10 Ways to Recognize and Regulate Stress in Your Life

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You may see me write a lot about life being challenging and full of stressors.  Work, relationships, financial burdens, and other responsibilities may all be stressors in life.  However, there is no escaping them.  In order to manage stress that you may be encountering, it may be helpful to first recognize the issue.

How Much Does a Cup of Water Weigh?

Many years back, I was in a workshop and the speaker asked the audience how much a cup of water weighs.  It was 7:30 in the morning so few hands were up.  However, one person responded, “I don’t know, how much water is in the glass?”  Another replied, “1/2 pound?”  The speaker’s answer was, “It depends how long you hold onto the glass for.”  For instance, if you hold onto a glass of water for 30 seconds, it doesn’t weigh very much.  If you hold onto it for 30 minutes, it gets significantly heavier.  Should you carry a glass of water for 30 days, it will most likely, at some point, drop.  The glass will shatter, there will be a big mess, and you will need to spend some time cleaning it up.  The presenter continued, “This is the same as stress.  The longer you hold onto it, the heavier it becomes.”  If you don’t recognize, regulate, and remove stress, it will only continue to weigh on you.  This will take a toll on your mental health and subsequently your relationship with yourself and others.

Manage Your Balloon

When I meet with clients, I often tell them that all humans carry around a balloon with them.  Each person’s balloon is a different size.  The size of the balloon depends on the energy level of the person.  The larger the balloon, the more stress a person is able to handle.  You can refer back to the following blogs in order to learn ways to increase your energy level so you can handle more stressors:

4 Ways to Maximize Energy

4 Ways to Maximize Energy: Part 2

4 Ways to Maximize Energy: Part 3

4 Ways to Maximize Energy: Part 4

Throughout the day, you may come across things that cause you stress.  Each of these things add some air to your balloon.  The larger the stressor, the more air enters your balloon.  Eventually, if you don’t let air out, your balloon will pop.  Again, like the glass of water analogy, this will take a toll on your mental health and subsequently your relationship with yourself and others.

Recognize Your Stressors

First, recognize what causes you stress.  Create a list of stressors to help you identify what is inflating your balloon and causing your glass of water to get heavier.  Once you identify your stressors and recognize when your balloon is inflating and your glass of water is getting heavier, you will know it may be time to put the glass down or let some air out of your balloon.  Is it a busy and stressful time of year at work?  Did you just get hit with an unforeseeable expense at home and you and your partner have been arguing about finances as a result?  Whatever the stressor is, identify it.

Regulate Your Stressors

Now that you identified what is causing you stress, determine if it is time to put your glass down or let some air out of your balloon.  You don’t need to put your glass down and let air out of your balloon every time you feel stress, but it can be helpful to keep tabs of the weight of the glass and how much air is in your balloon.

Ways to Let Air Out or Put Your Glass Down

  1. Go for a hike (Hike, Connect with Nature, & Break From Anxiety)
  2. Breathe & Meditate
  3. Take a yoga class
  4. Spend time alone or with friends & family
  5. Participate in a hobby
  6. Engage in a mindful activity (Anxiety & the Here & Now)
  7. Exercise
  8. Take a short nap, but make sure not to interfere with your sleep schedule!
  9. Disconnect from technology and spend some time outside (Disconnect from Technology: Wait, Hear Me Out!)
  10. Take time to organize your life.  I will spend more time in an upcoming blog focusing on this topic.

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