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It’s Time For Your Yearly Stress Check-Up

April 9, 2018

It’s 3 AM and You’re Still Awake!

Don’t worry you’re not alone. Over half the adult population isn’t getting enough sleep and are staying awake all stressed out.

April is Stress Awareness Month. It’s time to do a stress awareness test.

Is your mental and physical health in danger from the stress in your life? Take this simple quick stress awareness test to find out.

  1. Do you chronically say, “I’m exhausted” and are concerned about your health?
  2. Do you find you can’t remember things or are you having memory loss?
  3. Do you worry or feel frustrated or angry?
  4. Have you experienced recent weight gain or weight loss out of the ordinary?
  5. Have you had trouble sleeping through the night?

If you have answered “yes” to three of these questions you may have an increased risk for depression, anxiety disorders, diseases, and other conditions because of your stress level. Learn how your answers relate to your health risks with examples listed below.

  • Insomnia. Stress disturbs your sleep and affects your immune, cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, and endocrine systems.
  • Memory. Scientific research tells us that chronic stress directly affects our memory and the brain.
  • Anger and Worry. Constant worry and anger can cause stress hormones to be released that increase your risk for cardiovascular disease, hypertension, and other diseases.
  • Weight Gain. Chronic stress produces the hormone cortisol in your body causing you to not only gain weight, but it is more difficult to lose weight.
  • Disease and Conditions. Stress is the driver for most diseases and conditions we develop.

There are three keys to become aware of the stress in your life. Just remember the acronym ACE. The three keys are AwarenessChoice, and Energy. When you become aware of these three key windows, you can begin to navigate them.

A=AWARENESS

Stress awareness begins by developing your Awareness (A) of your daily experiences. Become aware of what ignites your passion, energy, and love. What drains you, distracts you, and irritates you? These are clues to becoming more aware of what you love and what stresses you. Write down these clues. When you write things down it gives you a greater focus on your goals.

  1. Write It Down. Take a piece of paper and draw a line down the center with a plus sign on the left and a minus sign on the right.
  2. Credit (+Plus). Every day, under the plus sign, write the things that give you energy and bring joy to your life like your job, dog, spouse, or your garden. Think back to your day and recall moments that made you happy.
  3. Debit (-Minus). On the minus side of the paper ask yourself, “What drains your energy in your life?” Write things that sap your energy and make you irritable. These are your stress triggers. Learn stress reduction practices to become resilient to these stressors.
  4. For at least a week. Become aware of what you love, what is important to you, what is draining your energy, and the stressors affecting your life.
Awareness Check

Put each of these on credit and debit sides of the line.

  • Persons that affect your life. Such as family members, friends, and coworkers.
  • Tasks that affect your life. Such as meetings, work, carpool, meals, and family time.
  • Emotions that affect your life. Such as guilt, shame, worry, expectations, excuses, fear, anger, self-image, or complaining.
  • Money affects your life. Your financial status, wage earners, problems, challenges, and blessings.
  • Time is the holy grail in life. Time has a purpose. What are the positive or happiness ways you spend your time? What are the negative or draining ways you spend your time?
C=CHOICE

Now that you have become more aware of your stressors it is time to realize the power of Choice (C) in your life. Your current life is a result of the choices you have made and your responses to the challenging events in your life. Victim mentality ends when you understand the power of your choices. You may not control many of the circumstances in your life, but you can choose your attitude, responses, and mindfulness in response to these circumstances.

  1. Triggers. Choose something from the energy draining side of your list, your stress triggers, to begin to create a more mindful life. Choose something simple. Focus your attention on this trigger.
  2. Stress management. When you know you will be in this situation, make a conscious effort to practice stress-reducing practices such as taking deep breaths, doing a type of meditation you like, or repeating a positive affirmation such as “I am calm,” or “I am relaxed.” Choose a practice you enjoy doing.
  3. Follow your joy. Take a look at the positive side of your list, too. Choose one or two things that nourish you and bring you joy. Commit to doing those things more often. Is it playing a sport with friends, returning to a hobby or visiting a place you have always enjoyed?
E=ENERGY

Energy From This Experience

Developing your awareness and living more mindfully creates new Energy (E) power and freedom in your life. When you begin practicing awareness and listening to your life, you become more mindful of what you are eating, who you are living with, and where you go to work each day. You will begin to notice an energy swelling within you as you become more aware.

If you choose to stay in a challenging job or relationship, you can choose to change your attitude. You can make new and different choices because you now know that the situations in life are your choice, and you are the hero of your life, not the victim. You will radiate confidence and a new sense of your own power.

The more you become aware of this life-giving energy, you can begin to plant and nourish mindfulness in your life. Your energy fuels your passion and as a result, you experience the joy of Mindful Living.

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