5 Ways to Cope Better During Stressful Days
Stressful days are becoming more and more the norm for many of us.
In our modern world, we are expected to be and do so much more than what is physically and practically possible.
We are constantly being pulled in all directions and continually trying to juggle everything while keeping those around us happy.
While we are doing this, we are triggering off so much stress in our own beings, which will eventually lead us to poor health and burnout.
So how can we cope better during stressful days?
In this podcast episode, Gillian Duncan, Clarity Junction host, coach and author discusses 5 actions that you can try to help reduce and lift the cycle of stress.
Welcome to the Clarity Junction podcast.
No matter who you are, where you live or what you do in life, stressful days are something that you encounter.
Some days are more stressful than others, but you may have noticed that if you have one stressful day, there is a chance that you will carry that stress into the next day, and the next and so on, until your week, month, year, life, becomes one series of stressful events after another and you are on a spinning carousel that you just can’t seem to leave.
Stress really is a terrible burden to carry in life as it threatens our physical and mental health, so with this in mind, I would like to share with you 5 key ways to cope better during stressful days, in the hope that you will be able to take back control and find peace and clarity once more.
My name is Gillian Duncan, Positive Life and Wellbeing Coach, inspiring women to live the life they truly want, and I am delighted that you are here with me today.
Being stressed every day can soon become the ‘norm’.
Feeling overwhelmed, frustrated, short-tempered and even tearful is a sure sign that you are not living your best life and that you are facing burn-out.
As women, it’s hard to just be able to take a step back from life and take a long break.
We are charged with so many responsibilities and it’s often impossible just to stop. Many of us have others who depend on us, and we can’t just walk away from our responsibilities, without at least some pre-organisation.
So, what can we do?
We need to do something to stop this endless cycle of intense negativity or we will, for certain, become mentally and physically ill.
The truth is, we need to learn how to cope and manage our constant need to juggle everything and allow some time to rest.
Yes, I can hear many of you snigger at that comment. I get it. From where you are standing, this seems completely impossible.
Well, although you may think this, there is no way that you can keep going on in the same fashion as you are now.
You are only opening up your mind and body to disease and chances are you are putting a real strain on your relationships too.
So, let’s get this message clear. You need to make changes and you need to make them now.
While I don’t have the luxury of sitting down with you, one-to-one, to discuss all that is going wrong in your life just now, I can use this podcast episode to reach out to you and give you 5 starting points that will help you gain more control over your life each day, and increase your ability to make your days more manageable and enjoyable.
Once you start making changes and putting new habits into practice each day, soon you will find that the heavy burdens that you are carrying will lighten. As you focus more on this lighter feeling, you will find more and more ways to increase this feeling, and that’s exactly what you need.
You need to find the light in life to be able to breathe freely once more.
Before you even begin to argue that you don’t have time for this, I must stress that you need to make time. It only takes a few minutes, and it’s extremely important that you take this seriously. You are at the edge of burnout – it’s better to take the time now to prevent it, because burnout can take a very long time to recover from.
So, let’s get started.
The first place to start is to address how you are feeling. Take a moment to sit quietly. Breathe, and ask your heart what it really feels.
Just sit still in a comfortable position, and place your hand on your heart and ask, ‘What do I really feel?’
Let the feelings flow. Just let them come to the surface and stop burying them underneath your busyness
Once you have felt and acknowledged these feelings, then go on and ask your heart, ‘How do I want to feel instead?’
Let the thoughts of these new emotions enter your heart. Feel you heart begin to lighten. Feel your chest begin to open up and start to breathe deeply again.
Once you have finished this exercise, write your answers down in a journal, just so that you can keep a record of where you are starting from, and where you want to go.
Take regular moments during the day, perhaps around your meal breaks, just to check back in with your heart and ask those questions again. Note down and reflect on any changes that are happening.
OK, so now you are accepting how you are truly feeling and allowing yourself time to acknowledge your emotions, it’s time to take some positive action against your fear.
Fear is the main thing that holds us back in life.
Fear surrounds the things that we do not want to face in life. Fear is the emotion that keeps us hiding under our duvet rather than facing up to what is really happening in our lives.
Fear is what is currently holding you back from making changes in your life.
So, you need to face this fear head on.
What is happening in your day that is keeping fear alive within you?
Is there something that you want to say ‘no’ to, but feel you must say ‘yes’ out of ‘duty’?
Is there a bill that you can’t bring yourself to even look at, let alone open up a discussion about it?
What important tasks are you putting off because you don’t want to face up to them?
What is it that is making you restless when you go to sleep each night?
Whatever it is, then please understand that you cannot hide from it. Fear has got to you already and living with fear within you, will destroy your life far quicker than facing up to the tasks that you need to take responsibility for.
Yes, it’s easier said than done, but each minute, hour or day that you put these uncomfortable tasks off, the more you are allowing your fear to grow inside and the worse the overall situation will become.
It’s time to act now.
Open up that letter. Make that call. Do that uncomfortable task that you have been procrastinating over.
Get it out of the way. Make the first steps to resolve the issues that are keeping you awake each night and causing arguments within your relationships.
OK, so that is an action step – a big action step. Now let’s look at another.
Let’s look at taking short breaks in your day.
Many of us work continuously while there are hours in the day, and then squeeze in a few more hours in the evening.
We work endlessly, whether it is at a job or within our home.
We don’t stop. We make cups of tea, thinking we will have a break, then get distracted only to find that same cup of tea 2 hours later, still sitting on the counter, stone cold.
While I realise that taking breaks can be particularly hard when you have young children around, you still need to work out a system where you can manage some ‘down time’. When my children were little, I found that going for walks with them was a great way for me to incorporate a break into my day. I would bundle them into their double stroller, and I would head to the park. If they slept, I would take a moment to sit on the park bench and enjoy some rest time. Some days I would walk to a friend’s house and we would let the children play together, while we would take it in turns to have a hot drink.
Kids or no kids. Having a business or working for an employer. No matter your situation, we all have one thing in common. We all have amazingly long to-do lists which never seem to get completed.
The main reason why we never finish our to-do list is because we keep adding to it!
Most of the things we do in a day are never actually written on our list. That means that we look at our list and wonder why we didn’t complete it, and then we start this cycle of self-criticism.
We never complete something then add it to our list. If we did that, then we would see exactly just how much we achieved in a day.
Anyway, no matter your daily situation, you need to try to organise some breaks and some down-time.
Your breaks don’t need to be massively long, but 5 to 10 minutes every hour, really works wonders for your body and mind.
Stand up, move around, stretch, make a drink, take a bathroom break, grab some fresh air, listen to some music – just do something that breaks the cycle before returning to what you were doing.
By doing this you will return to your tasks with a sense of refreshment and increased focus and clarity.
OK, so far, we have addressed our feelings, faced up to our fears and incorporated breaks into our day.
For the next step, I want you to look at your day and see if there are any tasks that you can delegate to others.
Yes, I am seriously suggesting that you ask for help.
No man, or woman, is an island after all, and if you really aren’t able to do everything that you need to do in a day, then something has to give – and it cannot be you.
Either your tasks go, or you get help.
Help can come in different forms.
If you are working for yourself, you may be able to hire someone to help you with certain areas of your business.
If you are in employment, what can you delegate to someone else? Can you discuss this workload with your manager?
If you are struggling with tasks around the home, who can help you? Can you hire someone to help with housework or DIY?
Can you ask the members of your family to help you by doing some of the tasks themselves?
I remember when I was trying to build my current business, but I found that I was spending most of my day on household chores, and I wasn’t getting my business off the ground. After several months of going round in circles and not achieving anything, I had a conversation with my husband and kids and told them that if they wanted to support me in my new venture, then I needed help, and the help I needed was for them to learn to use the washing machine, help with mealtimes, shopping and overall tidying of the house.
I was really surprised by their response. They were all willing to help me and this started off some new routines in our household. With the tasks spread out more, no one is spending hours and hours over it all. It really has made a huge difference to my own day, and with that time, I have been able to grow this wonderful platform called Clarity Junction that help’s other women.
So, it really does make sense to just ask. You never know where help can be found and who will offer it.
My last piece of advice may sound a little ‘out there’.
I have always been fascinated by the interaction between the mind and the body, and also between the body and the mind.
I have learned over the years that what we do physically, our mind interprets into signals, feelings and emotions.
The best example is to stand slouched over and move your head to look down to the ground, then just register how you feel.
Now, bring those shoulders back, straighten your back and lift your head. Stand tall and straight. Again, register how you feel.
Both positions bring completely different senses to the body.
So, my last suggestion for you is to not only always keep checking on your posture throughout the day, but to actually smile.
Yes, smile. I know you don’t feel like smiling when you are stressed, overwhelmed frustrated and feel like crying, but I can tell you that if you smile, or even push harder and try some fake laughter, you will be sending a completely different signal to your brain.
You will be telling it that you are no longer feeling stressed but feeling good.
You can’t feel stressed and good at the same time, so by tricking your mind into feeling good will help to reduce your negative thoughts.
By removing negative thoughts, you are allowing your mind to approach your current situation from a different angle.
Your mood will be raised, and this will lead to better communication skills, so you will be less likely to strike off arguments with those around you.
Your new posture will send off signals that you are more friendly and approachable, so people will be more open to help you.
The happier you act, the more you will fool your body, and soon you will be releasing different hormones in your body which will diminish your stress hormones.
This in turn will help to reduce any aches, pains or stress-related responses that were getting triggered before.
OK, so I hope this suggestion of faking a good mood physically sounds less crazy to you now!
Well, I hope that you have taken note of these 5 suggestions of how you can cope better during stressful days, and you will start putting them into action.
Stress is a terrible cycle to get into as it can really trigger off so many negative events in your life.
The more that you can reduce this stress, the easier it will become to stay on top of your day and prevent yourself from slipping into a cycle leading to burnout.
That’s all for this episode.
My aim to reach out and inspire as many women as possible, so I would love it if you could help me by spreading the word!
Remember to hop over to clarityjunction.com where you will find out more about our membership for women who want more from life.
Thanks for listening.
Bye for now and keep being awesome!