Stress: 5 Quick Tips To Help You, When You Feel Stressed, Mad or Anxious
Stress is the weirdest disease of the century. We know what causes it, how to fight it but nobody seems really able, willing or effective in coping with it.
The first thing we should do is not denying that we maybe stressed. Stress hits all of us, at different degrees and at different times. While a little stress is good. Eustress – “a positive form of stress having a beneficial effect on health, motivation, performance, and emotional well-being especially the good, positive stress stress that keeps us focused and motivated. (Merriam-Webster)“
Too much stress though can really tear our lives into pieces mentally, physically and spiritually. Feeling overwhelmed and stressed-out makes us unable to do almost anything. It may actually to an extent perceive ourselves as paralysed and locks us in a self destroying loop.
Stress in the wrong proportions can so much become a big part of our lives, we end up thinking it is almost impossible to cope with it, or at least that dealing with it that will cost us some part of ourselves we are not prepared to lose. Most of the time it really is not like that at all. Coping with stress and getting rid of it can be so easy at times you may think it is too good to be true (which, as a paradox, makes our stress even worse).
” The greatest weapon against stress is to choose one thought over another”
– William James
Those who always think too much like to adopt a more pragmatic and intellectual approach to coping with stress. They try to figure out where the stress is coming from, analyse it and find solutions. While it may actually work very well sometimes, for the rest of the time it pragmatism and analysis may be really hard to apply and it may cause further stress.
One important thing to know (or to accept) is that the stress response is often much quicker than a conscious one. When stress is related to what we consciously or sub-consciously perceive as something dangerous or threatening to our life, values, assumptions or beliefs.
The stress response is so quick we can’t even tell when it is triggered. One moment you are fine and half a second later your body is tense, stiff and your breath shallow, ready for a fight or flight reaction. In such cases, an intellectual analysis is a total waste of time.
That said, let us see five tips to successfully cope with stress, plus a bonus one which will change your life for the better…
1. Learn Diaphragmatic Breathing.
Diaphragmatic breathing, or deep breathing – is breathing that is done by contracting the diaphragm, a muscle located horizontally between the thoracic cavity and abdominal cavity. Air enters the lungs and the chest rises and the belly expands during this type of breathing. – Wikipedia
Watch a newborn breathe. You will see his/her tummy expand and contract. A baby born breathes using his/her diaphragm. With time, though, and with external influences, “good manners” and other societal factors, he/she loses this ability, and learns how to develop stress.
Yes, you read right. Breathing “the normal way” is a stress booster.
Learning to breath again using your diaphragm is easier than you may think…
Sit upright and relaxed, or stand in a relaxed posture, drop your jaw and move it slightly forward. While keep your jaw muscles relaxed, leave your mouth ajar, your lips making a “O”. Do nothing. In a few seconds your body will begin breathe autonomously, using your diaphragm. It will happen spontaneously, you won’t suffocate, trust me!
Keep breathing like that for three minutes, then make it longer. This makes coping with the complexities of stress easier to deal with.
If you find out you can’t make it, or it feels as if you are running out of oxygen, there is nothing wrong with you. It is one of the subtle signs indicative that you may still be deeply stressed. Learn this technique to help you manage your stress better.
2. Avoid Caffeine, Alcohol and Nicotine.
That is to say, stay away from drugs and addictive substances. Such substances artificially alter your body state, increasing your heart rate even if you are standing still or seated.
These substances make your sight less effective, have an impact on your speech, prevent you from feeling healthy weariness and more. In short, they teach you to ignore the signals sent by your body, putting it in a state of artificial hyperactivity or euphoria.
At first they seem to help you reduce your level of stress but after a while this illusion will be directly link to their consumption, making you addicted to it. Ultimately this too increases your levels of stress. Unfortunately, these “remedies” are largely used to fight a symptom they themselves cause.
3. Exercise, Exercise, Exercise.
Physical exercise is one of the best responses to stress. While feeling stressed is a major turn-off for running, going to the gym or simply take a breath of fresh air, your body receives a great benefit from such activities.
Physical exercise is totally incompatible with the release of cortisol, the stress hormone. In other words, when you exercise you cannot be stressed. This is scientifically proven. After exercising, take a refreshing shower. You will be fully refreshed, healthy tired and ready for a new day or for a great rest.
4. One Thing At a Time.
Multitasking (Doing more than one thing simultaneously, e.g. taking a phone call and typing an email at the same time) is stress’ best friend! (Yes females are better at multi-tasking compared to men, though even they too have limits) What at first may sound really cool, being able to manage several things at the same time, will soon become addictive and more demanding. Literally multi-tasking can burn you out. Is this what you really want?
Better do one thing, and only that thing, then when it is completed move onto something else. As opposed to seven different things at the same time. Doing things one at a time, one by one.This will also teach you to concentrate and improve your performance and focus. This way when you do things well, you cannot be stress. It is a virtuous circle!
5. Set Your Priorities and Act Accordingly.
Do not let things overwhelm you. Do not let people take advantage of you. Dropping an errand or a social encounter won’t ruin your life or your career. Set a list of priorities according to your goals, values and your expectations.
Carry on your tasks one at a time, take a little time to recover and shake off. Go about your priorities based upon what is meaningful and important to you and what you want to achieve.
As simple as this sounds initially this may be challenging simply because sometimes we are mislead as to what really matters (by society or events as a child). Furthermore, we may have misconceptions as to what really matters (what it really takes) in regards to what we want to achieve.
When home or in a safe place, learn to breathe using your diaphragm or meditate. Focus on yourself, your values and priorities. If you let others take control of your life and your time, you will may find yourself stressed, on the road to burn out and overwhelm.
As a Bonus, I Want To Give You Another Great Tip: You Should Learn To Say No.
You can not please everyone.
Saying yes all the time will not make you look or feel better. It will only add one more things to your already stressful schedule. Results will be poor, your image and your self-esteem will be badly damaged and all will turn out far worse than expected. Saying yes all the time in this regard isn’t worth it. Though if you have done this before or are doing it now, learn from it.
Always remember who you are, accept the fact you are neither what the others want you (or would like you) to be, nor what you want to be. You are what you are, you are who you are… and that is a great thing.
You have your own values, your own pace, your own personality, your own goals and ambitions. Learn to communicate tactfully, diplomatically and directly who you are to people. This key skill will “Help You Win Friends and Influence People,” just like the book.
“Adopting the right attitude can convert a negative stress into a positive one “
– Hans Selye
If stress comes from the sincere will to achieve what you want, it is great, as long as it motivates you rather than makes you feel incomplete, unfulfilled and more lost than when you started. If it comes from what people tell you you should do, get rid of it. Breathe, meditate, protect yourself setting your goals and priorities.
Take care of your physical shape and more. Do not waste your time living somebody else’s life or let what other people think silent your inner voice, as Steve Jobs said.
In conclusion, from a more intuitive perspective… Whenever stress shows up over and over again, take a step aside and thank it. Your body is telling you is there is something wrong in either what you do, what you think or what you are not doing. Calm down, start to breathe with your diaphragm and let the answer spontaneously well up and come out. Those may indeed be the best three minutes of your life.