Mindful Mondays are about paying attention to what you are paying attention to.
Today, I have found an excerpt of an article from Patricia Rockman, MD, which may be of interest to help you mindfully manage stress, with some simple and practical tips:
Mindfully Manage Stress
When faced with a stressor, you experience a physiological response. Your heart may speed up or you may feel sweaty, hyper-focused, or have the urge to avoid whatever feels unpleasant in the moment.
The stress response builds in stages, starting with a series of warnings, leading to an effort to halt the offense, and if that doesn’t work (as in the case of chronic stress) it ends with burnout.
At any point along the way, there are opportunities to intervene and shift your response. But it starts with being aware of what’s happening—and wise enough to know where it’s leading.
These warning signs indicate you may be heading toward burnout:
• You feel disenchanted and cynical
• It’s difficult to get out of bed—and it’s equally as difficult to get started on any task
• You have a short fuse with people
• You feel sapped of energy
• Sleep and appetite may be affected
• You may be using substances to avoid feelings
• You may have physical symptoms like headaches and backaches
Alone or together, these symptoms are insidious, impacting all aspects of your life, from self-care to relationships to work performance. Left unchecked, stress can lead to greater risks to health and well-being.
But it doesn’t have to get that far! No matter the cause of your stress, here are a few steps you can take to manage it:
Make a list of your personal stressors.
Think of them in terms of those that are acute and chronic or internal and external. (Realize that these categories might overlap.) Writing them down can help you deconstruct them, making them less overwhelming and more manageable by externalizing them.
Determine which stressors you can change and which ones you can’t.
Once you identify a stressor that can’t be changed, ask yourself how you might bring a change in attitude or perspective to it. Can you see it differently? Can a problem become a learning opportunity or a challenge to overcome? Can a task become something that gives you a sense of accomplishment?
Do one small thing.
Brainstorm one small, manageable way of beginning to address the stressor in positive and concrete terms: Think about what you are going to do rather than what you won’t do. Set a time to start and to finish. Don’t try to do too much. Remember, small steps are key.
Build a support network.
Identify inner and outer resources for getting support and managing your stress. Make a list of people, places, activities, or things that can help. Maybe you need an exercise buddy, a friend to vent to regularly, or to research classes or other new opportunities. Are there activities that you’ve stopped doing, such as early morning yoga, or a podcast that you used to enjoy? Start small and build your toolbox from there.
Identify your triggers.
We typically have automatic and habitual reactions to certain stressors. Can you identify yours? Maybe you head to the refrigerator, chew your nails, or like to drive fast when you feel stressed. Make a list and then explore how you might bring mindfulness to these reactions. Perhaps stopping and taking a breath, paying attention to body sensations, or bringing curiosity to the experience may disrupt the tendency to cascade into a stress spiral.
Finally, don’t forget that everything changes.
Nothing lasts. And since change is inevitable, we can remind ourselves of this and get a little breathing room if nothing else until the stress storm passes.