Tips for Managing Stress
Mindfully Aware Health Coaching
Not again! Ughh!! Why do I get SO stressed?! Over time, I have found a few simple tips for managing stress.
Tips for Managing Stress
We all feel it at one time or another and stress can actually be useful for us as humans and on the other hand it can lead to real harm in our minds and our bodies.
Adding some awareness to your toolkit while in stressful situations can set off a new series of interventions to knock the stress out and bring the peace in.
Are there myths surrounding stress?
How many times have you read or heard, you just need to sleep more, exercise more, take supplements and or eat right to eliminate stress in your life?
Sleep, exercise, supplements and eating right are only a few ways to cope with symptoms of stress, but do not necessarily address the heart of the matter.
Help! What can I do then?? Some Tips for Managing Stress.
Becoming aware of your own body, mind, environment, relationships and emotions can go a long way in minimizing the stress response.
When the boss calls you into the office, does your face flush? As you are running late for an appointment, does your heart race? If your significant other says, “can we talk?”, do your palms sweat? Just as a deadline is fast approaching with much left to accomplish, do you get a headache? While managing your finances, do you feel sick to your stomach?
It’s one thing to be aware of these outward expressions of your body undergoing stress, but what can you do to stop or minimize these and other symptoms of stress?
Next time you feel stressed, become curious. Ask yourself some questions:
- What am I feeling?
- Where is the feeling located?
- What is the precipitating event?
- Who is here?
- What is true?
Asking yourself questions in this way you begin to become mindfully aware of the way your body and emotions respond to different stressors in your life.
Fact finding mission!
Find out the answers to the above questions. Set yourself up to enter a situation known to be stressful for you. Once engaged in the situation, take just a couple moments to notice what different parts of your body are experiencing.
- Be mindful of your hands, think about your shoulders, where is your tongue?
- What about your teeth, toes and legs?
- Are your hands clenched, fidgety, sweaty?
- Are they balled up together or in your pockets?
- Where are your shoulders? Up by your ears or relaxed and down?
- Is your tongue pressed to the roof of your mouth or floating and relaxed?
- How about your jaw and teeth? Are they clenched?
- What am I fearful of?
- What is true? Am I safe? Am I well? Does this change who I am?
Noticing these responses in your body to situations is a great first step to a less stressful experience, day and life.
This allows you to become aware of the how, when, where’s and why’s of your stress, as well as any fear surrounding the event. You get in touch with what is and is not true about the present, the right this minute. Now you can do a few things to prepare for the next known stressor, potentially alleviating some of those nasty stress symptoms.
Don’t avoid it! Prepare for stress.
Avoidance can be a stressor all it’s own and sometimes there’s just no avoiding.
Instead try one of these:
- Box Breathing. Take 5 minutes, or even 3, to do something called box breathing.
This relaxation technique is simple and easy to remember.
Pay attention to your breath for a count of 5,5,5,5.
Inhale for a count of 5…
Hold for a count of 5…
Exhale for a count of 5…
Hold for a count of 5.
Do 5 cycles of this.
- Body Scan. After a few cycles of box breathing or deep breathing, begin to focus on one body part or group of muscles at a time beginning with your toes and working your way up the body. Pause anyplace you now feel tension or anxiety, breathing into that area, holding the breath for a couple seconds and then releasing.
Visualize releasing any physical tension you feel there, upon your exhale. Allow the tension to flow out with the breath.
- Pocket Fidget. In addition to breathing and body scan, you can place something meaningful in your pocket to either carry as a symbol of calm, peace, resilience or strength. This allows you to touch and fidget with it, providing some release of nervous energy.
In short, you may not be able to avoid talking to the boss or putting yourself in a situation where you feel vulnerable but the event itself can wield less power to do harm. With some simple tools a situation can become less stressful and your body’s response can actually be helpful rather than harmful. Above all, keying into your own stress response and putting into practice a few simple, mindful and stress reducing techniques can gain you huge effects in your body’s ability to manage a stressful situation and come out the other side with a smile.