Can you remember a time when you could completely relax and rest even though you were surrounded by work, chores, errand lists, to-do lists, and family demands? Maybe you can let it roll off you easily. Maybe you are one of those lucky people who can catch a quick power nap anywhere and wake up refreshed and ready to take on the world. Or maybe you have trouble not only napping but even just sleeping through the night. Individual and ongoing demands in our lives may result in feeling “stressed out,” and we can experience a variety of physical and emotional imbalances, like insomnia, migraines, pain, mood swings, depression, and weight gain or loss.
What is stress? From The American Institute of Stress: “The term ‘stress’, as it is currently used was coined by Hans Selye in 1936, who defined it as “the non-specific response of the body to any demand for change.” Through experimentation, Selye found that short-term stressful situations can result in impacts on the stomach, lymph system and adrenals. He found that chronic or long-term stress can result in heart and/or kidney disease, stroke, and rheumatoid arthritis. He later defined stress as “the rate of wear and tear on the body.” Selye’s research attracted much attention and ‘stress’ became a well-used buzzword for many situations.
There can be good stress, such as winning an award or being offered an exciting new job or getting engaged. But we most often identify stress with things that are not so good: bills, relationship problems, or the boss from you-know-where.
Some research shows that increased stress can lead to increased performance. But, and this part is really important, only to a certain point. Maybe that’s our breaking point, and that point is different for each of us. So it’s critical that we each recognize our own warning signs and limit how much stress we are exposed to.
And we don’t want to get stressed out about being stressed out! So what do we do when we see warning signs, or worse yet, miss the warning signs and reach a breaking point? There are many well-accepted methods to reduce stress in our lives. Here is the countdown of five things you can do that are quick and can immediately reduce the stress you are feeling right now. Mix and match to find the best fit for you. For more ideas and specific methods to reduce YOUR stress, I’m here.
5. Stretch your body. You don’t need to be a Yoga expert. Simple stretches in comfortable ways can reduce your stress. Work within your individual limits. Try reaching toward the ceiling, interlace your fingers and reach forward to stretch your back, clasp wrists behind you and stretch open your shoulders and chest and release. Slowly roll the chin down toward the chest and then roll the right ear toward the right shoulder, back to center, and left ear toward the left shoulder. Roll the shoulders forward and backward. Be gentle, we’re trying to reduce stress, not get in a wad because we can’t stretch as far as we want. Don’t force it. Be kind to yourself. A few minutes of gentle stretches can refocus your negative thoughts back to the positive.
4. Physical activity. Go for a walk, get to the gym, enjoy a run, go dancing, get on a bike, play tennis, go for a swim, find an elliptical machine, play racquetball, climb some stairs, do some pushups, play basketball, find a personal trainer to inspire you to move your body. Go to a Yoga class. There are so many excellent ways to get some sort of physical activity into your day. Ask yourself what is possible for you at the moment you need a break from something stressful and try it. And then try to devote some time to yourself, setting aside at least 3 times each week to be physically active.
3. Spend time in nature. I saw a great billboard with a big picture of the cutest puppy and the quote “Go! Outside!” Try getting outside for 5 minutes. Or at least look out the window if you can’t get outside at the moment you are stressed. I’ve seen several authors credited with a great quote: “Spend 20 minutes each day in nature. Unless you’re too busy. Then spend an hour.” That’s how important it is! There are several nature challenges online, such as spending 30 minutes in nature each day for 30 days, which might inspire you to create a long-term habit! Simply breathing fresh air can make a difference in how you feel. Bonus points for combining this one with number 2!
2. Breathe. Yes, but we’re doing that already, right? Hopefully true! But this type of breathing is just a little different. Pay attention to your breathing. As you breathe normally, simply notice. Notice the air coming in as you inhale, where it goes in your body. Does your chest rise? Does your belly rise? Is the air cool in your nostrils? Maybe there’s a little space of time between the inhale and exhale where you are completely still? And notice as you exhale, is the air that is leaving your body a little warmer now? Which deflates first, belly, ribs, or chest? Can you empty every bit of air out? Are you still for a nanosecond before the inhalation? Maybe try slow, deep breaths. Fill the lungs a little more with each inhalation. Take at least 5 very slow, very deep breaths before coming back to your normal breath. Did you have any idea all that was going on when you breathe? Of course, we don’t notice it all the time – but even just 2-3 minutes of mindful breathing is a quick fix to immediately reducing your stress.
1. Tapping. You knew this was coming as #1, right? EFT Tapping alone can help reduce your stress level in about one minute! Try the basic recipe, using setup statements like “Even though I have all this stress about _______(fill in the problem), I am doing the best I can. Even though this stress is building up about _________, I choose to feel calm about this now. Even though I have all this stress right now, I accept myself and I’m okay.” Do a round or three on the tapping points in the basic recipe about “this stress” until you get your intensity level down to below a 5 on a scale of 0-10. Keep tapping until it is lower if you like, or try some positive statements such as “I choose to release this stress now. I am feeling much calmer about things. I am ready to let it all go now. I choose to do what I can and let go of the stress. It is safe to release this stress now.”
Hopefully, this gives you some ideas for quickly reducing your stress. If you find yourself constantly stressed, look at what is going on in your life that you might be able to change to make it better. Even just one change can make a difference. For more ideas and specific methods to reduce YOUR stress, schedule your FREE 15-minute phone conference!
Keep Calm and Tap On!