We all have stress – at work, at home and on the road. Sometimes we can feel especially stressed because of a bad interaction with someone, too many priorities, everyday hassles like getting stuck in traffic. Our triggers are all different but for any of us stress can build up in an overwhelming way without a healthy tactic for management.
Chronic stress can be like a domino knocking down your opportunities, your days, your weeks, etc and keep you from feeling and performing your best – mentally, physically and emotionally. But no one’s life is completely stress-free. It’s important to know how to manage the stress in your life. These three simple techniques will help you deal with stress.
#1 Talk Yourself Up – Be Your Best Hype Man.
Let’s be honest, we all talk to ourselves! Sometimes we talk out loud, but usually we do it in our heads. Self-talk can be positive (“I can do this” or “everything will be OK”) or negative (“I’ll never get better” or “I’m so stupid”). Negative self-talk increases stress. Positive self-talk can help you calm down and manage stress. There’s power in words. How do compliments make you feel? What about your favorite song? Do you have a motto or favorite quote? Remember these words. With practice, you can learn to shift negative thoughts to positive ones. For example:
Negative to Positive
Instead of saying, “I can’t do this,” say, “I’ll do the best I can. I’ve got this.”
Instead of saying, “I hate it when this happens,” say, “I know how to deal with this – I’ve done it before.”
Instead of saying, “I feel helpless and alone,” say, “I can reach out and get help if I need it.”
Instead of saying, “I can’t believe I screwed up,” say, “I’m human, and we all make mistakes. I can fix it.”
To really make it work, practice positive self-talk every day – in the car, at your desk, before you go to bed or whenever you notice negative thoughts. It’s a great practice to teach kids, too!
#2 Defuse Yourself.
Emergency stress-stoppers are actions to help you defuse stress in the moment. You may need different stress-stoppers for different situations, and sometimes it helps to combine them.
Here are some stress relievers:
Count to 10 before you speak or react.
Take a few slow, deep breaths until you feel your body un-clench a bit.
Go for a walk, even if it’s just to the restroom and back. It can give you a chance to think things through.
Try a quick meditation or prayer to get some perspective.
If it’s not urgent, sleep on it and respond tomorrow. This works especially well for stressful emails and social media trolls.
Walk away from the situation for a while, and handle it later once things have calmed down.
Break down big problems into smaller parts. Take one step at a time.
Work out or do something active. Exercise is a great antidote for stress.
#3 Get Active.
Doing things you enjoy is a natural way to relieve stress and find your happy place. Even when you’re down, you may find pleasure in simple things like going for a walk, catching up with a friend or reading a good book.
When stress makes you feel bad, do something that makes you feel good – even if only for 10 or 15 minutes.
Some of these stress-relieving activities may work for you:
Play with your kids or pets – outdoors, if possible.