Tips for Stress Relief When Life Gets Rough
Sometimes, and sometimes more than that, life gets rough. It can be hard to stay afloat amidst the stresses of work, life, school, relationships or maybe all of the above. I am currently finding myself losing control of my work-life balance (I’m sure you can figure out which one is taking over) and it has caused me to do a lot of reflecting. As a self- proclaimed perfectionist it can be hard to take a step back and look objectively at this aspect of my life. However, after getting sick a few years ago I have realized I can’t work myself as hard as I used to. If I do, I won’t be in a condition to accomplish any of my goals. Subsequently, I have taken more time for myself and stress relieving activities.
Short Lyme update
Let’s start with the positives. As a whole I am doing better. I no longer have as extreme food sensitivities and many of the gut problems I previously suffered from have decreased dramatically. On the other hand, I am struggling more severely with the Lyme and its co-infections. There are a variety of reasons this might be happening. For one, it took a long time for me to get on the Lyme protocol, a series of supplements used instead of antibiotics. First, I had to fight off the other bugs that were compromising my immune system and preventing it from being strong enough to handle the Lyme supplements. Waiting so long to get on the actual Lyme supplements has made my monthly flare-ups increasingly ~unpleasant~ to put it mildly. Also, being back at school has involved dealing with different types and more sources of stress than I was faced with during the summer.
Chronic stress is never helpful but let’s face it, in this day and age which of us is devoid of any stressors? With it being my senior year in college, having 3 jobs, an independent study, a teaching assistant position, and a full course load I have found myself staying up later and facing more stress. It helps that I love my classes and enjoy all the work I do but it doesn’t change the fact that there aren’t enough hours in the day to do everything I need, let alone be able spend a little “me time” as well. This brings me to the topic of this blog: Figuring out how to get a handle on everything life may be throwing at you. Achieving a work (or relationship, school, etc) - life balance is hard but trust me, it pays off in the long term. Below are some tips I have found to help me feel like I still have a say on everything in my life.
Make Lists- Do One Thing At A Time
When life feels out of control it can be hard to keep your mind focused on the tasks at hand. Making a list the night before can help you focus on one task at a time and avoid juggling your attention. This has the added benefit of clearing your mind before bed so you don’t lose sleep over what you need to do the next day. In addition to being overwhelming, many studies have also shown that when you shift your attention from one task to another, the first task takes an average of 25% longer to finish. So staying focused will help you get more things done!
Work In Intervals
Unlike computers, we aren’t made to function at a high level for continuous periods of time. Instead, we are designed to alternate between resting and replenishing our energy and then expending it. Our bodies work on a circuit, known as the Ultradian Rhythm, which is a 90-minute cycle that begins at intense awareness and progresses into fatigue. To get the most out of your work and avoid the dreaded “burn out”, work for no longer than 90 minute intervals. Between intervals take a few minutes to emotionally, mentally, and physically relax and recharge. I find working in intervals keeps me focused as well since I have a set stop point where I can take a break instead of succumbing to distractions in the moment.
Rest Until You Feel Rested
Most people need about 7 hours of sleep a night. However, if you aren’t getting deep sleep you may need more to feel fully rested. If possible, try shifting your sleep schedule so you go to sleep when you are tired which may be earlier than your normal bedtime. This will help you achieve a deeper sleep and you might find yourself getting up earlier, feeling fully rested.
Do The Most Important Things In The Morning
I find that I encounter fewer distractions in the morning and can focus more intensely with a fresh and awake brain. As a result, I have begun to prioritize my day by finishing my most important tasks first. This helps ease my stress since the important assignments can get crossed off my to-do list, while making them easier to accomplish since I can focus and complete them at a higher quality.
Stay Firm To Your “Me” Time
With concrete deadlines, phone calls, and meetings it can be hard to prioritize yourself. However, it is important to take a day, or at least a few hours, each week to recharge. This “me” time will give you a positive boost to face the rest of the week with enthusiasm and energy you may not otherwise have. If possible, choose the same day each week and write into your calendar the time you plan to take for yourself. Having it in writing means you will be less tempted to schedule meetings or other work during those hours.
Learn How To Say “No"
Saying no can be one of the hardest things to do, but in order to take time for yourself it is something that must be done. When you say “yes” to favors, people come to expect you to do them on demand and this can be a hard cycle to break. Saying “no" allows you to take time for activities you enjoy and avoid items that others with a more vested interest can take care of.
Stop Expecting Perfection
This goes for yourself and for others. No one is perfect and that is okay. In fact, it’s life, and you may come to realize that you find perfection in the appreciation of imperfection. We are all flawed and those flaws are what make us who we are. It isn’t fair to deny our own faults or highlight others' since they are what make us who we are and help shape who we will become. Besides, constantly striving for perfection in ourselves can be exhausting!