We all run into stress, and having tools and techniques to dial it down when the volume feels turned up to 11 is invaluable.
But if you really want to get a handle on the stress in your life, you have to take a more encompassing approach. That’s where the Whole-Life Stress Management model comes in.
(For a deeper dive, download this 11-page Stress Busting 101 PDF and the accompanying Stress Busting 101 Quick Plan worksheet.)
The goal of a Whole-Life Stress Management approach is three-fold:
- To create a solid foundation to stand on as you go through your life.
- To minimize the stress you do experience.
- To enhance your ability to cope with the stress that inevitably comes your way.
You can use this model to give some structure to your whole-life stress management efforts. There are four layers to the model.
I – The Core: This consists of the basics that lend themselves to a solid foundation. Think of it as the foundation you pour for a house before that provides a stable ground to build on. Making sure you have a solid core is the first part of a whole life stress management approach.
The Core consists of what I call the Five Fundamentals:
- A healthy diet: This is about giving your body the nutritional building blocks it needs to show up with a full head of steam.
- Staying hydrated: The average human body is somewhere between 50% and 65% water. Studies show that being even a little dehydrated can lead to an increase of the stress hormone cortisol in your system.
- Exercise: We evolved to move. Exercise makes your body stronger and more efficient in a variety of processes, and it has a stress-reducing effect.
- Grounding practice: Without some kind of grounding practice, you can go through life like a Catherine Wheel firework, with wasted energy flying of in all directions.
- Sleep: This doesn’t need much explanation. Lack of sleep equals cranky. You’re less able to cope with stress, and both your body and mind function less efficiently when you don’t get enough sleep.
Some of the categories on this blog that can help you here are:
II – Internal: This layer focuses on what is happening in your internal world. This is probably the area of whole-life stress management that has the most powerful stress busting potential, because it’s the one area in your life you can reliably control (not coincidentally, this is one of the areas I focus on most in this blog). It looks at:
- Your Stories: How you interpret the world.
- Your Self-talk: The conversations all of us continually have, whether constructive or critical.
- Your Focus: Where you’re directing your attention, both internally and externally.
- Your Now-ness: Being in the present moment.
Some of the categories of this blog that might be helpful in this area are:
- Body awareness
- Breathing exercises
- Energy / Chi / Prana
- Fun & play
- Making a difference
- Meditation & mindfulness
- Mind tools
- Movement & exercise
- Positive mental input
III – External: You can’t control everything in the world around you, but you can exert some influence on it. This layer takes a look at the choices and changes you can make, and how you can shape your surroundings (physical, community, etc.) in a way that supports you.
One category that might help you in this area is:
IV – Tools & Techniques: These are the on-the-fly techniques you can apply to reduce stress in the moment, like breathing techniques, short guided meditations, etc.
This entire blog is packed with tools & techniques, so all the categories will have some helpful insights for you. If you want a distillation of all the stress busting quick tips I have posted (things that take ten minutes or less), you can go here:
Best of luck, and enjoy!