Positive stress is great for some people, wheras negative stress can be debilitating. These stress relief tips identify some of the sources and should help you to create a balance between them.
“The components of anxiety, stress, fear, and anger do not exist independently of you in the world. They simply do not exist in the physical world, even though we talk about them as if they do.”
Wayne Dyer – Author
Having recognised that there’s negative stress in your life, the next thing you need to do is to identify some strategies to help you to begin to reduce it. These stress relief tips should help you.
In the longer term you may need to use the expertise of someone like a coach/stress management expert to help you to overcome some of your life-time habits or to get you away from situations that are causing excess stress. Let’s look now at some things you can start to do immediately to help yourself.
- Identify some time during the day when you can take a short break from your schedule to relax and switch-off. If your days are particularly busy you may need to schedule this in alongside all your other tasks, and honour it in the same way too! This is your time to re-charge your batteries and go back to your tasks with renewed energy – so it is important! (If you’re thinking “that’s impossible, I haven’t got the time” it’s a good indicator that you’d benefit from coaching)
- If long term stress has caused you to feel really wiped out, take out a whole weekend to just ‘chill out’ doing some of the things you really enjoy, taking time with friends and family and not tackling any work, chores or things that are likely to increase rather than reduce your stress.
Perhaps going away somewhere different may be just the thing to give you that bit of respite you need from the daily grind. If necessary, take a week of your leave to get away from it so you can come back refreshed.
- Talk to a trusted friend or perhaps get some coaching. Sometimes when things are held inside you they feel much bigger than they really are, they can appear insurmountable. Talking things through with the right person can help let off some internal pressure and give you more clarity and energy to deal with your situation.
The process of talking through with someone who will listen without judging you, and ask you good questions, can be a liberating experience. (You’ve heard the saying “A problem shared is a problem halved”. So that means only half the stress!) That person may be able to offer some thoughts and insights for you to consider. If you find the right person you’ll feel far less stressed afterwards!
- When you find yourself worrying persistently about something, go outside, and focus on the weather, the scenery, the birds, or even just focus on doing breathing in a relaxed smooth way (see Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction) Connecting back with nature can be very calming.
- Do something creative and fun – that uses a different part of your brain – if you are focusing on a creative activity there will be no head space to worry for a while.
- Learn to let go of negative feelings. If something is nagging at you, find a way to let it go or get it out into the open in a safe environment. If you’re by yourself, say it out loud or write it down and plan to deal with it later, or read it – then symbolically throw away the piece of paper; if you have a friend – talk to them; if you need to, punch a pillow; always acknowledge (without indulging) your feelings and try to look at the cause in a different way.
- Make sure you find time to do something you enjoy, a hobby, some physical activity, whatever. Go to the cinema, listen to music, eat at a restaurant, go for a walk, watch a football match, do some needlework – whatever it is, if possible do something you really enjoy every day.
- Find a ‘token’ object that you like, and let this become your reminder and focus for relaxing. Let’s say you have a heart, a symbol or a little toy on your key- ring, or maybe you keep a small shiny pebble in your pocket or a picture in your wallet/handbag.
Decide what you want it to represent; it may be you on a beach in Majorca; it could be you having great fun, running your own home-business; it may be the new relationship you have. Whatever it is, create a connection between the object and those pleasant thoughts.
Having made the connection in your sub-conscious mind between the object and the pleasant feelings, each time you touch or see the object it will reconnect you with those good feelings. So at times when you’re feeling stressed, take it out and hold it, then close your eyes and vividly imagine that good thing as if it were happening now.
- Take regular exercise – that means at least three times a week, but preferably every day. Walking briskly can be all you may need. It need only be for 20-30 minutes at a time, but you will find it definitely helps in reducing some of the physical stress and tension you feel. If you should feel tension at any time during the day (e.g. in your back, shoulders, neck or jaw) just take a few moments to focus on them, gently stretching and relaxing while breathing smoothly.
- A healthy diet is as important as physical exercise to protect you from harmful stress, so ensure you regularly eat nutritious food, including the most important meal of the day – breakfast. Reduce or eliminate harmful things like sugar, caffeine, nicotine alcohol and drugs. There’s a great temptation for someone who feels stressed to get relief through these things, but this will be only temporary. In fact, they’re likely to make your situation worse, not better! You may find you benefit from taking appropriate supplements.
- Get a good night’s sleep. Your body needs sleep in order to re-generate, and often things look very different the next day.
- Retain a sense of humour. There’s scientific evidence that the act of laughing can lower blood pressure, balance the components of the immune system (which helps fight off diseases) and reduces levels of some stress hormones.
So, having a good laugh with your friends is like a 10-15 minute workout – which must be why you feel so exhausted after a good long ‘laughter spell!’
If you can introduce a number of these stress relief tips, one at a time, you can build up a pretty good strategy to at least reduce the negative stress you experience.
If you have difficulty knowing exactly HOW to implement them you may want to use coaching services. The coach will be able to support, encourage and advise you throughout the process.