For many of us, being paralyzed by stress is such a huge part of our daily lives that it seems like the norm, but it’s a disheartening way to live.
Sometimes you can become so overwhelmed by your long list of responsibilities – especially if you’re already WAY BEHIND – you can end up feeling paralyzed by stress.
Stressors can include:
- Running your business without enough support
- Helping elderly or sick parents
- Having the same daily arguments with your teenagers
- Not getting along with your partner
- Having too much work to do and not enough time to do it
- Not having enough money to pay the bills
- Wasting hours of your day in rush-hour traffic
- Eating fast food every day as there’s no time to prepare anything
- Oh yeah, and then there’s that pesky fear of you or your loved ones getting infected with Covid-19 and possibly dying.
Yep, there’s no doubt that this crazy time is STRESS ON STEROIDS.
It’s hardly surprising and completely understandable if you’re paralyzed by stress. After all, we’re in the middle, or worse, still in the first wave of a global pandemic that’s infecting and killing millions of people across the world. And it doesn’t look like it’s going away any time soon. Even a trip to the beach when people aren’t wearing masks or social distancing isn’t safe – never mind flying somewhere exotic to take a relaxing vacation.
Being paralyzed by stress can make you completely SHUT DOWN because you have ZERO BANDWIDTH to deal with anything in your life. This can lead to your to-do list tasks piling up, creating EVEN MORE STRESS.
How, you may wonder, can I de-stress?
Please keep reading…!
It’s crucial that you learn to manage your stress as, long-term, it can negatively affect your mental, physical, emotional and spiritual health. Stress upsets your emotional equilibrium, prevents you from thinking clearly, functioning normally and enjoying life.
But the good news is you have the ability to CONTROL YOUR REACTION to stress so it doesn’t end up harming you and your life.
If you resonate with any of the above and are feeling stressed as you’re reading this, RIGHT NOW, I’d like you to close your eyes, take a deep inhale while slowly counting to 5, hold your breath for 5 seconds, and exhale for 5 seconds. Repeat this several times until you feel calm(er) and please read on for other ways to remove the paralysis of the stress and its hold over your life.
If You’re Feeling Paralyzed by Stress Here are ways to Identify the Sources
This may not be as easy as it sounds as stressors can be caused by YOUR REACTION to the many demands you have in your life (no judgment here!). For example:
Observe your thoughts, feelings and behaviors such as worrying constantly about your workload, which can make you procrastinate instead of actually getting to work. Or perhaps you blame your chronic stress on other people or outside events, or see it as normal.
Once you become aware of the ROLE YOU PLAY IN CREATING STRESS, and take responsibility, you have the ABILITY TO CHANGE IT. Awareness is the key to changing behaviors.
Practice These Stress Management Techniques
- Do the above breathing technique whenever you feel stressed.
- Start a “stress journal” to identify the regular stressors in your life and the ways you deal with them.
- Meditate for 15 minutes every morning (Start with 5 and increase by 1 minute a day)
- If you have an animal, great! Go and pet it as soon as you can after you get stressed. Feel your pet’s slow rhythmic breaking and emulate it so you’re breathing together. (There’s so much our animals can teach us.)
- At the beginning of each week, prioritize meal planning, grocery shopping and preparing healthy, well-balanced meals. Reduce caffeine and sugar, and avoid alcohol, cigarettes and drugs.
- Exercise regularly – Put on your favorite music and dance, take your dog for a walk (or your neighbor’s), take the stairs instead of the elevator, do your favorite type of exercise.
- Get plenty of sleep. Try to go to sleep at the same time each night.
- If you feel paralyzed by stress, take a break. Go outside and take a walk.
- Learn to say “no” when you feel like you’re taking on too much – both personally and professionally.
- Connect with a friend and do something fun.
- Do something you enjoy every day.
- Avoid or end the relationship with people who stress you out.
- Take control – If the news makes you anxious, turn the TV off – especially DON’T watch the news! If you find grocery shopping stressful, shop online.
- Only include a handful of actions on your to-do list that are “do-able” THAT day. (instead of a week’s or a month’s worth). Prioritize your tasks and try to get the most challenging out of the way first.
- Break projects into small steps and delegate responsibilities.
- If something or someone is bothering you, express your concerns in a respectful way and be willing to compromise if the other person is willing to change.
- Create a balanced life between work, family, social activities, being alone, responsibilities and take some downtime when you can veg and watch a movie or your fave show on Netflix.
- Reframe Your Thinking – Instead of freaking out in rush-hour traffic, listen to your favorite music or book, and appreciate that you have this time to do something you enjoy.
- Ask yourself if you’re going to remember whatever’s stressing you out on your deathbed. (This may sound morbid, but it really puts things into perspective for me!)
- Perfectionism is inherently a stress-inducer. In the words of the great Dr. Abraham Low, “Lower your expectations and your performance will rise.” Just tell yourself your goal is to do an “average” job. This may sound counter-intuitive but it works. When you’re not stressed about doing something perfectly, your “average” ends up being “perfectly” fine.
- Say the Serenity Prayer: “[God], Help me to accept the things I cannot change, the wisdom to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”
- Before you go to sleep each night, write a list of 10 Things You’re Grateful For. Or journal about what you did well that day and congratulate yourself.
I encourage you to start de-stressing your life by doing a couple of things from this list every day. Once you’ve created this habit, start adding other items from the list.
It’s hard to change ingrained behaviors all at once, so don’t get stressed about trying to de-stress! Just take baby steps towards your goal of enjoying your life.
Just remember – no matter what happens, you’re in control of your reaction. Recognizing that you don’t have to get stressed out when life throws crap at you will change your life!
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