I often hear from clients that one of the major sources of stress in their lives comes from financial uncertainty and instability. With this stress, of course, comes a whole host of other problems that impact our emotional and physical well-being.
To make matters worse, the stress that individuals are experiencing around their own finances has become a collective one. We are now living in a time when it seems that leading a stressful life is more often a rule than an exception.
With more and more pressure to participate in a culture that places enormous value on material possessions such as cars, iPhones, laptops, clothing, and so forth, we find ourselves working harder and longer hours to keep up. The extra work hours and days have increased in recent years, which has led to emotional and physical problems including fatigue, heart disease, depression, sleep problems, substance abuse, anxiety, overeating, ulcers, and so on. Stress leads to exhaustion.
In other words, today’s economic system and the values we assign to it, is making us sick.
The question is, how can we ease the stress and begin to disentangle ourselves from a harmful pattern?
The first step is to bring attention to the impact you are experiencing in your own life. How is your sleep? Your relationships? Your physical and emotional health? Check in with your body. Notice where you might be holding tension in your neck, jaw, or stomach.
Some warning signs to pay attention to include a loss of enjoyment in work or family time, physical symptoms, skipping meals, increased irritability or frustration, chronic fatigue, feelings of emptiness or apathy, loss of focus and productivity despite long work hours, feeling trapped, chronic lateness and missed appointments, critical self-talk, frequent illness, forgetfulness, and lack of motivation.
The next step is to find an outlet that relieves your stress and suits your needs and lifestyle. Stress management is unique and personal to every individual, and for that reason, it is important to take an active role in finding activities and strategies that work for you.
I’d like to offer a few ideas that may serve as useful ingredients in a stress relief recipe that works for you:
+Incorporate moments of balance into your life. This might mean spending more time alone, or making new social connections. Perhaps it is engaging in an activity you’re passionate about, or taking a step back.
+Take time to relax. Try adding back activities that you may have decided you do not have time for at one point. Try yoga, sip a cup of tea, get lost in a book.
+Make sure to get enough sleep. You’ve heard this one before, I know! But sleep deprivation leads to a multitude of problems, so it is important to make sure we are getting enough.
+Keep a journal. Write down your thoughts, worries, dreams, and ideas. This will help you clarify your thoughts and intentions.
+Focus on eating a balanced diet. Make sure to stay adequately hydrated and nourished throughout the day in order to avoid dips in energy.
+Move! Preferably outside.
+Take breaks at work. Talk to a colleague. Go for a walk.
+Know when to seek outside support.