On a scale from 1 to 10 (with 1 being none and 10 being explosive), where would you rate your stress level right now? Having a high stress level ongoing is toxic for your mind and body. High stress levels can cause people to overeat, to overdrink, to have difficulty focusing, to make poor decisions, to have difficulty sleeping, and can increase people’s risk for heart and other health problems.
I believe there are two ways of reducing stress levels. One is a quicker fix, but not a permanent fix. The second is more of a long-term fix. I will share them both and if you are someone who experiences high levels of stress ongoing, I would encourage you to try them both.
Quicker fixes for managing stress.
The following suggestions are things you can do when you are experiencing stress. Engaging in these activities will help calm your system down or help you release tension or help distract you from your thoughts that are causing you to feel stress. These are all great strategies for managing any challenging emotions. I recommend that you find three to five things that work for you when you are experiencing stress.
Calming your system down strategies:
Deep breathing. Inhale for a count of four, hold your breath for a count of four, exhale for a count of four, pause for a count of four and repeat. Do this ten times or more.
Listen to calming music. Find music that relaxes you and helps you release tension from your body.
Take a warm bath. If possible, add a bubbles or oils that have a scent that is calming for you as well (lavender, chamomile, etc.)
Dry brush your body. Take a brush designed for dry brushing and brush your body starting with your feet and working your way up. Use long, slow strokes as you do this with each stroke moving towards your heart. This will also help increase blood circulation and promote lymphatic drainage.
Tension releasing strategies:
Exercise. Do some form of exercise that brings up your heart rate. This will release endorphins in your brain that will help you feel better.
Do progressive relaxation. Sit or lie down. Starting with your toes, tighten your toe muscles, hold for a slow count of five and then release them. Then move to the rest of the foot and tighten your muscles, hold for a slow count of five and then release them. Then move to your lower legs, tighten your muscles, hold for a slow count of five and then release them. Keep working your way up your body, ending with your face muscles.
Hug someone you care about. Be really intentional about your hug. Make sure it is tight and maybe a little longer than usual.
Laugh. Laughing reduces tension in the body and also reduces stress hormones.
Call a friend and talk about things other than what is causing you the stress. Change what you are thinking through your conversation and it will offer you some relief from your stress.
Read or watch a show / movie / YouTube videos. Have your mind focus on something new so that you are not focusing on the thing that is causing you to feel stress.
Engage in an activity that requires mental focus. When you do this, your brain will shift from focusing on the thoughts that are causing you to feel stress.
Listen to a piece of music and follow only one instrument. This is easiest to do with classical music but can be done with others as well. When the music starts, identify one instrument, and try to tune into only that instrument through the entire song. It will require focus so that your mind is distracted from whatever is causing you to experience stress.
There are many, many more options. What is important is that you find a few that really work for you and are realistic for you to access during times of increased stress. The goal with each of these strategies is to offer you some relief from the thoughts that are causing you to experience stress.
A longer-term strategy for managing stress.
Rather than trying to calm your body or distract your mind, this strategy is about managing your mind. Situations and circumstances do not cause us to feel stress. They are neutral. What we THINK about them is what causes us to feel something. Therefore, two people can experience the same exact thing and for one is it energizing and motivating and for another it is scary and intimidating. The situation is neutral; however, each person has different thoughts about it.
You have thousands of thoughts each day and many of them run in your unconscious mind. When you are able to notice the thought that is causing the stress, then you can manage it. Just by recognizing it, you will feel more in control. You can then determine if the thought is true and/or if it is serving you. If not, you can choose another thought in it’s place. Once you have a new thought, you will have a new feeling. It sounds basic and fairly simple, however, it does take practice and spending the time to do it, is so worth it.
How to manage your thoughts:
💥Notice what you are thinking that is causing you stress. Be sure you are not labeling the circumstance or situation as your thought. The question you want to ask yourself is, What am I thinking about this situation or circumstance.
💥Pay attention to the fact that when you think that thought, you experience stress. Get really clear that it is your thought, not the circumstance, that is causing you stress.
💥Decide if this thought is serving you. Just because you have a thought does not mean you need to keep it. Ask yourself, Is this thought really what I want to be thinking about this situation, especially knowing how it is making me feel.
💥Choose a different thought. If you decide that you don’t want to keep the thought because you don’t want to feel the stress, then choose another thought. How can you reframe what you think about the situation so that you have a thought that makes you feel the way you want to feel?
💥Practice. It will take some time and practice before you can do this consistently, however, learning this skill is life changing. Once you get good at this, you can do it with any negative thoughts you are having.
If you want to fast track your ability to manage your mind, consider coaching with me. Coaching can bring about significant improvements in many areas of your life. Learning to how to manage your thoughts is transformational.
If you are interested in learning more about coaching with me, check out my website HERE. As of the time this is published, I am offering a one-month, one-on-one coaching program that I have not offered before and won’t be offering for long. I have longer term options as well. Check it out before spots fill up - this is a TIME LIMITED OFFER!
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