Is it worth knowing a few simple ways to help redirect, reduce or prevent stress? We don’t always have the time to manage the root cause and symptoms of our stressors. Yet, we can make a few changes before and during stressful moments to stay focused and calm until we can take a deeper dive into coping with our daily challenges. The following approaches may prove helpful.
After a stressful encounter and before starting your next activity, change course. Do some type of brief activity to shift your mental/emotional outlook and physical response. Let go and refrain from bringing the emotions of one situation into another activity. Feelings are thoughts you are having in the moment. You can change how you feel. Invite the mind to change its focus.
- Take a relaxing walk preferably near nature, as you fully breathe in and out.
- Meditate for 1-2 minutes.
- Get something to drink.
- Look out the window at the wonder of nature or the expansiveness of the sky.
- Redirect your attention to remembering something positive that happened recently.
- Listen to a minute or two of music you find calming or, if time permits, the entire piece.
Smiling is uplifting, welcomes positivity, and can reduce stress. It is a nonverbal cue that can convey confidence and warmth. When you release a natural and true smile, the eyes smile too. It’s a gesture of friendliness. Besides happiness and joy, the eyes can also communicate an array of feelings such as sadness, anger, fear, and confusion. When you include the eyes as part of your smile, the face becomes radiant. With a true smile, the upper lip lifts and the corners of the mouth turn upward, dimples may appear, the corners of the eyes scrunch, and the eyebrows raise slightly. Can you recognize a true smile? Perform a little test on yourself. Look in a mirror. Smile with and without engaging the eye muscles. Notice and feel the difference.
A 2-minute quickie. This five breath release and relax technique helps reduce the physical and mental response to stress. To begin, close the eyes.
- Breath in through the nose and as you are slowly and fully exhaling, release the jaw letting the teeth and lips part slightly.
- Breath in slowly filling the lungs completely and as you are slowly and fully exhaling, soften the eyes and face.
- Slowly breath in and as you are gently and fully exhaling, let the shoulders drop and relax.
- Breathe in slowly and as you breathe out completely, loosen and relax the fingers.
- Slowly breath in and as you breathe out, relax the belly and hips.
Now take a few more breaths to enjoy the feeling. When you feel ready, slowly open the eyes. Be aware of how you are feeling in both the body and mind.
Plan your time accordingly and be early. I was raised on the principle that if you were on time for an appointment, you were late. Turning up 15 minutes early was acceptable. Being late was not. For years, I fought this notion of showing up early until I realized it was an anti-stress maneuver. Arriving on time usually involved some underlying anxiety hoping there would be no unforeseen delays or rushing to get there. Stress was a part of the equation. So, eliminate the hassle by your logging your appointment time 15 minutes earlier.
Conscious listening. When speaking with someone, be present and truly listen to what is being said. You will be better prepared to grasp the information the first time around without having the other person repeat themselves because you were distracted. This saves time and energy in the long run and helps to lower frustration and possible communication errors.
Thank people often. People appreciate a loving compliment or kind word. When you deliver praise, be honest and speak from your heart. Acknowledging someone for a good deed, positive action, or a job well done lets them feel valued. Plus, it empowers your relationship with that person creating positive flowing energy. In turn, you feel good both as the giver and receiver. Thanking others is a wonderful antidote for stress.
Note: The information contained in this article is for educational purposes and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Consult with your doctor first before starting any new practices or health programs.
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