With the buzz of the new year beginning to fade I find that January and February can be an especially stressful time. For many of us this is the peak of winter – grey, dreary and cold days. Plus there isn’t much to look forward to such as a holiday or long weekends. The focus in these months for many is WORK. Quarter 1. The daily grind. Returning to the spring semester of school, kids schedules, taxes, planning your whole year because nurse scheduling is like that.
Whenever I find myself overwhelmed and stressed out whether it’s a bad day or an exhausting week I turn to a few stress management strategies and simply chose what feels best on that day.
1). Self Care.
Self care comes in many many forms, my preference is a massage or a facial or just mindless time on the couch watching Netflix. I relax on my couch and let all the outside stresses melt away even if it’s just for an hour. Investing in a treatment like this doesn’t have to feel like a treat, it’s an opportunity to mentally recuperate and serve your body. Alternatively some nights at home in the evening I take extra time doing my skin care, masking, etc., and definitely soaking in a hot bubble bath too. I sleep really well when I take time to do this.
2). Get moving.
To be honest, I don’t always feel like working out when I’m stressed. But I ALWAYS feel better after doing it! Joining a gym or taking group fitness classes keeps me accountable. I schedule my workouts at the same time almost every week to help form a consistent routine. I try to find 3 nights a week and sign up for after shift sessions even though I am tired as hell, I sleep much better after a class after work!
Stress leads to cravings and time crunches lead to ordering in. But what’s the after effect? For me it’s feeling crappy and more tired than before. Instead I try and mindfully create a nutrient dense meal that makes me feel good! I genuinely enjoy cooking, it’s therapeutic for me and it’s even better when I feel refreshed and energized after enjoying the meal. My go-to is rotisserie chicken and brussels sprouts or a cobb salad with lots of protein. I keep snacks on hand at work and I also keep protein shakes and supplement shakes in the fridge at work as well, and pray that nobody throws them out. LOL!!!!
4). Turn off social media.
This step helps with the anxiety part of stress for me. When I’m stressed and unmotivated scrolling passed tons of people who ‘have it all together’ (even though I know they don’t, none of us do) can be pretty anxiety provoking. “Why is this person ALWAYS so motivated and so productive today and I’m not?”, “Why is this persons business flowing with ease while I feel like I am not growing?”. We’ve all had a version of these thoughts swirling in our minds. The solution, log out, set it down, take a break. I’ve always liked the idea of dedicating time an hour before bed and an hour after getting up to NOT being on social media. I confess, this isn’t always how it goes down, but I feel better when I stick to it!
5). Try something new.
This is my stress management tip for when the stress is out of your control. When there’s nothing you can do about anything and you just need to step away and be distracted try something new. You don’t necessarily have to get way out of your comfort zone, it can be simple. Explore a new fitness class you’ve never tried, try out a new recipe to cook, take a painting class or go hit a few golf balls, visit the batting cages, or visit a museum and play pretend tourist in your own city.
Different methods of stress management work better for me depending on the type of stress I’m facing. A stressful day at work warrants cooking(or ordering) a nice meal. A stressful relationship situation usually sends me to the gym or for a fun, or in desperate levels of stress- SHOPPING. LOL. The stress of mourning or loss challenges me to distract myself by trying something new. The stress of an overwhelmingly busy schedule forces me to turn off social media and just relax and refocus my energy.
Stress looks different for everyone. It’s crucial we take care of our bodies and minds. What helps you handle stress?