It’s ironic that I’m writing this blog post today. I’m completely stressed out and not handling it well. We all deal with stress differently. For me, I cry. My emotions get out of control. I get angry, frustrated, and overwhelmed. This is my body’s biggest signal that I’m over stressed.
Other people have more subtle or more dangerous signals. For example, they may experience a flare up of IBS or they may get sick with a cold.
Hopefully, your signs and cues that you’re too stressed are more subtle; that you’ve learned to pay attention to your heart rate and your mindset before it gets too far. However, if you find yourself at, or over, the tipping point, there are a few steps that you can take to bring it back – to regain your calm self and to get through whatever you’re facing.
- Walk away and get some space. Whether it’s the kids screaming, your boss reprimanding you in front of your coworkers, or a fender bender in rush hour traffic, taking a few steps away and getting some space can help you calm down. If possible, get to a place where you can be by yourself for a few minutes.
- Feel your feet on the ground. Weird, right? But when you pay attention to your body in space and you feel the connection of your feet to the ground, it helps you feel more connected to your body and less attached to your thoughts and emotions. This subtle shift is sometimes all it takes to help you feel more calm.
- Breathe deeply. Take 3 slow and deep breaths. In through your nose and out through your mouth. You don’t have to close your eyes, but you can if it’s safe to do so. Feel the oxygen entering your lungs.
- Progressive relaxation. Starting from your toes, relax each part of your body. You can literally think, “rest, relax, unwind” and move your focus up your body. The challenge is to make it to the top of your head without getting distracted. If you do get distracted you can start over or you can resume where you left off. Like meditation, this takes practice. It’ll get easier and more effective over the time.
- Focus on something simple. Often, one of the reasons why a situation is stressful is because we’re trying to do too much or process too much at once. You can manage your stress response by pulling back and focusing on what you can do now, right now. Do one thing that you can do to make things better.
- Call in reinforcements. Sometimes it helps just to hear a friendly voice. Be honest, call your friend or loved one and tell them you’re stressed out, and you just need to hear their voice. It helps. Lean on the people that love you.
- Make a plan. Sometimes you just can’t pull yourself out of a stressful situation but you can make plans to unwind later in the day. Promise to exercise, take a hot shower, go for a hike or enjoy a nice dinner later in the day when the event has passed. A little self-care can go a long way toward helping you cope with a situation in the moment. If you know you have something calming to look forward to, it helps you handle what’s right in front of you.
Stress happens — and you can’t really prevent it — but you can change how you manage it. It all starts with good self-care. Strive to create a sleep routine that supports you, adopt healthy eating habits like the Primal Diet to support your body, and exercise to keep it all in balance. And when stress happens and it gets to that overwhelm point, you have 7 steps you can take to regain your sense of calm and keep moving forward.