What are the things that stress you out?
It could be something as simple as burning a toast, getting stuck in a traffic jam before an important meeting, being in crowded places, health issues of near and dear ones, conflicts in relationships and work…well the list could go on and on.
What if I told you now that YOU yourself have the ability to reduce the impact of stress on your body and mind? Mastering the art of calming yourself down in stressful situations doesn’t come easy. It requires a bit of practice, and it also requires you to be mindful and acknowledge the fact that you are stressed out before you begin the process of fixing it. It is important that you identify your body’s stress response. Do you have a tendency to clench your fists, breathe shallow, get angry or agitated or do you feel tightness in your stomach or shoulders? You might even become depressed and spaced out when you are stressed.
Once you recognize the signs of stress you can go about working on it. Yoga and meditation work wonders for improving your coping skills. But chanting while sitting in a lotus posture during a job interview isn’t really the way to go. Or rolling out a yoga mat and going into a headstand during a disagreement with your spouse isn’t ideal (though I can’t say I’ve never done this). For these situations you need something more immediate and accessible. That’s what this article is about. Here are 8 tried and tested ways to relieve stress immediately.
- Press your palm in the centre with the thumb of your other hand to relieve nervousness in stressful situations like exams and interviews. Increase the pressure steadily as you breathe out. Hold for 3 to 7 seconds. Release the pressure as you breathe in. Repeat 3 times or until you feel the anxiety begin to dissipate.
- Breathe out a negative, breathe in a positive. As you breathe out, visualize the negative emotion, such as anger, streaming out of your nostrils. As you breathe in, imagine an appropriate emotion such as peace or compassion being drawn into your lungs and from there into the bloodstream, where it is carried to every part of your body. Continue until you feel the signs of stress dissolve. Other variations – breathe out blame, breathe in understanding; breathe out resentment, breathe in acceptance; breathe out complains, breathe in forgiveness.
- Drip cold water onto your wrists whenever you feel hot and bothered. Cooling the wrists has a refreshing effect on the whole body because it is here that arteries (large blood vessels that distribute blood throughout the body) are found close to the surface. You can also splash cold water behind your earlobes to achieve a similar effect.
- Recall a smile on the face of someone who loves you to give you the strength to deal with problems. I always try to visualize my son’s face in an ear to ear grin whenever I feel a bit tensed. I can’t help but smile back.
- Sing away sadness. Agreed you can’t do this in many situations but maybe some. Humming a favourite or uplifting tune releases pent-up negative emotions, lifts the spirits and helps to reconnect you with a sense of life’s endless possibilities.
- Lay your head on a pillow or cushion to release anger and tension if it’s available to you. Imagine the pillow to be a sponge sucking and absorbing all the tensions and frustrations out of your mind, like blotting paper, from which they evaporate into the air.
- Visualize a blue bubble stretching protectively around your body. Blue is associated with protection and tranquillity. Imagining ourselves enveloped in this blue film helps to prevent our energies from being leached by those around us. This technique is especially useful when we feel stressed by crowds.
- Unplug, take a break from technology. Instead go for a walk in a park, listen to the sounds of nature, observe people around you, read a book, look out of the window and just breathe. Sometimes that’s all that you need to do.
Let’s get real, you might not be able to recall any of this when you are in the middle of a nerve-wracking moment. It is our natural response to just give in and become tensed. Quick stress relief takes practice, more practice and some more practice. It is a bit like learning to drive or swim. You do not learn the skill in just one lesson. You practice until it becomes your second nature. Start small, practice, and have fun. Soon you will be handling mini-crises and not-so-mini-crises with a peaceful smile on your face.