by Rob Basler
Everyone is busy. Between work, school, kids, errands and everything else you’ve got going on, feeling stressed out and overwhelmed can sneak up on you. The symptoms of stress can include headaches, muscle tension, sleep and digestive problems, trouble thinking clearly and irritability. It can be hard to monitor your stress levels and manage them.
Some things you can do to keep your stress levels in check include getting adequate sleep and nutrition, exercise, using supportive relationships and taking time to relax. Sometimes, even thinking about trying to do these things is enough to stress us out!
So here is a quick and easy way to check in on yourself and help manage your stress level in the moment. First, ask yourself a simple question: what’s my energy level? Then ask: do I feel comfortable or uncomfortable?
Often when we think of energy, we think in a simple binary fashion; high is good, low is bad. The reality is that all of us have a level of energy that feels best to us. Ask yourself what you like to do on vacation. Do you like to sit on the beach with a good book? Do you like to go out dancing? Hitting that optimal energy level helps us recharge and function at our best. So if you are in a long checkout line, or the boss has dropped a new project on your desk, or if your child tells you they have a project due TOMORROW, take a second and pay attention to how your energy is. If it is high, do you feel energized and excited, or jittery? If your energy is not comfortable, take a few seconds and do something to change it.
If you want to bring your energy down, try closing your eyes and taking three slow, deep breathes. If you want to bring it up, get up and move around for a minute or two. Take note of how that moves your energy. Over time, you can build up a toolbox of quick, anyplace activities to manage your energy and feel better right when you need it most.
A tip of the hat to Kristine Kinniburgh, co-author of Treating Traumatic Stress in Children and Adolescents for giving me the idea.