Notice that the title does not say eliminate stress, that would be impossible (and recall that some stress actually helps us by propelling us forward toward our goals.). Instead, we need to look at ways to effectively reduce stress in the short term which then gives us the opportunity to look at longer term solutions. Today we will look at 3 quick steps reduce stress NOW.
Let’s face it, sometimes we just need a “quick fix” and while it’s not a good idea to depend on the quick fix for all of your stress management, in the short term it can be quite effective.
Take a moment to stop and assess what is going on. Change your position if you are able in that moment (e.g. if you are sitting stand up). Just this simple act can start to disrupt the stress you are feeling. Consider what effects of stress you are feeling and take note of it. In other words how did you first become aware that you were feeling stressed? Often when we are feeling overwhelmed with stress we don’t have a clear idea of what is causing the stress. Knowing exactly what may not be as important as just noticing how you as a unique individual feel when you are stressed. Just being able to stop and say “I am stressed out” can begin a process of taking steps to address the stress you are feeling.
Tune in to what your body is saying. Our bodies give us many clues to help use become aware of stress. Tuning helps decrease stress by becoming more aware of the factors that increase our stress. Headaches, shoulder tightness, neck pain, stomach upset, and irritability are stress effects I tend to see in those I work with. Taking steps to connect those effects with what may be causing them can be helpful, but is not imperative in the moment. Keep in mind that if you don’t eventually connect the dots these effects will continue to show up each time those stressful conditions are present. Treating your headache or stretching to relieve tightness can begin to loosen the grip of stress in the moment.
Step Back—Get Distance
Stepping back and taking a few minutes to collect ourselves is an effective tool to helping decrease our stress. The amazing thing about this tool is that it need not be a long period of time. Often just 5 minutes away from the stressor can be enough to reset enough so you can return and participate in the flow of work or play again. Use this tool during a busy work day so you can complete your work and hopefully not return home in a irritable state.
Steps you can take right now to make that happen.
Take 5 minutes to…
- Go to the restroom
- Breathe—10 deep breaths counting backward from 10
- Pet an animal
- Squeeze a stress ball—The options are many and varied.
- Think of the last time you had a good laugh
- Nap—yes even 5 minutes in a reclined position with eyes closed can help.
Next Level Skills
Okay so I am not great at counting. While the title claims three I am going to add another. Here is the bonus step you can take.
Challenge your thinking.
Stop, step back, and take 5 minutes to look at what is stressing you. Think about the content of that stress. Look also at the context. Use the 5 minutes to determine how the stress is connected to you. Now consider what responsibility you have for it. Is this thing that is stressing you even within your control? Notice how I used the 3 quick steps to reduce stress and get to this next skill.
Many times we become stressed about things that have nothing to do with us. Or about things we can do nothing about. In the post 5 Minute Stress Management I talk about control. Taking a moment to look at your locus of control can help bring the stress down. Note that identifying where the stress comes from and how much control over it can help you to highlight thinking that is not helpful.
Challenging your thinking about the stressor can be relatively easy one you get the hang of it. For example once you determine that no amount of stressing over the driver that cut you off is going to change it, you can work to let go of that stress. Practicing this regularly makes it a habit.
That’s it for today
Have a great day and remember to leave a comment or email with feedback. Also consider letting me know what kind of content you would like to see more/less of in the future is always helpful.
Thank you for dropping by ~Lynda