Stress itself is a naturally occurring state and it has good reason to exist. It pumps adrenalin around the body when we need it most: it helps us to be quick thinking and have fast reactions. Many of us report to work better when we are under stress. Stress isn’t something we should be too worried about, but we are. And this is the problem: we’re forgetting to allow the state of stress to come, do its job, but then to leave the body.
By getting stressed about being stressed, we’re holding on to it so tight that it’s building up and leaving behind all sorts of horrible toxins that we do not want or need in our body.
It’s fine to allow ourselves to be stressed occasionally, but we must remember to let it pass.
Give yourself the stress test right now:
How are your shoulders? Up or down? Could the muscles be a bit more comfy?
What about your tongue? Pushing against the top of your mouth or is it relaxed?
The best first stop to relieving stress is by becoming aware of it. Then learning ways to notice it but let it pass.
Associating new habits with old routines is an easy way to successfully integrate them into your life. So here are a few ideas for you:
1) Make your bed. Give yourself a few minutes in the morning and decide your intentions for the day as you straighten out the sheets. Shake the stress out of your shoulders as you shake the duvet out. Picture the blank canvas that is today. A new day. A day with great potential. Set out your plans to not allow stress to take over.
2) Have a mindful moment over your hot drink (or cold!). It’s an easy regular reminder to have a moment of self-awareness. Every hot drink, try to take in the following: the heat of the cup on your lips, the texture of the material, your breath as it passes your lips and hits the top of the liquid. Try and notice the connection between your hand and the cup, the heat that’s passing between them and then take a slow inhalation. Appreciate the scent, try and notice something in it that you haven’t noticed before. And as you breathe back out, relax, then take a sip.
3) Press ‘pause’ before you react. Most of us will think we don’t have time to pause. But you do. If you notice a strong emotion coming over you – bad news in the office, perhaps something hasn’t turned out how you hoped, you should try and stop yourself before you react. Be aware of what you are feeling as it passes over your body. Let it happen, it’s your body naturally reacting, but then let it leave before you finally make your response. Watching your feelings come and go allows them to actually go and helps you make less compulsive responses.
4) Walk to a meeting mindfully. Pay attention to where the soles of your feet are touching the ground and how that feels. Try and notice the air, the temperature, the weight and feel of your clothes. Connect with the ground as you go from A to B. It will clear your head and straighten your thoughts prior to the important presentation or session you are going to.
5) Smile more. Make a point of smiling every time you look in the mirror. Often when you least feel like smiling, it’s the most beneficial time to do it. Smiling triggers the release of the neurotransmitter dopamine, which makes us feel good. So just smile. Make a habit of it.
One of the reasons it’s good to regularly meditate is so that in moments when you need to de-stress you can turn to a five minute meditation and it will calm you greatly. However, if you do not have a regular practice, this is a very hard thing to do and could prove stressful in itself.
Instead, start by doing a small amount of meditation every day – preferably when you are relaxed. Over time you will be able to then turn to it in negative moments when you need to control your responses.