Stress is ever-present—bills, work, relationships, wellness woes, and when it inevitably hits your body it’s quick to let you know you’re out of balance. But stress isn’t all bad: without it, we wouldn’t get out the door on time in the mornings, be driven to hold down (or go after!) a good job or deal with life’s more difficult situations.
So while stress is an unavoidable and, even, necessary part of life—there are some simple, powerful techniques that can take the edge off, return your mind and body to balance, and reduce the length of time you are impacted by its effects:
1. Tune Into Your Body's Early Warning System Frequency
As we go about our busy days it can be easy to miss the warning signs of too much stress until it’s too late. Start to become aware of your body’s inner frequency by getting to know the red flags: whether physical like shortness of breath, a constricted throat, or an upset stomach or emotional signals like an overly wired mind, an inability to focus, or being lost in thoughts. Practicing awareness is your gateway to being able to do something about it.
2. Conscious Breathwork
We do it mindlessly every minute of the day but when we’re stressed it becomes shallow and fast—with some focused attention, conscious breathing is an instant chill pill. When you notice the red flags, find a quiet moment, sit down, close your eyes, inhale deep into your abdomen and slowly let all the breath out of your lungs. Repeat this three times and notice how it immediately relieves tension, restores energy, and reduces stress on those too-busy days.
3. Look Skyward
Spending time in nature is inherently nurturing, but if, like many people, you spend most of your time indoors you’ve still got the blue sky on your side. Take a pause during your day to take a walk outside and gaze up at the sky—not only is blue a calming color, it helps to give you a quick hit of perspective that there’s a big wide world out there and that we’re all experiencing similar challenges.
4. Put Pen to Paper
Shut down your laptop, but down your phone, and dig out some “old fashioned” paper and a pen. Journalling encourages your brain to slow down, to gain perspective, to discover new insights, and unplug from the busy digital world. It can also be a place to set down negative thoughts and emotions and, instead, connect to gratitude, life goals, and deeper insights.
5. Sleep It Off
Sleep is a powerful stress reducer and can be one of the most powerful things you do for your wellbeing. Sleep-sacrificing, on the other hand, makes you more emotionally reactive, have greater sensitivity to negative stimuli, and impairs mental clarity. Create a pre-bedtime sleep ritual that points your body in the direction of relaxation and calm and let your body and mind reset.
Stress isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, but next time you start to feel the overwhelm coming on, you can make a choice to use techniques like these so that you can continue to function at your best, regardless of what life throws your way.