Life has been so hectic lately that it wasn’t until I was looking at my diary planning out the next week that I suddenly realised that Christmas has snuck up on me without my realising it. Only 9 days to go and my stress level suddenly increased – why? – I have presents still to buy, a dinner party to plan and oh no, my christmas cards still have to be sent.

Stress a simple word that can be good or bad. A little stress is good for you – it can give you the adrenaline rush to shine, to find the energy to complete that task or to stimulate the creative juices. Its when the stress builds and increases and starts to have a detrimental effect on your responses that it becomes bad for you. YOu need to recognise the signs and know when in to put into place some methods to reduce the stress to the good levels.

When you find yourself frequently tired, things starting to get on top of you, solutions are not coming, that overwhelming feeling then it is likely that your stress levels are increasing. You need to stop and give yourself a chance to take a quick health check. Without this check increased stress levels can have physical outcomes – high blood pressure, depression, sleep problems, eating disorders to name a few.

Stress is individual – different people have different stress levels. What is a high level in one person is good for another. You need to monitor your own reactions to find when your stress level tips over to the danger impact, rather than the beneficial impact.

Look for some of these signs of stress:

inability to concentrate
emotional over reaction to incidents
seeing only the negative
agitation, inablitly to relax
procrastinating or neglecting responsibilities

Some questions to ask yourself to determine if you are in control of the the stress or if it is controlling you.

When I feel agitated, do I know how to quickly calm and soothe myself?
Can I easily let go of my anger?
Can I turn to others at work to help me calm down and feel better?
When I come home at night, do I walk in the door feeling alert and relaxed?
Am I seldom distracted or moody?
Am I able to recognize upsets that others seem to be experiencing?
When my energy is low, do I know how to boost it?
Source: The Language of Emotional Intelligence by Jeanne Segal, Ph.D.

Once you have identified your stress levels and whether you are in control you need to learn to manage your stress. The key to this is being in control. Take control of your life, of your work, of your decisions. Learn to know what you can change and change it and live with what can’t be changed. Take time to recharge your batteries – make some me time to relax. Interact with others, strengthen your
support network – a problem shared is a problem solved. Big things that were overwhelming you, suddenly seem more manageable when you can talk them over with someone.

Look at positive thinking for positive action. Your attitude influences your thinking. Give your self the opportunity to take charge and plan for a positve action.

So if you are feeling overwhelmed by work, life or Christmas, stop, think, take some positive action to bring your life back on balance and then enjoy. Look out for Trischel’s Managing Stress Self Development breakfast in 2010 for some proactive suggestions on managing your stress.

Me – I have taken a break, looked at what has to be done – made a list and now feel a bit more in control. I still think christmas has come too fast but now I feel more in control and am looking forward to enjoying the holiday season.

Trish @ Trischel

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