I have written this opening sentence over a dozen times now. I don’t want it to read like a blog post. Sadly, that’s exactly the way it is going to read. “I am stressed!” There’s no other colorful way to paint the picture. “I am stressed!”
The reality is that I’m running around in a fit of anxiety and stress 24-7. The responsibility of being in charge of a growing society, ensuring the employees are well taken care of, my own personal financial concerns, a recently failed relationship, two teenagers making me turn prematurely gray, trying to keep up with my household responsibilities…I am stressed! But aren’t we all.
As I sat on the plane returning from a 10-day trip to Firehouse Expo and the NFPA Responder Forum, finally taking a deep breath and reflecting on “life,” I decided to address my own inner enemy. My stress! I spent the next two hours jotting down the things I needed to improve in my own life in order to reduce my stress and take control of my mind, body and spirit. Sharing these personal notes is my way of saying you should take control of your own mind, body and spirit. Commit to one change a week! While there is no “one size fits all” way to manage stress there are lifestyle changes we all need.
- Get enough sleep: I’m guilty. I crave it, my body is deprived of it, but I can’t figure out how to turn off the lights, put down the electronic device, and simply go to sleep. Committing to a solid sleep regiment is my first step. Simple enough right?
- Exercise regularly: I’m scared to talk about this one out loud. I dislike working out. The gym is a little piece of hell that sits on the corner of Rt. 30 and 360. But I’m going to power through and make this an essential part of my week.
- Eat a balanced diet: I’m assuming this means I have to cut back on my cheese dip and runs to the beer fridge to replace my empty koozie holder. Perhaps one of the harder lifestyle changes for me due to years of bad habits. It’s not rocket science, but I’ve committed to research what will work best for my lifestyle.
- Have a support system: Surrounding myself with family and friends who support my goals is the easiest of the tasks to accomplishment. I am purging myself of anyone who simply doesn’t add healthy value to my life. Talking to my support team is also a key component to this success.
- Take time for yourself everyday: We are all being stretched thin by our commitments to everyone BUT us. I am dedicating a minimum of 30 minutes a day to enjoy something that benefits me.
Changing the way we think about situations which cause us stress is perhaps the first step to taking control! I firmly believe this happens by either changing the situation which is causing the stress or changing how we look at the situation. Setting realistic expectations about the situation is key. Is this necessary? Is this my problem? Can I delegate? Does this have to be perfect? Am I adding this stress to my life out of a choice of my own? Be open to change.
We are worth the investment in these lifestyle changes to reduce our stress. As the holidays approach, and your “to do list” continues to grow, consider making these simple changes to your life and join me in reducing our stress to live a happier more balanced life. I could use a few teammates in this journey!