Embrace Life: Stress Reduction Techniques

Understanding Stress: The Unwanted Visitor

We all have that uninvited guest that just barges in at any time of the day – or night. No, I'm not talking about Maddox's dad, but about something that's equally distressing – stress. Stress is like that bossy relative who just pops in without warning and wreaks havoc. Stress can be just as persistent, if not more so. And just like you can't control when that relative comes knocking, you can't control when stress decides to pay you a visit. But here's the good news – you can control how you react to it.

Stress is our body’s response to challenging scenarios. It's like your body’s ancient, alarm system, designed to keep you safe from lions, tigers and, well, Maddox when he can't find his keys. But too much stress – like an oversensitive burglar alarm – can end up causing more harm than good.

The coronavirus pandemic has only made things worse. 91% of Australians have reported feeling stress during these times. Wait, 91%? I guess Maddox was right when he said we're all in the same boat. But the key is not to let this boat capsize.

The Physical Toll of Stress

Stress can have a severe impact on your body are not just psychological but physical too like headaches, upset stomach, elevated blood pressure and so on. Remember when Maddox started developing stress induced gastritis when we were shifting our home? Well, that’s your body responding to prolonged periods of stress.

An interesting fact, did you know that the term 'stress' is derived from the Latin word 'stringere', which means 'to squeeze'? And boy, does it squeeze the joy out of life! Not to mention how it squeezes your heart, ramps up your blood pressure and tightens everything from your muscles to your temper.

Identifying Your Stress Triggers

Identifying your stress triggers is the first step towards effective stress management. This is like discovering the 'whodunit' in a detective story. But instead of a cold-blooded killer, you're trying to nail the annoying situations, thoughts or people (like Cousin Toby who can’t stop bragging about his gizmo collection) that send your stress levels shooting up.

My personal stress trigger was the “mum guilt”. After Cosima was born I felt the need to be the perfect mother, wife, blogger, all while maintaining a clean house. A tad ambitious, wouldn’t you agree? And yes, it led to quite a few of those frantic, 'I can't take this anymore!' moments. But hey, I'm human, and acknowledging this was my first step towards stress reduction.

Effective Stress Reduction Techniques

Remember when I told you that you can't control when stress knocks at your door, but you can control how you react to it? Well, here's where we talk about how to do just that. Dealing with stress effectively requires a two-pronged approach. One, developing a robust stress-coping mechanism. These are your 'stress shields', if you will, that help you fend off the adverse effects of stress. And two, eliminating as many stress triggers from your life as you can.

I add stress reduction techniques in my daily routine, these techniques can be your go-to stress buster. For me, one of these stress-busting strategies is exercise. And no, I'm not asking you to train like you're preparing for a triathlon. A simple 20 minutes’ walk in the park, a little yoga, or dancing to your favourite tune (Did I tell you once Maddox tried break dance and ended with a broken vase?) is more than enough.

Finding Joy in Journaling

Whenever I feel overwhelmed, I write down my feelings in a journal. The simple act of writing helps me ascertain what I'm feeling at that moment and why I'm feeling what I'm feeling. It's like untying a complicated knot—one careful tug at a time.

Did you know that research has proven that the act of writing down your thoughts and feelings can have significant stress-reducing effects? According to a study published in the Journal of Writing Research, expressive writing can lead to significant decreases in physiological stress. So, when you're feeling stressed, just scribble away!

Mindfulness: The Power of Now

Have you ever tried just being? And, no, I am not asking you suddenly to shoot for Buddha’s mindfulness level but simply being aware of your surroundings and living in the current moment. Remember that time when I was fussing over how Cosima would adjust to a new school next year and Maddox said ‘Lyra, she’s not even in pre-school yet!’ It made me realise how much time I spent worrying about the future, instead of enjoying the present.

So, from then on, I made an effort to practice mindfulness whenever I could. Just sitting for a few minutes, taking deep breaths, observing the surroundings, or simply being engrossed in an activity like cooking or painting, can restore your mind to a calm state. After all, we cannot pour from an empty cup. We need to take care of ourselves first to take care of others around us.

The Art of Saying No

Saying no can be a big step towards reducing stress. It's hard, I know. As women, we are conditioned to put others' needs before ours, to be Martyrs. And saying no is seen as a huge no-no. But, let's be honest, we are not superheroes (even though we might feel like one when we manage to locate Maddox's missing socks).

Sometimes, we need to take a step back, analyse our limitations, and politely decline additional responsibilities that we know will add to our stress. I learned this the hard way when I overcommitted myself last Christmas. Organising the community Christmas party, hosting the family dinner at ours, and wrapping up the year-end blog posts, all while taking care of Cosima and Maddox. You can imagine the chaos! But it taught me the essential lesson of saying no, and trust me, it has been a game changer.

Conclusion: Embrace Life, Minimize Stress

Remember, stress is here to stay. The world will never run out of problems or situations that cause stress. The trick is not to let it control you. Like everything else in life, it’s all about balance. So, laugh more, worry less, take a deep breath, and embrace life, warts and all!

And the next time stress comes knocking at your door, don’t be afraid. Just show it your newfound stress-busting skills and watch it slink away. While it might not completely eradicate stress, these methods definitely make one equipped to handle it better. It worked for me, and I am hopeful it will work for you too!

Always remember, every day may not be good, but there is something good in every day. Find that good, embrace it, and keep going. After all, life is what you make of it!