Many people in today’s society are living with unhealthy levels of stress. The follow activities are things that will help to alleviate and manage those stress levels. Don’t try them all at once, rather try something new each time you notice your stress levels elevating to the red zone.
1) Block time out to relax – Choose a time and an activity that you enjoy, perhaps yoga, sitting in a garden, or even listening to calming music. Book it into your diary in advance and then treat it like an appointment that must be kept. It takes no more than two minutes to schedule something into your diary, but once there it’s a date to look forward to and hopefully will become more regular.
2) Make relaxing a priority – Many people choose to be constantly active and engaged and don’t see the need for down time or relaxing. When you put yourself first and make time to relax you will find your productivity increases dramatically and your enjoyment of life escalates considerably. Here are two simple relaxation exercises to try:
- Stare at a blank spot on the wall and begin to simply focus on the things you can see in your peripheral vision, and then shift your focus to the things you can hear and finally focus only on the feelings and sensations within your body. This should take just a minute or two and clear your mind and heighten your senses.
- Gently bring your focus to your breath. On each inhaling breath say ‘peace’ on each exhale say ‘release’ and allow your body to relax with the exhale. Again, a minute or two of this concentrated breathing will bring a certain feeling of calm back into your body and your mind.
3) Get organised – Declutter and start sorting out the things that are stressing you. Even if the clutter isn’t the main concern, you’ll feel wonderful and much more in control for being more organised. Write a long list of all the things you could do if you were to be on top of everything. Then systematically start at that list. Even if it’s only crossing off one thing a week, you now have a process to achieve!
4) Exercise – We all know the benefits of exercise in both reducing our stress levels and increasing our resilience and fitness! If fitting in an hour a day is too much, try increasing your incidental exercise. For example; after you shower stretch while you dry yourself; park at the far end of the car park so you have further to walk; while boiling the kettle try 20 squats. Try to think of exercise as any movement, rather than getting a sweet up at the gym. Simply clenching and releasing your muscles from your head to your toes at your desk every hour will help get your body moving and make you feel a little better.
5) Refocus on your goals – It’s easy to get lost in the daily grind of life. Stress can become a little like a fog clouding our thoughts and getting in the way of us reaching our potential. Spend a little time brainstorming what your goals are in all the areas of your life; Relationships, finances, career, lifestyle, material possessions, health, and personal growth.
6) Express gratitude – Think through all the things in your life you are grateful for or write them down in a journal. This brings another perspective to your challenge. When you recognise how truly lucky we are to have fresh water, electricity and food in the fridge the weight of your problem often lifts.
7) Create eject buttons – Have a list of 4 or 5 things that you can do when your stress levels go into the red zone. These must be simple and quick to do. For example: take 5 full breaths; phone a close friend; take a quick walk through a park or; throw a ball for the dog. The eject buttons should shift your focus immediately and allow you to get your perspective back.
8) Brainstorm solutions – When your challenge or stress becomes all consuming, sometimes we need to give in and simply give it all our attention and focus. Write the problem or stress as a question that you need to solve in the centre of a blank page, then start brainstorming all the options you have. Think outside the box, chances are the things you think are ludicrous may lead you in the right direction to a solution, so don’t sensor the options write everything down. If you get stuck, try Google, it knows everything, failing Google, phone a friend.
We all manage our stress differently, however only you can create the strategies that will work for you long term. Think of these techniques as resources to keep with you for a lifetime. Stress will always come and go but as you practice the above strategies you’ll notice your resilience increases and you can manage more easily without becoming overwhelmed.