Everyone has stress; it’s part and parcel of life. But that doesn’t mean it has to get the best of you, or beat you down. There are as many ways to deal with it as there are people. But I know that you only want the best, so here are the 5 best stress management tips that I’ve found that work for most people and apply to almost any situation.
5. Breathe. A few deep breaths when you’re under a stress attack can take the edge off and make it easier to think clearly and to not say anything you might regret later. It also helps to take your body’s physical response to stress down a notch or two as well.
4. Exercise. Physical activity will help to release built up and stored stress. Just make sure you’re doing something you enjoy; you aren’t doing yourself any favors if you run for exercise but hate running. Disliking the activity could trigger a stress response for you which could end up adding stress to your body and mind rather than relieving it.
3. Laugh. Laughter is one of the best stress relievers on the planet. Don’t believe me? When was the last time you had a good laugh and didn’t feel even a little bit better afterward. Have you ever had a good laugh, followed by a statement like “wow, I really needed that.”? Some great sources of laughter are: movies, TV shows (comedies, obviously), You Tube, Facebook joke pages, laughter yoga, and simply laughing at nothing in particular (admittedly this one is a bit harder and forced, but the forced laughter will turn into true laughter after while.)
2. Meditate. Just a short 20 minute meditation each morning is a great proactive way to head off many stresses before they have a chance to take their toll on you. It will help put you in a calmer, more clear-thinking state of mind throughout the day so that things that might otherwise stress you out (being cut off in traffic, for example) won’t phase you and may even go unnoticed. Meditation is not about emptying your mind so much as it is about letting your thoughts pass through your mind with out following them to the past or the future. Personally, I recommend mindfulness meditation as it is compatible with all belief systems and is simple to do (notice I did not say easy). It will take 5-10 minutes for your brain to quiet down (it never stops, but as I said before, that’s not the point) and to begin to feel the meditation’s calming effects. If you think you’re too busy to meditate, then this old zen adage is for you, “You should sit in meditation for twenty minutes every day – unless you’re too busy; then you should sit for an hour.”
1. Change your expectations. If you expect a liar to tell the truth, just because s/he should, you’re setting yourself up for some major stress. (Likewise for any other less than desirable, annoying, frustrating, or irritating trait that others have.) To stick with the liar example, it’s much less stressful to not trust what the liar says until you have some kind of confirmation. Most things that people say are not terribly important in the grand scheme of life, so just let what they say go in one ear and out the other. If they are giving you need-to-know information, make sure you verify their info before acting on it. It ‘s not easy to transition to different expectations, but Byron Katie’s book Loving What Is is a phenomenal resource for helping do just that. It helped me immensely to deal with a lying liar in my own life. This person is still in my life, and the mutual people we know still complain with fair regularity about the lying but I no longer feel put out by the lies because I expect them. As Byron Katie would say, I’m dealing with what is rather than what I would like it to be.
What’s your top stress management technique? Leave a comment below and let me know. And don’t forget to share this post with your peeps in social media land who could use a little help managing their stress.