Stressed woman

A five-step plan for reducing your stress.

As a person with autoimmune diseases I have had to take several steps back and work on managing my stress level. I was always on the go, saying yes to everything and everyone, it was just hard for me to say NO. I was always wanting to help others in whatever way I could. There were many times I was on stress overload with way too much on my plate. Even though I would eventually get everything done and make everyone happy, the end results were always more painful then feeling accomplished.

This high level of stress was one of the contributors of triggering my autoimmune diseases which brought me down to the point of being bed ridden.  That is when I finally made the decision to rethink my life completely. I can tell you from first hand experience it’s not easy, but one you need to train yourself and your mind to do.

Step #1: My first step was practicing to say NO. You got it N O, no. As much as I would love to be there for everyone, I just can’t. My main focus was my health and my family. I knew without having a healthy body I would not be able to help anyone at all. Whenever the phone rang I would politely say, “no I am sorry, I will not be able to help you”. No excuses, no reasons, just no. I actually don’t think it’s anyones business why I can not help. Just NO. I would pick and choose the most important events or situations to say yes too, but not all of them. There is always someone else out there that can replace you.  Most people call you because they know they can count on you, but when you say no they will find someone else.

Step #2: Stop getting so worked up over the smallest things in life. There are some issues that people get so worked up over and yet there is nothing you can do about it. So let it go.  If someone spills milk on the floor why get mad, it already happened, what can you do about it. Clean it up and move on. It’s not going to un-spill by getting upset and stressed out over it. Let it go.

Step #3:  Reduce your work load. Whether at work or home, reduce your work load by simplifying things.  At work there are many things you can do to make your work a bit more simple.  Find the little things that are of less importance and focus on what is more important that will get the job done. Utilize your time wisely and don’t waste your time on things that really do not matter. As for your house, stop trying to have that perfect home. I was a clean freak, OCD you might say, and highly stressed over not having it perfect and clean all the time. Now, I am not saying to never clean again, just saying to stop being so nick picky. A home is to be lived in, not to be a show home.  I realized this after having children and constantly trying to keep my home perfect. Guess what, with children your home will never be perfect. Even when they grow up it never changes. Either you stay stressed or let some thing go. You don’t have to clean every single day. I hated to see dust bunnies in my home so when my kids were little we would make a game out of who could catch the most bunnies with a swifter broom.  I never saw dust bunnies again.

Step #4: Take time for yourself.  Take a little bit of time each day for yourself. Do not make excuses that you have no time in a day. Make the time, you do it for everything else.  Take at least 15-30 minutes. You can go for a walk, take a bike ride or just sit in a quiet room and breathe deeply.

Meditating and deep breathing should be done daily.  It helps to slow the cognitive process and open us up to our more intuitive thoughts. Practice the navy seal breathing 4 x 4 x 4. Inhale deeply for a count of four, then exhale for four counts, and repeat the cycle for four minutes several times a day. You are surely guaranteed to feel calmer.

Step #5: Get lots of rest. Don’t cheat yourself out of the rightful amount of sleep your body needs. As we age and especially those with autoimmune diseases it is extremely important to get at lease 8-9 hours of good restful sleep. Getting enough quality sleep at the right times can help protect your mental health, physical health, quality of life, and safety. Sleep is involved in healing and repair of your heart and blood vessels. Ongoing sleep deficiency can raise your risk for some chronic health problems. It also can affect how well you think, react, work, learn, and get along with others. Lack of sleep was one of the most important factors in my health. Without the proper amount of sleep my body would start feeling achey and flareups would being from the moment I woke up.

Now go practice these 5 simple steps for reducing your stress. Positive talk and learning to turn your negative thoughts around is also a good way of reducing stress in your life. Stop thinking or talking negatively and keep a positive mind.