Stress! You know the familiar feeling: your chest and jaw tighten up, and incomplete thoughts race through your brain. You begin to sweat, and sometimes you feel nauseous. And you’re pretty sure your heart will explode. It’s certainly not the most pleasant experience, but it’s all too common among adults today.
Regardless of the cause, we all dig into the “fight or flight” system when overwhelmed with stress. In order to prepare our bodies to deal with the supposed threat, our bodies become flooded with hormones, including cortisol. You know …the hormone that holds on tight to our fat cells, increases blood pressure, leads to acne, etc. Yikes!
While stress can sometimes work for you rather than against you (deadlines, anyone?), it is comforting to know that it can be dealt with in a healthy manner. Here are 5 tips you can use to decrease your stress in those moments when you feel most tense and panic beginning to rise.
- Use Your Senses: By physically touching something (e.g. your warm skin, the fuzzy carpet, a cold glass of water), you will be grounded and brought back to the present moment. Focus on what you are touching, and allow the realness of the physical object to clear your jumbled thoughts.
- Deep Breathing: There is something to be said about a purposeful, strong inhale and exhale session. Sending significant amounts of oxygen to your brain will help relieve your anxiety. Take a slow, deep inhale through your nose, hold for 2 seconds, and then slowly release the air through your mouth. Repeat 9 more times.
- Mindfulness: Help clear your mind by giving your brain a challenge to focus on. Try solving a difficult math problem, or listen to some music and try to follow one single instrument throughout the entire song. Redirecting your concentration using mindfulness will draw you away from the stressful and anxious thoughts you may be experiencing.
- Be Grateful: Take a few minutes to write down 3-5 things you are grateful for. You can either dig deep with this, or just write down simple things. Remembering and appreciating all the positive things in your life will help to put your stress back in perspective.
- Move It: Remove yourself from the stressful situation by going for a 10 minute walk. If you have time for a workout, that’s even better. The distraction of doing something physical, along with the feel good endorphins that come with it, allows your stress to practically melt away. Not to mention all the other wonderful benefits of moving your body!
Stress may be a fact of life, but it doesn’t have to run your life. Try incorporating these tips to keep the stress manageable in the moment. And in the words of Bob Marley, just remember: “Every little thing is gonna be alright.”