It's easy to let stress get out of control, isn't it? Our culture rewards busyness, having too much on your plate, and constant presence - on or offline.
In the last few months alone, several friends have confessed to exhaustion. Early warning signs appeared, but were brushed aside in order to do more. The questioning inner voice was hushed up in order to keep going.
Does that sound familiar?
This can happen to almost anyone because it's challenging to say no to all the external demands. And your own inner pusher may want you to stay the course no matter what.
But once you reach the level of fatigue, you often need supreme self-care and a considerable chunk of downtime in order to recover. It could take months. And, if stress has tipped you over into a serious health condition, it could take years.
So why not aim for a balanced life, right now?
These 7 stress tips are not magic. You must practice them intentionally and regularly if you would like to see results. Most of them take just a few moments though. And working with your favorites can put you back on the path to more joy and ease. Check them out and see which stress tips would fit well with your disposition and lifestyle.
Stress Tip # 1: Know Your Early Warning Signs
Get to know your early warning signs of stress. For example, irritation, frustration, heart pounding, palms sweating, muscles tightening, etc. Make your personal list. Then practice catching stress before it catches you.
When stress starts to mount, how does it feel to you? What happens in your body? What emotions tend to arise? What are the small signs that occur before stress starts to boil over? Observe yourself in relation to stress and make your own personal list of early warning signs. Knowing your early warning signs will empower you to turn stress around before it overwhelms you and causes serious distress.
Stress Tip #2: Visualize a Restful Place
Take a few slow, deep abdominal breaths. Then imagine your favorite restful place like a warm beach, expansive mountain top, or flower filled field. See, hear, smell, and feel all that surrounds you. Drink in the feeling of peace.
When you use visualization to ease stress, start by closing your eyes and letting your stresses float away as you take a few deep abdominal breaths. Then, as you imagine a peaceful place, make the experience as vivid as possible. Bring all your senses alive. Feel the warmth of the sun on your skin, hear the birds chirping, or smell the fragrance wafting from a field of lavender. Give yourself the time you need for your stress to dissolve. Then gently return to the present moment.
Stress Tip #3: Practice Good Posture
Good posture frees your breathing, enhances circulation, increases oxygen in the blood, and reduces muscles tension, which all adds up to less stress. Practice straightening your spine, but in a relaxed way that allows for its natural curve.
Slumping will magnify stress because it restricts your breathing and has other adverse impacts on your body. Be especially cautious when you’re working or playing in front of a screen, especially laptops and smartphones. You may move into shallow breathing or even holding your breath in front of any screen. This is called “screen apnea.” If you notice you’re slumping, straighten up in a relaxed way and take a deep breath.
Stress Tip #4: Reduce Caffeine
Caffeine can amplify stress by increasing the levels of cortisol - the “stress hormone” - in your body. Caffeine is found in coffee, black tea, soft drinks, energy drinks, and to a lesser degree in chocolate and green tea. Decrease caffeine gradually to avoid side effects.
While caffeine gives you a boost on the short run, when its effects wear off you may feel fatigued or depressed and the need for another boost. But it’s good to be cautious about too much caffeine because constant elevation of the stress response may lead to health effects like weight gain, moodiness, heart disease, and diabetes. I know it's not easy to reduce or give up caffeine. Go slowly and be kind to yourself!
Stress Tip #5: Start Early
Running late can make you feel frazzled and frayed. Instead, lay out your clothes, gather your papers, and pack your bag or briefcase the night before an appointment. Plan to leave earlier than usual, and set a gentle alarm to prompt yourself.
Running late for appointments can become a habit that multiplies your stress. It can get even worse if you make the person you’re meeting wait or lose out on a job because you were late for the interview. Look at your calendar at the start of each week and build in extra time to prepare for and travel to whatever appoints you have. Give yourself twice as much time as usual, and you’ll enjoy arriving with far less stress and much greater ease.
Stress Tip #6: Let Go of Too Much!
Are you doing too much? Naturally, you’ll feel stressed if you are. Make a list of 3 activities, commitments, or engagements that you would really like to let go of. Then take them out one at a time.
Why do we do too much? Often, the tendency stems from deep-seated patterns from childhood. It could be due to insecurity, the need for affirmation, or a desire to please or impress. Our entire identity may resolutely rest on how much we accomplish. Thus, it may take time to unravel these patterns and the habit of doing too much. Give yourself the time you need to look deeply and make a real change.
Remember you are worthy! You don’t have to prove yourself by doing too much. [Click to Tweet]
Stress Tip #7: Hug Someone You Love
Hugging someone you love and trust can reduce stress and anxiety, lower blood pressure, and improve your memory. But hugging a lesser known acquaintance or a stranger can induce stress. Hug someone you love and trust today!
Hugging someone you trust feels comforting, doesn’t it? That’s because the gentle touch of a hug can stimulate nerve endings, which send stress-reducing messages to the brain that slow down the release of cortisol - the “stress hormone.” Trust is essential, however, because hugging someone you don’t know well can elevate stress.
So if you’re feeling stressed, cuddle up with someone you love!
What do you think? Is there a simple stress tip on this list that you could commit to today? Leaning forward toward the computer is one of my worst habits. I'll definitely work on that one!
Thank you. for your presence! If you liked this article, I’d love for you to share it on your favorite social media network. Thank you! With love, Sandra