Does your day always go according to you plan?

Usually not right?

We get interrupted constantly and things happen that we had not foreseen.

You’re at work and your boss asks you to do an urgent presentation. You put your normal work aside and are confident you can get this finished within the limited time.

But then the school calls that your kid is sick and needs to be picked up. All of a sudden, what started as a peaceful day, becomes hectic and unmanageable.

Sound familiar?

Let me ask another question: have you felt cranky, had headaches, felt tension in your neck, or craved chocolate lately?

Yup.

These signs are the result of stress and it’s your body calling out for help.

Stress is of course not always bad. It’s your body’s normal reaction to any disruption of ‘normal life’. Good stress can help you fight a fear (speaking in public for example) or give you extra motivation to do something (run a marathon). And in small doses, such stress is fine.

However, when things pop up suddenly or last for a longer period during which you worry about money, your job, your relationship or health, stress can be quite damaging.

Your body is smart however and sends out physical and emotional alarms. If you ignore these alarms, you may be headed towards high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, diabetes, depression, burn out or even suicide.

So when things are not going right, when you feel like you are losing control or are overwhelmed, have a look at the warning signs below. These are some of the ways your body is telling you it needs some extra loving care.

  • Headaches, muscle tension, neck or back pain
  • Upset stomach/bad digestion
  • Chest pains, rapid heartbeat
  • Difficulty falling or staying asleep
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite or overeating “comfort foods”
  • Frequent colds
  • Lack of concentration or focus
  • Memory problems or forgetfulness
  • Irritability / short temper
  • Anxiety

So how do you fight or prevent all this?

Rest

Our society is fast paced and you just can’t be tired. So you fight it (with coffee, with sugar etc). However, these are short term fixes that will hit you in the long run.

So when you feel tired, go to bed early, take a nap in the afternoon (at work: go sit in your car or find a quiet spot). Resting when your body is asking for it will build up energy for the long term.

Eat

When we are stressed, we have a tendency to eat unhealthy. Because we crave all the wrong things that stress requires. The opposite should be happening. You should be eating vegetables, fruit and drink lots. Food is energy. So think about how you feed your energy. And next time you crave chips or chocolate, ask your body what it really needs? Usually it’s not food but just sleep, or a hug, or help.

Be still
Work, daily demands, social media… we are constantly ‘on the line’. Our attention is always on demand. And if we do not get enough rest and healthy food, our mind will be jumpy.
So schedule some time into each day to create some quietness. Be still. Sit down on a bench in the park and listen to the birds. Breathe. Use this app for some easy meditation.

Be gentle

Treat yourself as you would a loved one or your child. You would pamper them, forgive them when they made mistakes, take care of them, be gentle on them. Well, you need to do the same things for yourself. Forgive yourself when you screwed up, get the self care you need, listen to your body and pull the break when things spin out of control.

Say NO

You have limited time and energy. And you can’t do it all. So you need to focus on the things that need to get done. And thus you have to say no to the things that are not in line with your goals. Say no to demands of your time, so no to people who drain you, so no to projects that do not serve your intention.

Say YES

When you have said no enough to create time and space, start saying yes to the things you love. Surround yourself with people who fuel you, projects that bring you joy and that further your development/career/path. Do more of the things you love.

Attitude

No you do not have to change jobs, get a divorce or move to another country. That does not prevent you from being stressed. The steps listed above do and your attitude does. You can let each little thing unnerve you or you can pick your battles. It’s all a matter of attitude. And YOU decide which attitude to have towards a situation.

Effort(less)

When you really live intentionally, things fall into place and become pretty effortless. But you have to let them. So each time you struggle with something, ask yourself what the struggle is about and why it is happening. Can you change it? Yes? Then change it. No? Then let it be. Things happen for a reason. If you know what you want (and actually even if you don’t know), the Universe will send you messages, just like your body does. Telling you to go left when you insist on going right. If you continue to go right you will eventually be stressed and get sick. Always. And stress and sickness are signs that you are a wee bit off your path. Just realign, stop resisting and things will happen effortlessly. They do.

The last one is always my best ‘barometer’ on whether I am on my right path. If things do not feel effortless (reminder: effortless is not ‘no effort’, but effort without struggle!)