A common misconception about stress is that we cannot escape it as long as the stressor remains.
In a sense, this is true. If watching the news raises your blood pressure, for example, you can turn off the television. If joining the PTA social committee sounds stressful or you know you don’t have the time, you don’t have to join.
But what about those life stressors that aren’t so easy to avoid? What can we do about those?
We all know there are no quick fixes, but intentional action will lead to change in how you feel. Try these strategies. Remember to be patient and consistent!
1. Spend 10 minutes each day doing something you enjoy.
I often hear, “But I don’t have time for me.” You may not have an hour right now, but everyone has 10 minutes. The intentional focus on yourself may feel odd or even selfish at first; keep going. The reset of attitude and energy will reap rewards for the rest of your day. You are building a muscle that takes a lot of time to develop. (You can work up to more time eventually, but that’s a topic for another day.)
2. Move your body.
I know some people are immediately turned off by this one, but note this is not exercise with the intention of changing your appearance or the numbers on a scale. Move your body to change the way you feel. Stretching, walking, dancing, jumping jacks – the activity does not matter. The idea is to signal to your mind the stress is over.
3. Grounding techniques for overwhelm:
- Step outside. Mindfully notice what you hear and see. It may be helpful to say what you notice out loud.
- If weather allows, stand barefoot on the ground. Notice every sensation on every inch of your feet.
- Hold an ice cube in your hand or in your mouth. Notice the sensations as it melts.
- Press your palms together. Apply as much pressure as you can for 10 seconds. Notice the tension in your palms and fingertips. Then release. Notice how they feel now.
- 5-4-3-2-1. Observe and name 5 things you can see, 4 things you can hear, 3 things you can touch, 2 things you can smell, 1 thing you can taste.
For more information on handling stress, I highly recommend chapter 1, “Complete the Cycle,” of Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle.