(You can find Part One here).
There are many ways to reduce stress – and it’s important to remember that what works for one person, may not work so well for another. The key is to notice when stress levels are too high, and instead of trying to ignore it (because that simply doesn’t work) be willing to try different techniques…and keep trying and keep trying and keep trying, until you find ones you feel comfortable with.
1> Get grounded.
When our stress level is peaking, our mind is often racing at a million miles a minute and going in a million different directions. One way to bring it to the here-and-now is to focus on something in the here-and-now using one of the five senses. For example, touch something – draw all of your attention and focus to how it feels. Notice the temperature, the texture, shape etc. Or look at something – notice the colour, the contours, the shape, the way the light hits the surface etc.
Close your eyes, take a nice deep breath, and visualize a place that you associate with relaxation. Notice what you see as you look around this relaxing place, notice what you hear, notice what you feel… and breathe again. It’s like giving your mind a mini-vacation.
3> Use your muscles and trick your inner caveman / cavewoman.
Ever see a movie or tv show where the character gets so frustrated or stressed out that they drop and do push-ups? Well there actually might be something to that. Stress can be viewed as a left over evolutionary trait, designed to alert us to potentially life threatening situations – like that tiger hiding behind the tree outside our cave. When we are feeling stress, and respond by using our major muscle groups, one could say we’re tricking our ‘inner caveman/cavewoman’ into thinking we are doing something to eliminate the risk. It also shifts our focus from whatever it is that we are feeling stressed about, to our bodies. Ideally we want to be exercising regularly; but when we need to drop our stress level now.. drop and gimmie 20!
In Reduce Your Stress In No Time Flat (part one), I recommend taking a break, even just for a few moments. This builds on that. Sometimes we have a hard time mentally taking a break from something – so even though you’ve walked away for a few minutes, your mind is still on the task. To get your mind to take a break with the rest of you, try watching a funny video. Google a video clip of your favourite comedian, or a funny viral video you saw recently on social media…and let yourself laugh.
5> Ball up those fists… and release.
I strongly recommend a relaxation technique called Progressive Muscle Relaxation – and this is a bit of a twist on it to make it a quick, and efficient, way to reduce stress anywhere. Take your fists (or your arms/upper body/any muscle group you feel comfortable doing this with) and clench them up as tight and you can. Really tense up those muscles and hold for a few seconds. Notice how tight and strong they are. Now release… and focus all of your attention on what that feels like.. that feeling when the muscles let go and relax. Notice how good that feels. Now do it again.
6> Professionally decompress… again.
Yes, I mentioned this in ‘Part One’ – and I’m mentioning it again because it’s important. Don’t put off taking care of yourself. If you’re noticing that you’re not feeling your usual self, or you’re not sleeping well, or you’re grinding your teeth at night, or more irritable, or can’t focus or concentrate… and can’t shake it… it’s time to talk to someone.
Breathe deep and take care of you.