Stress is a silent killer. It deprives us of control in our lives, of enjoying the things that we work so hard to achieve, it keeps us from appreciating our loved ones, it harms our physical bodies and in the most desperate situations, it even takes away our ability to slow down and laugh at ourselves. And if we can’t laugh at ourselves or find the joy in our lives, then why live this life? We give in to stress. We give it our power to choose and live a better life, and we settle to merely exist instead of thrive in this wonderful world. But if you want to stop existing and start living, then check out these ten easy ways to take the power away from stress and back into your hands.
1. Relax and Activate Your Senses
Stress is an everyday regular in our lives. We know we will feel it and experience it and while we are feeling stress we cannot feel any other wonderful bodily and mental state. One way to sharply stop stress from taking over all of our senses is to actually make a choice to stop doing anything we’re doing the moment we feel that stress is beginning to take hold. Stop it. Open a bottle of your favorite wine. Turn on the water faucet and prepare a warm bath. Take your glass of wine to the tub, set it close to you and immerse yourself in a warm inviting bed of water. Don’t think about anything, just do it. Stay in the tub for at least half an hour. Let the warm water numb your thoughts and allow it to relax your body. Put on your favorite music and just enjoy hearing the music, tasting the wine, feeling your skin against the warm water, smelling the soap or cool wash. By the time your half an hour is up, you will not remember what was stressing you and you’ll be able to come back to the task or situation that was stressing you out with a cool and collected mind.
2. Get Moving
Another scientifically proven way to stop stress from overwhelming you is to get moving and focus your mind and body on something else. Start exercising. It can be anything you want like walking, jogging, swimming, cycling or aerobics. The point of exercise is to focus all your attention on one task that can start and end. In addition, you probably know all the health benefits associated with exercise. If the benefits of exercise could be converted into one pill that you could take a day, it would be a miracle pill. You’ll look great, feel great, think better, eat better, work faster, and enjoy life. You can start slow like walking 30 minutes a day three times a week and then increase the time and intensity of the work out. Make it fun, take your kids, your spouse, your dog or all of them and make it a family adventure or just use it as your own private “me” time, regardless of how you execute it, I guarantee you that you will feel and look better.
3. Move On
Holding on to something that is causing us pain, grief or stress is not healthy. We are subjecting our selves to induced stress because we don’t want to let go. Many times people experience increased amounts of stress because of depression. We all can become depressed because of a drastic change in our lives that we cannot control. Maybe we lost a loved one, we change jobs or school or a dear friendship comes to an end. Holding on to the old but familiar is way better than dealing with the new reality that life has thrown at us. In holding on to that stressful life experience, we deny reality and can hurt ourselves in more terrible ways. It’s time to move on when the stress caused by depression starts keeping us from living the real life outside of our minds and comfort zone. We need to make a choice at that point and determine a better course of action. One way to do this is to go on a retreat. This does not mean that you are hiding from the stressful life experience but taking a step back to analyze the situation in order to sort things out. During a retreat, you’ll have a chance to relax and in a calm state of mind, you’ll be able to see the stressing life experience from a different angle. Going to a retreat is not giving up or ignoring the stressing situation, on the contrary, you are courageously giving yourself the chance to face the reality and choose to figure out the things that you can still control in your life and let go of those that you cannot change. And as a result, you’ll learn to move on with dignity.
4. Try Something New
When we’re stuck in a mental rut or stress caused by depression or loss of control in our lives, professionals many times recommend finding a hobby and trying something new. A hobby can be anything you think you might enjoy doing. The hobby you pick can engage you in activity or help you reflect on things and happenings in your life. A hobby can also fulfill both needs. I enjoy taking my daily walks around my neighborhood lake. I engage my body in physical activity while admiring the sky, the water and all the wonderful gifts of nature. As a result it helps me to relax, eliminate any sense of depression and feel part of something bigger, the world and nature. Another more reflective hobby that you may enjoy is journaling. You can go to your favorite book store and purchase a lovely journal. Then, allot time to sit down and write down your experiences and feelings. The act of writing helps us organize our thoughts and express them clearly on paper helps us think more clearly. But, if you try any of these simple techniques and still feel overwhelmed, keep in mind that lacking the ability to find joy in new things may be a sign of a more serious state of depression.
5. Seek Professional Help if Necessary
The last recommendation brings us to this point. Sometimes when we are under unhealthy amounts of stress and anxiety, we may start to feel that life is too hard to endure, that our loved ones don’t understand what we are going through and therefore we can’t be around them, and finally, we may engage in self destructive behaviors to numb the pain and stress. When this happens and you still can recognize these dangerous signs, you should seek the help of a support group or a counselor. Even though, you may be reluctant and have doubts and fears about doing this. Please do seek out the help. In a support group, for example, you’ll have a chance to meet and share your experience with other people that are going through the same things. These groups will help you sort out your own inner demons while helping you implement solutions. You’ll also be surrounded by other people, and your own feeling of loneliness will slowly disappear. If you don’t want to start with a support group, you also have the option of visiting a counselor or someone from that field. These professionals are thoroughly trained in giving people the tools that they need to deal with life stressful situations. The point is to seek out someone that can help you go through the stressful situation.
6. Don’t be Alone, Seek Companionship
The previous point then brings us to this one, join a group of people that may have similar experiences and learn from them. I remember that when I was working in the training and development department of a major corporation, one of my job responsibilities was to train large groups of people. The idea of public speaking made me sick to my stomach. I was in a total state of stress, anxiety and fear. This reality was keeping me from enjoying the other aspects of my job. So I decided to take all the public speaking classes that I could. When I did, I discovered that all the people in those classes were just as petrified as me. But we learned techniques and with practice, we actually improved and learned skills to control the fear of public speaking and manage the stress that this may cause. The point here is that when you’re going through a situation that is causing you stress and anxiety, many times you can seek out the advice and companionship of other people who are feeling the same thing. And from this experience, you can gain skills and techniques to conquer the fear, manage the stress and go on with life.
7. Accept That Which You Can’t Change, and Change That Which You Can
Many times when stress is inundating our lives, we need to take a step back and do a thorough analysis of the causes of this stress in order to determine the things that are causing the stress and how to deal with it them to be able to move forward. The first thing you’ll realize when analyzing the source of your stress, anxiety and possible depression is that whatever is causing it, it is making you choose between the old and familiar and the new and unfamiliar. And finally it will make you face your own fears, your own self esteem and make you doubt if you can handle it. As a result, you can be facing three major things, dealing with letting go of the familiar, dealing with an uncontrollable future and your own ability to deal with it. Consequently, you’ll have to deal with a shift in focus since your focus and energy need to be concentrated on the new life situation. You need to realize that this is normal for anyone that goes through anything new or stressing in their lives that they had not anticipated or planned for. Let’s take an example, if you get offered a new job in a new city, you’ll probably go through a lot stress just thinking about it. First, you’ll have to let go of the familiar – your current job, family, friends and home. Second, you’ll have to face a new future that you have not planned for. Thirdly, you’ll think about being able to handle it, putting your self esteem and confidence in doubt. Finally, you’ll have to change the focus of your life and current goals. This would be a lot to digest and take in. But once you realize that there will be changes, you can shift the analysis to the benefits and positives. You cannot change the things that we have discussed, but you can accept them and invest your time and energy into the many good things that can still change – for example, in this imaginary situation, you’ll be able to challenge yourself in a new job and environment, and grow as a person and individual. You’ll also meet new interesting people. You’ll learn new things that will benefit you in the long run and help you adapt in life. Also remember than when faced with a new challenging life situation, you can always ask other people that have gone through the same thing to gain a new perspective and know that if others have overcome similar kinds of challenges so can you. And finally, keep a positive attitude. Mostly everything in life is attitude. Try to keep a positive outlook and believe that things will work out to your advantage.
8. Appreciate Constructive Criticism
Stress can many times make us angry and when we are angry we don’t communicate very effectively. On the contrary, we hurt other people and can be labeled as “mean” or “antisocial” just because we became angry due to stress in our lives. When you’re feeling stressed out your natural reaction is to get angry, there are some techniques that you can quickly start using to deal with the anger and communicate better with your other fellow human beings. First, think before answering back and be specific in your response. If a co-worker doesn’t know how to fix a graph for a presentation, for example, instead of snapping at your co-worker with a “Oh my goodness, I can’t believe you don’t how to do this!,” a better response would be to say something like “We don’t have a lot of time right now, let me quickly fix it and I’ll show you how to do it later on after the meeting.” As you can see, you still are firm and directly communicate what needs to be said, but you do it in a nice constructive way. In this way, you fix the problem and the other person doesn’t even know you were angry. This technique can also work effectively with children and young adults. When talking to them, you can reiterate the facts in a firm and direct way, and also acknowledge that they are angry. Once you acknowledge that they have a right and need to be angry, but that it does not entitle them to lash out at other people, you’ll be teaching and giving them a life skill that will help them deal with anger and stress in a constructive as they get older.
9. Break it down to manageable bits and pieces
One of the first steps toward releasing yourself from stress is to acknowledge to yourself that you are feeling anxious, overwhelmed and depressed. Once you give yourself the right to feel these things, then you can move on. Talking to a friend or loved one about these feelings can greatly help you unload the burden and put it out there. Once the feelings have been talked about, you need an action plan to move on. All this means is that it helps to plan out your next step so that you can gain a sense of control over the issue or stressing situation. For example, if starting a new job in a new city is the stressful situation in your life, then take out a piece of paper and pen and just write down the things that you can do to make this transition go more smoothly – things like asking for enough time to find a new place to live, move and settle, you can always ask your current employer for some extra time to make the move. This is just an example, but the point is that once you break down something into smaller parts then the big stressing thing becomes more manageable and you can do one thing at a time.
10. Laugh out Loud
If everything else fails, just laugh about it. Why waste time crying when you can laugh at something? The therapeutic power of laughing has been proven in scientific tests. We all know that we feel so much better after a good laugh. If you are super stressed, take a step back and laugh at yourself in a humble way. Don’t be mean to yourself or anyone else, but just smile. It has been proven in scientific studies that just making your face smile can actually improve your mood automatically. You can keep a funny looking stress ball by your work desk, go see a funny movie, go to a comedy club or learn to tell jokes, and do it with your friends or family. When you make other people laugh, it’s contagious and you can’t help but to feel lighter and happier.
Tags: Health stress relief