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Early Warning Signs Of Stress And What You Can Do About It

Early Warning Signs Of Stress And What You Can Do About It

By time you throw a fit due to stress, it’s too late.

You might have offended someone close to you or let your guard down during a stressful rage.

Either way, if only you knew what the early warning signs of stress were, you’d be able to do something about it.

Leo Babauta covers this topic in his latest blog post, which can help you prevent sudden bursts of anger.

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Subtle habits such as clenching your jaw or tightening your shoulders are actually signs that you need to take a breather. No one likes to be told to take it down a notch; therefore, it would be extremely beneficial if you catch your stressful ways as early as possible.

How is stress affecting your life? Do you think Babauta’s tips can help keep your emotions and stressful thoughts in check? Let us know what you think.

Being Mindful of Your Stress | Zen Habits

 

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Yesterday I had to drive somewhere, which I don’t do much anymore, and it was a fascinating experience.

I kept checking in on my body, and finding myself clenched, as if ready for an attack.

My entire torso would be tensed, my neck and shoulders were scrunched up, my face was tight. For no good reason other than I had to react to a lot of cars around me.

And so, noticing this, I was able to relax in that moment. Straighten up, let my muscles stop clenching themselves, breathe, smile. Instant calm, because I knew there was nothing actually attacking me.

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This is a skill I’ve been getting better at, though I’m far from perfect: becoming aware of when my body is tensed up. It’s a cue, something that indicates what’s going on in my mind, and a way for me to look into what I’m stressing out about and decide whether I really need to be in fight-or-flight mode.

Some of the cues I’ve learned about myself: a clenched jaw (happens a lot), face is scrunched up (eyebrows like I’m mad, mouth is frowning, cheeks tensed), neck and shoulders tensed, sometimes entire torso tensed, legs might be stiff like I’m bracing myself, hands might be clenched sometimes.

And so, during the day (when I remember, which isn’t always), I will check in on these cues. And very often I’ll see them tensed up.

This tells me something’s going on, so I check in with my mind: what are you stressing about? And often it’s something like other cars or people getting in my way, or I’m getting competitive in laser tag or go carts (my daughter’s birthday celebration yesterday), or someone is frustrating me, or someone on the Internet is being less than enlightened (I know, that’s pretty rare).

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So when I see that going on, I can see that I have an ideal, an expectation, that other people or life in general aren’t living up to. And I realize that’s a completely made-up ideal that I don’t need to hold on to, and I can just accept this moment. And when I do, nothing is so bad. (Read a short guide to dealing with stress.)

Or sometimes I just relax my body, unscrunch my face, unclench my jaw, breathe and smile, and that’s all I need to get the world in order again.

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Last Updated on March 13, 2019

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

1. Work on the small tasks.

When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

2. Take a break from your work desk.

Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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3. Upgrade yourself

Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

4. Talk to a friend.

Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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6. Paint a vision to work towards.

If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

7. Read a book (or blog).

The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

8. Have a quick nap.

If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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9. Remember why you are doing this.

Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

10. Find some competition.

Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

11. Go exercise.

Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

12. Take a good break.

Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

More Resources About Getting out of a Rut

Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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