We’re all stressed out at some point in our lives. It’s a fact. If it’s not caused by work, it’s caused by our families, our environments, and even the holidays. So, how can we manage stress?
What is stress?
We throw around the word “stress” a lot, but what is it really?
According to Dr. Nicole Lepera, Psychologist & Best selling author of How to do the work, “Stress is more than just a mental state; it is an internal condition that challenges homeostasis, which is a state of physical, emotional, and mental balance.”
That means that any change has the potential to cause you stress, big or small, and we all express stress differently. It’s important to know how stress shows up in yourself to be able to navigate through it.
How does stress show up?
There are four key ways we express stress:
- Physical: muscles tension, fatigue, anxiety, nausea, headaches
- Behavioral: impatient, unable to relax, making more mistakes, isolating yourself
- Emotional: scared, worried, angry, resentful, irritated, frustrated, depressed, feeling neglected
- Cognitive: incapable of planning, concerned with past or future, lower concentration, negative or inflexible thinking
How do you experience stress?
Managing Stress with a Seabreeze Cocktail
A lot of us think that stress is bad, and it is when it gets to be too much, but in moderation and with strong management, stress can motivate us and help us achieve our goals. So, sip a little spirit of the season and join us for a Sea Breeze at the Stress-Free Speakeasy. Follow the steps below to
Step 1: Measure out your Triggered Tito’s Vodka
When it comes to managing stress, always start from a place of awareness. Hopefully, earlier in this blog, you were able to identify HOW your stress shows up (physical, behavioral, emotional, and cognitive), and now you need to figure out WHY it shows up. What triggers your stress?
Sit down and think about the last time you were experiencing symptoms of stress. What situation caused them?
Here are a few examples of stressful situations to get you thinking:
- Falling behind
- Feeling underutilized
- Feeling micromanaged
- Conflict with a manager or coworker
- Not feeling or being listened to
- Having to switch gears frequently
What kind of theme do you notice about the situations that cause you stress?
Frequently, a specific environment type will be your main source of stress. Identifying which environment stresses you out the most and why can help you create a better action plan and stop stress before it takes over.
Here are four environments that frequently cause people stress:
- Ambiguous Environments: When there’s room for many different interpretations
- Uncertain Environments: When there is imperfect or unknown information
- New Environments: When there’s no experience to fall back on
- Unpredictable Environments: Where it’s unclear how something will turn out.
Once you’re aware of your triggers, then you can start to self-regulate.
Step 2: Pour your Crank it up cranberry juice.
If there’s anything that stress teaches us, it’s that we are our bodies––it seems simple, but sometimes it’s easy to forget. Extreme stress can lead to us becoming physically ill, disrupting our hormones and bodily functions like sleep, hunger, digestion, and more.
To help regulate stress, you need to tap back into your body and crank up your physiology through movement.
OK PAUSE, stand up. Bend your knees. Put your arms in a position like you’re about to sprint and then pump them like you actually are, keeping your feet in place. Do this for a minute! It may feel strange.
Sit down now. How do you feel? A little bit ridiculous, but maybe also a bit lighter?
Cranking up that energy level through physical movement releases endorphins in your brain, increases your oxygen levels, and promotes blood circulation. Basically, it helps set your body on the right track when you’re stressed.
Figure out what works for you when you’re feeling stressed. Maybe you’ll find doing 30 seconds of jumping jacks helps relieve some of that tension, or turning on your favorite song and dancing around until it’s done melts the stress away.
Pick one exercise or movement right now to be your stress savior.
But, stress isn’t just physical, it’s also mental.
Step 2: Add your gratitude grapefruit juice.
Physical movement helps us alleviate stress in the moment, but we need to shift our mental state as well. When we’re stressed, it’s easy to stay stuck in a loop of negative thinking and self-talk. One way to disrupt that negative mindset is through expressing gratitude.
As Dr. Sonja Lyubomirsky, Ph.D. Psychology of Happiness at Stanford says, “Gratitude is an antidote to negative emotions, a neutralizer of worry, and irritation. It is savoring; it is not taking things for granted; it is present-oriented”
In fact, Gratitude helps lower cortisol (the stress hormone) levels in our bodies by about 23 percent, thereby preventing the health problems that stress can lead up to like heart disease and more (Psychology Today).
Take a moment. Make a list of everything you are grateful for in life. How many can you come up with in under 1 minute?
How many people are on your list? Go tell them you’re grateful for them.
Connection is another key tool in managing stress. Being able to appreciate and confide in our loved ones helps us occupy a positive mindset that protects us against stress.
Step 3: Add your choice of sweetener, mix, and enjoy.
With that, you’re now relaxing, Seabreeze Cocktail from the Stress-Free Speakeasy in hand.
When encountering a stressful situation, first be aware that it’s happening. Know your triggers (ambiguity, uncertainty, and more) and then recognize the signs (muscle aches, forgetfulness and more).
Once you know that you’re experiencing stress, use your two tactics––engaging in physical activity and expressing gratitude––to shift your body and your mind.
Stress is normal. Stress happens. And you have the capability to manage it and use it to your advantage.