Everyone gets worried from time to time. It is a part of our human nature to want to protect and prevent harm to ourselves. Yet, we unintentionally go overboard at times, leading to unhealthy worrying that takes a toll on our bodies.
Are you responsible for a work deadline coming up, but you're unsure if the quality of your work is “good enough” to submit? Or maybe you have an event coming up where you will need to talk in front of a large crowd, and you cannot get your mind away from the idea that you will tank. There are plenty of scenarios that can cause us to stress out. But ongoing stress becomes chronic stress and chronic stress is bad news. It shuts down your immune system, so you are susceptible to illness, and it robs you of a good night’s sleep.
If the pandemic has taught us anything, it is that we only have control over ourselves, our thoughts, and our behavior. If you wish to have control over your level of stress, you need to develop and use new stress relief skills. Learn the techniques to direct your mind and body away from stress and into a restful state. Keep in mind, stress is automatic; it comes with the human operating system. However, rest and relaxation need to be learned and practiced — they do not come naturally. Here are a few tips to get you started on the right track when it co
mes to relieving stress.
1. Bring Yourself Back To The Moment
Slow, deep, controlled breathing is a simple yet powerful way to stop the stress response in its tracks and help you regain your focus an
d energy. When we get stressed, we tend to lose focus on our breathing and end up with shallower, shorter breaths because our flight or fight response is activated. Breathing is a wonderful way to relieve stress anytime and anywhere. You can even repeat a calming phrase in your mind as you breathe, such as "inhale peace" and "exhale stress".
The next time you feel immersed in thoughts of worry, try this:
● Close your eyes
● Calmly breathe in through your nose for a total of 6 seconds
● Exhale slowly for 6 seconds
● Resume the process for 5-10 minutes.
Alternatively, you can try the 5-4-3-2-1 Technique, where you bring yourself back into the present moment by connecting to your senses (taste, smell, hearing, touch, and site).
2. What Can You Control?
Look at the situation you are worrying about from a zoomed-out perspective. Ask yourself what is truly in your control in this situation. Are you able to develop a plan of action to alleviate some worries?
For example, if you’re worried about a work presentation coming up, you can ask yourself how you can be best prepared. Can you review and present your work to a coworker, boss, friend, or partner? Find out what areas are in your control in the impending situation you are facing and allow your worry to calm.
3. Hold Compassion For Yourself
Try not to be so hard on yourself. You are allowed to have peace and calmness in your life. You can practice compassion for yourself in a multitude of ways, for example:
● Giving yourself a break
● Practicing forgiveness
● Eating healthy foods
● Writing a letter or journal to yourself
● Treating yourself as you would a small child - how would you talk to them, what do they need?
These tips are shared to help you live a healthier, less worrisome lifestyle. However, there are many other ways to help reduce stress, and it is not a one size fits all scenario. Finding the best stress relief strategies may take some experimenting and certain strategies may take some practice. It’s important to find what works best for you!