April is stress awareness month, and this has been held every April since 1992 to raise awareness of the ways we can better manage the modern-day stress epidemic.
For a multitude of reasons, the pace of life has accelerated and in a rapidly evolving world of too much choice and overwhelm, it can be challenging to establish a healthy balance. Everyday pressures can build up and affect our stress levels without us even being aware that it is happening.
It is important therefore to be self-aware in terms of how what our stress triggers are also the pressure we may be putting ourselves under.
Here are five important questions to ask yourself about stress and the pressure you may be putting yourself under.
1. How good am I at setting personal boundaries?
Boundaries are a sign of self-respect and if we don’t respect our own boundaries why should we expect anyone else to?
Personal boundaries are essential to healthy relationships and managing unnecessary stress and establishing boundaries is about knowing and understanding what our limitations are. We are after all only human, and we only have so much capacity.
To set healthy boundaries we need to know where we stand by identifying our physical, emotional, and spiritual limits. We also need to consider what we can tolerate and accept and what makes us feel uncomfortable or stressed.
It is essential to give ourselves the permission to set boundaries and work to preserve them.
2. Do I feel guilty for taking time out for myself?
Making our own personal well-being our biggest priority has nothing to do with being selfish. No one needs to feel guilty or ashamed about this. It is, in fact, the most responsible approach to life. If we spend our life running around after everyone else eventually, we will burn out and all the people we were worried about letting down will need to look after us!
When we put together our daily to do-list we need to make sure we put ourselves on it!
Factoring ourselves in and making a commitment to create some “me time” by investing in self-care and establishing habits is essential in avoiding burnout.
3. Am I a people-pleaser?
Whilst people-pleasers are often seen as helpful, and kind people they can also struggle advocating for themselves, which can potentially lead to a harmful pattern of self-sacrifice or self-neglect.
If you can identify with this then there may well be occasions where it will be helpful to be assertive and protect your depleted energy levels by saying, “Whilst I would love to help you, at the moment I simply don’t have the capacity to do this.”
It’s also important to bear in mind you will not be able to please everyone and saying yes to others may well mean saying no to yourself and that can lead to resentment which causes stress!
4. Am I a perfectionist?
A desire to do our best is an admirable quality and, of course, there are some situations where cutting corners is not an option. It is important, however, to work out whether there are occasions when we waste precious time and resources, attempting to achieve perfectionism in absolutely everything we do.
Reversioning something to the nth degree, or getting bogged down in analysis paralysis, can be both stressful and for others around us. There will be instances where a particular task is simply better done than perfect.
5. How good am I at switching off?
In this overstimulated and highly demanding world that we live in it is essential that we create moments of sanctuary in our day, and taking time to switch off from technology, is fundamental to our overall wellbeing.
Going immediately from one meeting or task to another can be exhausting. It is far more constructive to take some time out to have rest stops, so we can clear our minds, relax and recharge.
Everyday pressures can build up and affect our stress levels without us even being aware that it is happening, and the creep of burnout can be insidious.
When it comes to stress it is important to bear in mind that not all stress is bad however long-term stress can harm our health so it is really important that we learn how to positively manage our stress levels to stay healthy, happy and energised.
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