Can somebody please dub 2020 the Official Year of Stress Management already? It seems as if many folks added: “managing their emotions” as a full-time job on their resumes this past year.
What can you do when it all seems overwhelming, and you fear you may crack? Before you do anything you could live to regret, try one of these top ten stress management tips, and regain your sense of calm and centeredness.
Think of your breath as a lifeline — it literally is. Figuratively, it is the most readily available and free tool in your stress management arsenal.
Harness the power of your parasympathetic nervous system by practicing 2-to-1 breathing when you need to relax. All you need to do is take a medium-to-deep inhale, then exhale for twice as long. This action signals your body that it has survived all threats for now, and it’s time to rest.
Stress often results when you get caught up in spiraling thoughts of how much you have to do and how overwhelmed you are by it all. Remember, you are one person. Nobody expects you to move Mt. Everest with a coffee spoon, and if they do, well, you’re better off without that toxicity in your life, anyway.
You can only handle one thing at a time, so focus on the present moment. One way to free yourself from a downward spiral into future fear is to stop and list five things that you can see. Then, move on to four things you can touch, three you can hear, two you can smell and one you can taste.
Stress also occurs when you beat your head against a door that doesn’t want to open. When the answer to a pressing problem won’t work its way through your gray matter, taking a step back helps.
Put on your tennis shoes and go for a walk. As you stroll, let your mind wander. Sometimes, the break gives your subconscious time to produce that “a-ha” moment.
Stress can occur when your emotions or sense of right and wrong conflict with what is. Maybe you didn’t make a mistake on that expense report, and even if you did, your supervisor shouldn’t have reprimanded you in front of your colleagues.
However, telling them off could result in a pink slip. It’s never wise to get fired, nor is doing so in a tight job market an effective stress management tip.
Instead of beating your head on your desk in frustration, hit the gym. Pumping iron produces feel-good endorphins to bust stressful feelings — plus, you’ll feel your power as you pump those pounds.
Herbalists have used various teas for centuries to remedy stress, and now science supports their wisdom. One recent study published by the National Institutes of Health showed that passionflower might work as an effective anxiety remedy.
Scientists recruited 36 individuals with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) and gave half a passionflower extract while the rest received medication. While those who took the prescription enjoyed a more rapid effect, those who took the herbal tincture had less impairment on the job.
Why not try passionflower tea as a stress management tip? Other herbs to try include lemon balm, chamomile, lavender and skullcap.
When life drives you crazy, go a little nutty. Why? Nuts are high in naturally occurring magnesium, a vital mineral for mental health.
A 2017 review of 18 studies showed that magnesium reduces anxiety. While you can take a supplement, too much of this mineral will leave you running through the bathroom. Since your body utilizes food-based sources more effectively, why not snack on some almonds and Brazil nuts?
Pets bring so much joy to your life. They also help relieve stress and may prevent associated cardiovascular conditions.
A study by Minnesota’s Stroke Institute found that owning a cat can reduce your stroke risk by a third. It also cuts your risk of death by a heart attack. Meow!
One way to vent when you’re angry with someone but don’t dare tell them is to write a letter you never intend to send. However, typing your ire into a blank email can result in disastrous consequences should your finger hover over the wrong key.
A journal gives you a place to write out your angst. This action helps you process challenging emotions and can help you to reframe negative thoughts. It may also help you work out a solution to your problem. If nothing else, you know whatever you pen there is for your eyes only — just don’t leave your book open on your work desk.
Meditation, like mindfulness, helps clear the mental clutter that can amplify stressful feelings. When too much whirs in your mind like a sea of dervishes, it’s natural to become overwhelmed.
You can find various forms of meditation. Transcendental meditation involves focusing on a specific mantra for a few short minutes each day. Guided meditations help you visualize a goal or work through emotional blockages, like addiction to social media.
Stress drains you because having too much on your plate means putting everyone else’s needs before your own. While it’s well and good to contribute, you can’t pour from an empty pitcher.
Schedule 30 minutes each day to do something you love. Maybe you enjoy losing yourself in a novel and a long bubble bath, or perhaps you like to sit in your garden and sip tea. Make time to replenish your soul with these activities daily so that when you do give of yourself to others, you do so with an open and generous spirit, not an exhausted, begrudging one.
The ten stress management tips above will help you navigate the rest of 2020. Here’s to never letting life’s storms rattle your sense of inner calm.