How do you handle stress?

Did you know that April is stress awareness month? This year, the theme for Stress Awareness Month is Little By Little, A Little Becomes A Lot with the focus on the idea that consistent small actions can make big impacts.

Over the years I have embraced this theory. During the tough days of my past burnout it was suggested to me that every night before I went to sleep, I should write down in a diary or a journal a small list of things to do the next day, giving myself a reason to get up in the morning. I have to say this one bit of advice really helped me to gain focus again and as the days passed, I found myself achieving more and more.

The NHS website describes stress as the body's reaction to feeling threatened or under pressure; it goes on further to explain that it is at these times when the body releases a hormone called adrenaline (often called the "fight or flight" hormone), which usually gives us a boost or motivates us to act quickly.

The real problems start to occur when the stress gets too much and starts to feel out of control and it is at this point when we need to begin taking small steps to reduce the stress and reduce the adrenaline rush. As we do so the feel-good hormones that our body produces can start to increase and therefore help us to feel less stressed and more positive.

Taking little (or baby steps) towards any goal is the way forward but when feeling stressed it is one of the most important things you can do. My lovely hubby has taught me that when faced with a situation that could (and sometimes does before he reminds me) bring with it high stress levels, to stop the worrying about what might be and take the situation one day and one step at a time as it unfolds. This has, I have to say, meant that situations in my life that if I had let them would have resulted in high stress have instead been dealt with calmly and indeed long term never warranted the stress I may in the past afforded them.

The same theory on reaching any goal is worth remembering, take a moment to reflect on the marathon runner who never jumped out of bed on the first day and ran the 26 miles; they first decided to take on the race, then they started the training little by little, day by day. They looked at diet, fitness, strength and mindset, one by one they worked through the personal goals to get to the ultimate goal of tackling the big day. By taking the little-by-little theory, the little became a lot as they crossed that finish line. The joy and relief they feel can be seen on their face when they get handed that medal and trust me if you use this theory when faced with a stressful situation the relief and joy you will feel as you come through the other side will be worth the day-by-day approach.

So, as we go through the stress awareness month of April think about the message that is this year’s theme. Hold on to it when facing stressful times, remember the old saying ‘Rome wasn’t built in a day’ but little-by-little a little became a lot as the city became the landmark it is today.