Stress affects us all, but it seems that as we get older, the more stressed we become. We leave home, where we are fed, clothed and sheltered for free only to be bombarded with an endless list of burdens. These include financial burdens, difficult work environments and high paced jobs, marriage and the biggest (but most rewarding) stress-becoming a parent. No longer can we run to mom and dad and ask for a loan (ok, maybe occasionally, but this comes with a drenching of guilt). Whether you love or hate your job, you have to stick it out or you may end up living in a tent, surviving on baked beans. Marriage means sharing you entire life with a completely different individual, and even the seemingly blissful couples have their fair share of issues; don’t believe everything you see on Facebook. Finally, once we decide to reproduce, neither yourself nor your partner, is a priority. You will always be tired, your wallet will swiftly become thinner and your relationship may very well take a knock.
In an article found in the Huffington Post, Dr Patricia Adson addresses the causes and symptoms of stress, particularly in women. She specifies the type of women who are most susceptible to burn out due to extreme stress. These women become burnt out as a result of self-neglect on themselves and an over emphasis on caring for others. While kind and caring is a lovely trait, spending more time trying to help others and less time on taking care of themselves can be detrimental to their mental and physical well being. These women are also hesitant at saying ‘no’ out of fear of disapproval and rejection. They are over extended, have demanding schedules and are constantly on the go. They feel the need to live up to expectations-to excel in careers, motherhood and maintaining good social standing. No matter how exhausted they may feel, they need to fulfil these expectations seem more important. I think we can all relate on some level-at some point in our lives.
So how can we find the balance, between exhaustion and doing our best? Here are a few tips.
· Identify the causes of your stress. You can do this by starting a stress diary, whenever you feel stressed, jot it down, figure out why it has caused stress, and write down possible solutions.
· Let go of unhealthy methods of coping with stress, such as smoking, drinking, drugs (legal or illegal), procrastinating, or avoiding potentially stressful situations. While these may temporarily relive stress, they will only cause more damage in the long run.
· Learn to say no. Think of the saying: “You can’t please all of the people all of the time”. You are just as important, and ultimately if your stress ends up overcoming you, you will not be able to help anyone at all.
· De-clutter your life! This goes for negative people, spring cleaning your home and throwing unneeded items away-or give them to charity.
· Become organised. Use a diary and schedule to do lists. Prioritise your tasks from most to least important.
· Talk to someone. You don’t always have to be the shoulder to cry on. Talk to friends, family or even go for counselling.
· Get spiritual. Take a few minutes out of your day for meditation or yoga, which will bring balance to body and mind.
Are you a “YES” girl? If so, tell us how it affects you and if you have techniques to keep yourself from burn out.
Lisa Lee is a write and researcher for Body and Mind..