People often use the summer months to catch up on much needed relaxation. The season can bring opportunities to read in a hammock, soak in rays by the pool or make memories with your family while on vacation. Even with all the fun that summer can bring, this time of year is not immune to stress. Planning a vacation in itself can be so stressful that you deserve a vacation. Here are a few stress management tips that can help you enjoy the leisure time summer provides.
The circumstances causing the stress can be overwhelming. Work projects, kids running around the house with endless energy, finances, and relationships can hit a person hard, one by one or all at once. It’s easy to feel overloaded and buried.
It’s helpful to clearly identify what is causing the most stress in your life. Knowing the greatest stressor can provide you better direction on how to address it. Recognizing what you can control (and what you cannot) will let you be more aware of when and how you can be effectively assertive for the change you need to be happier in the situation.
While you can’t fully escape the majority of these situations, you can and should take a break from them when you can. Stepping away (either physically or virtually) for 15 to 20 minutes can make a world of difference. Take a Candy Crush break. Walk around the block. Invest in a hobby (play the piano, crochet, creative write). Journal. While you can’t control all the factors that influence your life, you can filter the depth to which they affect you. Creating some space from the stressful conditions can lead to new perspectives and a refreshed, strengthened spirit.
You are not alone. It can be very easy to feel isolated in your situation. Whether you are a single parent or running your own company, stressful circumstances can perpetuate the idea you are doing it all on your own. There are resources out there that can help; all you have to do is look.
Do you need help with child care? Ask nearby family for some (free) babysitting. Reach out to friends and neighbors to schedule playdates; offer “trades” because, just like you, your friends need a parenting break too. Research summer day camps that will entertain and enrich your kids while providing you some “me” time.
Schedule time with your friends. That’s right – face to face time … not just commenting on their status update on Facebook or liking their picture on Instagram. Whether filled with laughter or just a time to vent, socializing with those you love and respect can create a sense of togetherness, build community and remind you that you’re not alone!
At work, list tasks that you currently do that could be delegated to others. Also, identify co-workers you trust and respect and see if there are ways they can pitch in on a project that might be a bit too much for you as one person. These provide opportunities not only to develop the professional experience of your colleagues but also to strengthen those relationships.
If things are really feeling too much to handle overall, schedule time with a counselor, psychologist, psychiatrist. Mental health professionals will be able to provide unique insight and methods to cope with the specific stress you’re facing in your life. Check with your health care provider what might be covered with your insurance. If you need free options, search on the internet for free therapy near you and see the options that come up. You’ll be surprised who close and easy it is to find.
There is no harm in asking for help.
Take a moment to listen to everything around you, this includes your calendar, your body and your mind.
What is your calendar telling you? Where’s your time being spent? Color-coding by category can help you quickly see. Is your calendar balanced? Are you scheduling time for you to refuel and refocus? No matter how full your calendar may seem, it’s important for you to build in time to do things that you enjoy, whether that’s practicing a hobby, going to see a movie or doing nothing at all. And, remember, “No” is not a bad word. Prioritize your own well-being high enough so that you are not afraid to say “no” when too much is asked of you.
What is your body saying? Stress is proven to take a toll on the body. The more you do to keep yourself healthy, the better you will manage your stress. There are actually so many ways you can reduce stress by taking care of your body that we’ll cover that in an upcoming blog post. The important thing is to listen to your body when it tells you what it needs. It doesn’t lie.
What messages is your mind sending? Frequently, in times of stress, the mind can be a tricky place. Negative thoughts can multiple, and negative voices can get louder. “You’ll never do it.” “This is too hard.” “You’re failing.” Often, these thoughts are fueled by the stress and your surrounding circumstances. Remember, not every thought we have is true. While these discouraging thoughts can echo around inside, take a moment to capture it and analyze it. Is the negative thought true? Is it something you have control over and can change? Is it helping you succeed in what you aim to do? Is it kind? What if a friend said they were thinking that thought about him or herself? What would your response be to that person? The kindness you would extend to others needs to be also shared with yourself.
No matter the season, stresses find us. How prepared we are to deal with them will determine the degree to which they affect us. Be prepared to face the stresses summer may bring with strength and confidence so that you go into fall relaxed and with a great tan.