Even if you do not have children you can relate to 'one of those days'. We've just all been there and it sometimes feels like when we are having 'one of those days' that the world decides to pile all of the junk it's been holding back for just this moment to see if we will break down this time. We'll get every red light, the boss will notice that we were two minutes late because for the first time in months they were actually there early. Our meetings will run long, lunch will run short, breaks will be few and far between, and the phone will ring, and ring, and ring with silly questions or angry people who all ask to talk to YOU! Why world? What did I do to deserve this personal hell?
How do you work through these times? Do you take time out for yourself? Do you read a book, knit, listen to music, read to your kids, phone a friend, call your mom, exercise, or do you forget to replenish your reserve and just run on empty? If you are in the last group and run on empty you are not alone. However, I want to encourage you last group empty tankers to do something different to get through times that seem to be beating you down.
According to the National Institute of Health (Stress and your health, n.d.) stress in small amounts can be good. For instance when we are facing a deadline at work and we get a burst of energy and produce an awesome piece of work right before the deadline. Cue the cheers and parade for us, right? However, over long periods of time chronic stress can cause health problems. Health problems include: high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, obesity, depression/anxiety, skin problems/acne/eczema, and menstrual problems. Chronic stress can make any of the above documented health concerns worse. Seriously? How many of you have said, "Oh, my gosh. Work is killing me!" You could be hired at a magazine to write horoscopes because you are sort of CORRECT!
Signs of chronic stress include: diarrhea/constipation (yeah, I know it's weird that it is both sides of the spectrum. Essentially, if your bathroom habits have changed significantly it can be a sign that something is off), frequent aches and pains (between shoulders, neck, and lower back are common areas), headaches, loss of energy or focus, sexual problems (loss of desire or interest), stiff neck or jaw (from clenching or grinding teeth. This might be more noticeable in the morning or upon waking, frequently accompanied by headaches that fade without taking medication), tiredness, trouble sleeping/sleeping too much, upset stomach (could indicate an ulcer; Yeah these are still a thing people get. They didn't just fade away with the 90s), use of drugs to relax (this doesn't mean street drugs only--Benadryl is a common one I hear about to help people sleep. If you are finding you need more and more to get the same benefit...we need to talk), and weight loss or gain.
First you need to understand that life gets hectic and everyone gets stuck and stressed sometimes. I am writing this blog post from experience! I started my college journey with two children under the age of 5 and a husband in Iraq. My life frequently looked like my intro paragraph, toothpaste and all, but I survived and I know you can too! The most important thing is to take time for yourself. Find something that you enjoy doing and spend time doing it for 15 minutes every day. Every day! If you have to do 5 minutes at a time, three times a day, then that is perfectly fine. I want to impress upon you how serious I am here though.
This is the cheapest 15 minutes you will ever spend. Think of how much money you could save on future stress related medical bills just by taking 15 minutes to have a cup of tea and read something inspirational each morning before the day gets hectic or at night to wind down. Doing 15 minutes of stretches in the morning and before bed could reduce muscle soreness, bring down fatigue, help you sleep at night, help your body get into sleep mode, and reduce blood pressure. By my count that helps like 90 health related problems right there! I know it's only 5, but I got excited and I am a therapist not a mathematician. How's that for using your time wisely?
In all seriousness, taking time for yourself if important. If you don't make time for yourself who will? How will you convince your children to respect you if you don't respect yourself? What about your significant other? How will you get them to notice you if you don't take the time to appreciate you? You are so much more than worth it. I am serious. I haven't even met you yet, and I truly believe it.
What are some of the ways you wind down when the world reaches out and throws obstacles in your path? I'd love to hear from you. Also, if you are chronically stressed, feel stuck with the hand you've been dealt, and need help moving forward please feel free to give me a call for a free 15 minute consultation today and see if we can work together to move one step closer to your ultimate goal.
Stress and your health. (n.d.) In Medical Encyclopedia--U. S. National Library of Medicine online. Retrieved from http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/003211.htm