My Favorite Stress Management Tips
Guys, I can manifest some amazing physical symptoms when I’m stressed out, let me tell ya. And that is no fun, let me also tell ya. Because of this, stress management has become a big part of my routine, so I wanted to share some tips with you.
I know, I know, you’ve heard this one before. I find meditating for 15 minutes before bed to be suuuuuper calming, though, and it helps me sleep really well, which in and of itself is another way to reduce stress (lack of sleep makes even little things seem gigantic!). You can focus on your breath, pick a focus word or phrase to bring your mind back to (such as “let go” or “all is well”), or focus on a steady noise in the room, like a fan or fridge. Just keep bringing your mind back to the thing you choose every time you notice it’s wandering.
It can be a diary with a lock on it, a spiral bound notebook from the dollar bin at Target, or the notes app on your phone, just find a method for writing stuff down that helps you feel calm. This can be used a few ways. Sometimes in the middle of the night I feel overwhelmed with too many to do’s running through my mind, and writing them down to deal with it in the light of day is helpful. Sometimes I write down what’s bothering me and ask if it’s really true, or if it’s something I’m blowing out of proportion and can look at another way.
Ah, the beauty of distraction. If you’re really jacked up on stress, a light-hearted distraction can be just what you need. Don’t choose something that’s not at all engaging (for instance, if I’m really stressed, watching TV doesn’t really help me that much, it may be different for you), but don’t choose anything that’s going to add even more stress (like paying bills or listening to the news). My favorite things are reading, especially if I can get engaged in the story or article, and working on art projects, which lets me focus on something fun and relaxing.
Deep breathing/breathing exercises
Google this, there are tons of choices. Just taking three deep breaths through your nose and blowing out through your mouth can send the message to your central nervous system that it’s time to chill, but there are more advanced techniques out there, too, like square breathing (breathe in for four seconds, hold it for four seconds, breathe out for four seconds, hold it for four seconds, repeat), heart breathing (imagining you’re breathing in and out through your heart, you can look up instructions online), or 4-7-8 breathing (somewhat similar to square breathing, an internet search will tell you how to do it).
Talking it out
This one can be tricky. If you’re stressed about something and share it with a friend or loved one, sometimes it can make things worse, especially if they start agreeing with you about how stressful the situation is, or start getting stressed out themselves. The key to making this one work for you is to tell your talking partner what you need right up front, before sharing anything. I’ll often say to my husband, “I want to tell you this thing I’m upset about, but I don’t want you to try to solve it or talk me out of it, I just want you to listen and then confirm my feelings.” That sounds weird, but telling someone ahead of time that you’re not looking for them to take on your stress or solve your problems can help make talking it out a great stress relieving experience. Oh, and if you’re dealing with something really, really serious, consider talk therapy with a trained counselor or therapist.
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