice that you will be more conscious of the smell, taste and feel of the food you’re eating. Put your phone aside and switch off the TV. Make dinner about enjoyment and connecting with your family.
- Switch off your phone: Talking about phones. How about a phone-free day? Try it. Even if it’s only for an evening. Chances are you won’t have missed anything important. You’ll probably enjoy the peace and quiet. Another idea: don’t check social media the minute you wake up.
- Exercise: Take a walk or go cycling, even when you don’t feel like it or it’s drizzling and cold out there. It will leave you feeling much more energised. It’s also important to find moments of calm. Get out in nature, if you can.
- Want to do: Our lives are packed with things we have to do: get somewhere on time, chores, tasks, responsibilities. How often do you ask yourself what you really want? What would you like to do? And what is stopping you? Sometimes it can help to change your perspective from ‘have to do’ to ‘want to do’. You don’t have to do the laundry. You want to do the laundry. Because this means an empty laundry basket and clean clothes in your closet.
- Be patient: You can’t have everything and certainly not at once. If you have goals or plans, the key is to make a plan for what you need to get to that point. Patience will help you to get what you want. Patience is realistic. Not everything has to be now, now, now!
- Let go of your worries: We all have things we worry about. Always ask yourself, ‘What is the worst thing that can happen?’ Of course, we want the best and we don’t want to make mistakes. But even if things go wrong, it’s never the end of the world!
- Good night’s sleep: Give your mind and body a good night’s rest. Having a late night can be fun but taking the time to rest is important, especially if you have a busy day ahead of you. So, switch off your phone and TV and have a lie-down.
Is your mind too busy to sleep or do you have difficulty sleeping due to stress? Then we advise you to seek help from a professional. At Dokteronline.com, you can book an online doctor’s consultation safely and easily.
van Asseldonk, E. (2015, 7 May). Mindful worden in 10 stappen (Mastering mindfulness in 10 steps). Consulted on https://www.famme.nl/mindful-worden-in-10-stappen/
Hermus, J. (2019, 11 September). Rust in je hoofd: 16 praktische tips (Peace of mind: 16 practical steps). Consulted on 22 November 2019 on https://sochicken.nl/rust_in_je_hoofd_16_praktische_tips
MIND. (n.d.). Stress. Consulted on 22 November 2019 on https://wijzijnmind.nl/psychipedia/stress