By Jen Gendron: Health & Wellness Coach
Stress is something we all battle with in our lives and for some of us, it can be a challenge to keep it under control. In today’s busy world, trying to juggle the many demands we place upon ourselves can be quite overwhelming at times. Stress affects us in so many ways, we often don’t even realize it. Being under the pressure of constant stress can cause us to lack focus and experience “brain fog” which can make it increasingly harder to get our work done and complete basic tasks. Stress can affect us physically, depleting our immune system leading to more illnesses like colds and flus and, it can lead to more long- term health issues from migraines to back and neck problems to heart issues and more.
It wasn’t until about two years ago that I came to the realization that stress was having a huge impact on my life and, at that time, I began to really spend a lot of time researching and studying how I could make the changes I needed to overcome the negative effects it was causing in my life. Throughout this process, I realized how much it also impacts my clients and the people that I interact with every day which led me to complete my Stress Management Certification several months ago so that I would be better able to assist my clients to overcome the stress in their lives.
Last week, I had the opportunity to present a lunch in learn at an office in uptown Saint John that covered ways that we can start to make small changes in our lives to combat the many effects of stress. As I arrived uptown a few minutes behind schedule and unable to find a parking place I started to feel the familiar signs of stress begin to creep in – my heart started to race, my palms gripped the wheel tightly and I felt the tension building in my body. This became especially apparent when I realized in order to get to my presentation on time, I was going to be forced to parallel park my jeep (a standard) on Chipman Hill – a skill I have avoided having to practice for the last decade or more! In the past, the stress from this situation would have been debilitating for me and would have caused total panic, but this time, I heard a little voice inside my head say “You got this girl! Don’t sweat the small stuff – just give it your best shot! What is the worst that can happen?” So I took a deep breath and gave it a whirl! Although it took the better part of 5 minutes and a lot of forward and back, I managed to squeeze my car in between the two others in the only available space and headed off to the presentation feeling triumphant! Instead of arriving feeling stressed and flustered, I arrived with a story of how we can move past the stressors in our life if we have the right mindset.
This may seem like a silly thing to get excited about but for me, it felt like a huge accomplishment! It was reinforcement that the techniques I have been learning and practicing over the last few months are working and I am better able to handle stressors in my life that would normally leave me feeling uptight and anxious.
While we all know just how important it is to take care of our physical health, looking after our mental wellness in ways that include keeping our stress levels under control, is just as important and should be something we practice daily. What are some things that you do to help manage your stress levels and keep yourself feeling calm and relaxed? Next week, I will share some of my favorite ways to care for yourself and keep the stress at bay. For now, don’t sweat the small stuff – park on the hill, go for the challenge and know that you got this!