Stress is out there, ready to take you over and bring you down if you don’t utilize proper stress management techniques. You can’t really prevent it, especially because it often sneaks up on you. Things can be rolling along just great at the office, and then—out of nowhere—half of your department gets the flu, leaving you to pick up the slack. Then there it is, in all its muscle-tensing, headache-inducing, breakout-causing glory… Stress with a capital “S.”
You couldn’t keep it from happening, and, in fact, you couldn’t even see it coming. That’s why it’s important to develop strong stress management skills. If you can make good use of the techniques found here, you can greatly reduce your stress levels, no matter what the situation.
The first and perhaps easiest way to reduce your stress is to breathe. Yes, just breathe, but not as you would normally or thoughtlessly. As you feel yourself becoming stressed and anxious, pause and take a slow, deep breath inward. Then let it out just as slowly. Don’t think about anything else; just focus on the in and out of your breathing. It might even help to close your eyes when you do this. Roll your shoulders a few times to help relax them.
Try doing this for ten counts, thinking a number in your mind each time you breathe in and thinking the word “out” when you exhale (i.e. “one, out, two, out, three , out, etc.). The counting will take your mind off of everything else and bring your focus back to your body and your physical wellbeing.
What you may not even realize is that being mentally stressed out exacts physical stress on your body. Your shoulders and jaw may become tense, you may slump further and further forward at your desk, etc., without even being aware of it. Doing this simple breathing exercise forces you to relax your body, and that helps you to relax your mind. Understanding the physical signs of stress that present in your body when you’re stressed out, and then knowing how to properly address them, will help greatly with stress management.
Take A Break
Taking a brief break from whatever you’re doing can also be helpful. This doesn’t just apply to work, but can also apply to stressful problems in your personal life. Let’s say you’re in charge of Thanksgiving dinner this year, and you’ve got a day full of cooking and dealing with guests on your plate. Try to find a few fifteen minute intervals to walk away from the insanity. Step outside for a quick walk around the block in between turkey basting intervals. Thirty minutes before your guests start showing up, sit down and read a chapter in a book or an article or two online.
Little breaks help refresh you. Anything that involves movement, like walking or stretching, gets the blood flowing and energizes you. Activities like reading or watching a few funny videos online will lift your spirits and take your mind off of the stressful situation at hand.
Listen To Music
Another thing that can help is listening to music, which can even be done while you’re in the midst of the stressful activity. Are you freaking out about having to write a big term paper or put together a report for work? Pop on a pair of headphones and listen to some of your favorite music while you work—you’re bound to feel more relaxed and happy as a result.
Ask For Help
Finally, never underestimate the power of asking for help, particularly when you’ve bitten off more than you can chew. Having a spouse play sous chef or assist you in cleaning before a dinner party can help you stick to your schedule, which prevents the added stress of being late. Enlisting a coworker to help with an overwhelming project can keep you from falling apart at work.
Have A Good Support Network
Plus, seeing your significant other, friends, coworkers, and/or family members come to the rescue for you is a wonderful reminder that you’re not alone in the world. There’s not much that’s more stressful than feeling like you have to solve all of your problems on your own. Leaning on your support system now and again can be a fantastic stress management technique.