By Justin Wilson – Communication Coordinator, and Janet Stewart – Manager at Eastside Family Centre (EFC), Wood’s Homes.
Well, the Fall colours are here. It’s the time of year when the roads get a little more crowded, the weather becomes a bit more unpredictable (‘snowtember’ anyone?), and the stresses of balancing our work, school, family and social lives can leave us feeling spread a little thin. Juggling these challenges can be tricky for anyone, though for Wood’s staff and those we serve it can be a bit more complicated.
We at Wood’s pride ourselves on not only the opportunities we’re able to offer youth and families, but also the educational and professional experience we’re able to provide staff, practicum students and volunteers. As school begins for our clients, so too does university for many young professionals developing as counsellors or youth workers, as well as a number of Wood’s clinicians lecturing in post-secondary institutions in Calgary and abroad. With clients, staff and management all searching for ways to navigate this annual shift, tensions can run pretty high. With this in mind, we’ve combed the Internet and compiled a list of tips to help keep stress in check, heads held high and program-wide vacation requests to a minimum.
1) GET ORGANIZED
A certain amount of stress can arise from not being able to find what you need. That’s why it pays to organize your workspace, your schedule, your PC — even your phone. The more order you have, the less time and energy you’ll waste trying to find the right app or locating those notes you took on loose-leaf because you forgot to bring the right copybook.
2) TALK IT OUT
Bottled-up emotions increase frustration and stress. Share your feelings. Perhaps a friend, family member, teacher, clergy person, or counselor can help you see your problem in a different light. Talking with someone else can help clear your mind of confusion so that you can focus on problem solving. Also consider writing down your thoughts and feelings. Putting problems on paper can assist you in clarifying the situation and developing a new perspective.
3) SUPPORT NETWORKS
You cannot thrive without great relationships and those relationships cannot thrive without time and attention. Your nearest and dearest are in the frontline in the war with busyness. If you want to be happier you should shift your attention to the special people in your life, many of whom are central to your existence. We have limited time and attention so we have to decide how and where to place it. We should focus unremittingly on deepening, strengthening and nurturing our most important relationships.
4) DO ONE THING AT A TIME
We live in a society that promotes multitasking as the solution to overwork and pressure. Do two things and once and take half as long? Well you only need to watch someone sending a text while walking down Stephen Ave. to see the flaw in this approach. Current thinking on multitasking is that while it may work well for rote tasks that require little brainpower (like listening to music while riding the subway), it fails when trying to accomplish two dissimilar tasks which each require some level of attention. So, the tip here is to try finishing one distinct task and then move on to the next.
5) STEP UP SELF CARE
Make special time to take care of yourself during the early fall – time for rest and relaxation. Program this time into your daily schedule and treat it as sacred, “me time.” From: http://friskylemon.com
6) GET YOUR ZZZs
When you get a good night’s rest, you are able to handle the day’s stress more easily. You’re more patient and less easily agitated. Your body sleeps better when it follows a schedule, so try to wake up at the same time everyday (even on weekends).
7) IDENTIFY KEY AREAS OF STRESS
Stress is typically caused by either internal or external factors. Internal factors include things like our own beliefs, fears or feelings of powerlessness while external factors include things like major life changes, unexpected events, uncomfortable social situations, work related issues or even shifts in the environment. Often though, stress is the result of a combination of both internal and external factors. One way to identify what’s really causing your stress is to write down exactly when you feel particularly stressed, what was happening at that time, how it made you feel and how you reacted. Make sure to consider both internal and external factors as your coping strategies will vary depending on the source.
8) MAKE TIME FOR STRESS FREE ACTIVITIES
When you’ve got a lot happening, it can be hard to make time for relaxation. But there is tons of evidence like this and this and this that show participating in relaxing activities improve our health, and keep our brains happy. So carve out some time to relax – schedule it in your calendar if you need to.
9) EAT STRESS FREE
As levels of the hormone cortisol rise in response to stress, your body releases mood stabilizers such as serotonin. Yet chronic stress can deplete serotonin, creating cravings, says Dr. Joey Shulman, a Toronto diet expert and author of Healthy Sin Foods (Viking, 2009). “Keeping your blood sugar on track is key to reducing stress,” says Shulman. Good choices include egg whites, chicken, turkey, cold-water fish, fruit, brown rice and quinoa.
10) EXERCISE REGULARLY
A healthy diet should be paired with regular exercise, which has been shown to increase energy levels, improve concentration, improve relaxation and help students get a better night’s sleep. Moreover, regular exercise also has a positive effect on our susceptibility to stress, as it enhances confidence and self-esteem.
Of course, sometimes, we or those we care about might need some added support when managing the stress or anxiety that comes with sudden shifts in routine, environment or peer group — all of which are quite common as summer transitions into fall.
Wood’s Homes’ Eastside Family Centre has provided immediate walk-in, no fee family, individual and couples therapy 6 days a week for more than a quarter century, this year celebrating its 25th anniversary providing support when families need it most. If you feel that you or someone close to you is feeling weighed down, click here or contact EFC directly at 403-299-9696.
Ask for help. Don’t be afraid to reach out to your friends, family and community – let’s work together!
Wood’s Homes is a nationally accredited mental health centre – proudly helping communities for over 100 years. Learn more at woodshomes.ca.