Stressful situations are unfortunately a part of life and can come at any moment. If our bodies didn’t have a stress response, humans would not have been able to survive this long–our ancestors were able to get away from a sabre tooth tiger because the stress response triggered their adrenaline, allowing them to act quickly in the moment. However, holding on to stress for too long will wear your body down and make you sick.
Stress may be inevitable, but how we handle it is our choice. When you carry it with you everywhere, it starts to weigh you down. Stressful situations come up and you might not be prepared for it. Some last only for a short period of time, while others can last days, weeks, or months, causing anxiety that continues to play in the background. Here are a few tips to help you cope with stress.
Our practitioner, Michael says “We can feel helpless when not in control of a stressful situation, so what can we control? Our breath. We are taught that the reason breathwork is so important in meditation and practice is because it is what we can control about a situation. When we are faced with a sudden stressful situation, it takes a mere moment to take a deep breath, become aware that you are in a stressful situation, and let that feeling go. Maintain focus on your own internal control of the breath, find a moment of peace, and understand that anything out of control or stressful is part of the external world. I often think about the quote from Mahatma Gandhi that says ‘no one can hurt me without my permission.’ The power always resides within you.”
Build in regular exercise to your routine
Stress causes a build-up of excess energy, which can be released when you move your body. Movement also helps your body flush out all of the stress hormones. Find ways to exercise that make you feel free, like a child playing. You can get creative by making your own yoga flow and your own playlist to go with it. You can also walk, run, jump, or skip outside and admire nature. If you live near a swimmable body of water, you can release a lot of tension by immersing yourself in water and swimming. Swimming increases mindfulness and releases endorphins, your body’s natural painkillers.
Listen to Music
Listening to music helps promote healing and overall well-being. Soundwaves have major healing properties, helping your body relax and your mind slip into a meditative state. Sound healing has been used since ancient times, and it is believed that the ancient Greeks used sound healing to promote mental wellness.
Make a list
If you’re feeling overwhelmed with your tasks and feel like you have a million things to do, try making a list. Prioritize your tasks, and break large projects down into small steps. Avoiding them and procrastinating won’t make you stop feeling stressed, it’s facing your responsibilities and looking out for your future self by not avoiding the things you need to get done that will feel like you’re setting down a heavy suitcase.
Use the DBT Skill ‘ACCEPTS’
ACCEPTS stands for activities, contributing, comparisons, emotions, push away, thoughts, sensation.
Engage in an activity, like reading a book, going for a walk, or washing the dishes. Anything that helps get your mind off the negative emotion.
An act of service will help you get your mind of your stressful emotions and it will make you feel better about yourself.
Put your life in perspective and think about a time where you handled something as difficult or more difficult than what you are handling now.
Try to bring in the opposite emotion of what you are feeling. Sit in meditation and visualize a beautiful sunset, or kittens purring and slow-blinking at you.
If the emotions you are feeling are too intense for you to deal with at the moment, push them away and put them on the shelf until you’re ready to deal with them.
Replace your negative thoughts with positive ones by saying positive affirmations.
Use your five senses to soothe stress. Focus on what you can see, smell, taste, hear, and feel.