Stress can sometimes be apparent when you feel overwhelmed, anxious, irritable, or have difficulty relaxing. But sometimes, it is perceived as “this is just the way it is” without realizing how it makes you feel. We all have had some level of stress during the COVID-19 pandemic. Many of us had stress before COVID, which we have not been able to address because, of course, COVID changes took priority. However, you must take some time to reflect and assess what your top stressors are. Why do you need to make this assessment? Stress can lead to poor sleep, heart disease, weight gain, anxiety, depression, and more. While you may be “dealing with it” now, it takes a toll on your health – physically and mentally.
Visualize where you want to be in 20 years. Just think about it. Perhaps you are planning to own your own business, or you already own a business and hope to start new sites. The 20 years of “dealing with” stressors may then cause you to suffer from complications of a stroke or heart attack, which limit you from performing duties or maintaining stamina. Many of us feel invincible until we are faced with an event that shows us our mortality. Do not let something that you could have prevented be the disruptor of your dreams. It may seem like you do not have time or that your stress is not within your control right now, but you do have time, and it is in your control.
How could I possibly know what your schedule is like or what you can or cannot control, right? Well, if you found yourself unable to get out of bed tomorrow to do your usual activities, what would happen to that issue at work or at home that is stressing you, which you did not have time to address? Someone may temporarily put it on hold, but if it is pressing or you are out for a prolonged time, someone else would take care of it if it is vital. So prioritize your time to include your needs at the top of your list. If you find difficulty doing that, schedule a visit with a professional coach to help you through the process. If you are suffering from having anxiety or depression because of your stress, schedule a visit with a therapist. It is okay not to have all of the answers about how to manage your stress. There are many great, trained people who understand how to support you, but you have to prioritize yourself and be willing to ask for help.
Perhaps time is not your issue. Maybe you are in a situation that you truly cannot control. That does happen; however, what you can control is YOU. Do you need to leave the problem temporarily or even permanently? Assess if there is a way to improve it. If you cannot see a way to improve, ask yourself if it is a situation where there is no way OR if you just do not like the method you would need to take to improve it. That honest assessment is critical. Sometimes you need an objective eye like getting a professional coach or a therapist, so it is okay if you cannot figure it out on your own. Once you have your assessment, you must follow through and act on what you know needs to be done.
You are on a path to do great things! You have been working and planning for some fantastic experiences in the next five, 10, or 20 years. Learning practical stress management skills now can help prevent you from enduring unexpected health consequences when you are ready to bear the fruit of your hard labor. Assess and act! Your enjoyment of your hard work might be at stake.
Crystal A. Maxwell, MD, MBA, FAAFP, is a board-certified family medicine physician with over ten years of experience. She is the Founder & CEO of LIGHT Family Wellness. She is also a wellness coach, author, speaker, wife, and mom. Her website is www.lightfamilywellness.com, and she can be followed on Instagram and Facebook at lightfamilywellness.