Updated 2 October 2019
Like you I am sure, I go through various periods where I feel I need to act to reduce tension, stress and anxiety. The level of intensity of these types of feelings will normally depend on a combination of factors and a build-up of events that I’ll have to manage within a certain period of time.
For example, my workload increases or I have a huge mandate to complete within a short timeframe. And it just so happens that I’ve taken on too many after work commitments during that same period. All this will have an effect on the quantity of hours I get for sleep. Tension and stress start to appear.
Add-on a tough relationship with a coworker or boss, with a couple of unforeseen events—my dog gets sick, my home computer dies on me and I lose A LOT of data, my fridge stops working, and I could go on… (I’m sure all of you have real-life experiences like this where the list of things just piles up it. When it rains, it poors!). Now, I start feeling like there isn’t enough time in a day to deal with everything that’s on my plate. Stress intensifies and anxiety starts to appear.
It’s important to pick up on those mind and body’s signals early on, to avoid being faced with a more serious problem.
As we all know, it’s healthy to have some level of good stress in our lives. But it’s a different picture when you start feeling like you have too much weight on your shoulders, things are becoming too much to handle and that little hamster voice keeps controlling your thoughts. You need to start taking some correcting measures to reduce these bad feelings of tension, stress and anxiety.
WHAT I FIRST DO WHEN I FEEL TENSED, STRESSED OR ANXIOUS
If I notice I’m getting hyper, impatient, discouraged or negative about certain things, I’ll first take a moment to step back. Connect with myself and figure out what is going on. I need to put the finger on what’s actually hiding behind these feelings.
Why am I so hyper? Is it work or something else? Am I being too demanding with myself? Is that perfectionist side of me having negative effects and playing tricks on my mind? Am I possibly unrealistic about the number of tasks I’m expecting to accomplish in one day?
With time, reading various articles and books, taught me there are simple ways to reduce tension, stress and anxiety. Things I can incorporate in my routine that’ll bring me back to a more balanced and ‘connected-to-the-moment’ self.
9 WAYS TO COPE WITH STRESS AND ANXIETY
- Focus on connecting to the “now” as often as you can.
Inspired by one of my favorite spiritual books—The Power of Now—the first thing I will work on is “being in the now”. Use one of your senses to become more aware. For example, wherever you are, raise your head and really look at what is around you. You may discover things you’ve never noticed before — even though you’ve been walking that path regularly.
- Stretch your body.
Stretching has been a savior for me for years. It can be very effective if you do it on a regular basis. When things get hectic and my neck and back feel stiff, I’ll stretch every single night. Trust me, this will do wonders!
We’ve been hearing for many years now that exercising a few times a week — daily being ideal — has many beneficial side effects. I certainly notice the boost of energy exercise provides me and how it amplifies my positive thinking. You can find out more in this Huffington Post article (“13 mental health benefits of exercise”) that describes why and how it can actually reduce stress and anxiety. While this extensive list of No-Gym Workout Methods by Groom+Style will help you decide on which type of exercise could best fit into your weekly routine.
- Reserve time for an activity you love.
Give your brain a break. Find some time to practice a sport you love or do an activity that calls on your creative side, like a painting class for example. The important thing being that this sport or activity allows you to totally lose yourself in it — demands your total focus.
- Go out for a coffee with a close friend.
Just sitting down for a couple of hours having coffee or lunch with one or two close friends can do magic. It provides a chance to vent your emotions. A good friend will likely be able to make you see things from a different angle.
- Watch a good movie.
Watching a good movie (forego the stressful thriller or horror movie!) allows your brain to escape for a couple of hours.
- Awaken your senses with essential oils.
Shower in the morning using a nicely scented body wash with essential oils. A great example of the simple life pleasures you can incorporate in your routine. Lavender is known to have positive effects on the brain. I also look for other herbal scents I enjoy, like eucalyptus.
- Pay attention to the quality of your sleep.
If you’re having trouble sleeping, National Sleep Foundation is one of many websites that provides a long list of advice on the subject. A couple of tricks that work for me? First, I always read a few pages before I turn off the light. It takes my mind off the to-do list and relaxes me. Second, Otherwise, picked up from the book Younger Next Year—is simply to go to bed 1 hour earlier than usual. To get more of those quality hours of sleep.
- Go for a walk in nature. A great article from Porter magazine quotes a study made by Dr. Jo Barton, which reveals that exercising in nature would be correlated with reduced anxiety. Just thinking about it makes a whole lot of sense to me. As they say “Instinct tells us being in nature is good for the soul and now science proves it.” Let’s make room in our lives for more regular walks in nature!
How about you? Any other things you do to calm your soul? Share in the comment section below!