Ever feel like stress is taking over your life? Most of us have had this feeling every so often (or every day!)
It is possible to take charge and send your stress monsters packing!
Here are some questions to ask yourself and some quick and easy tips for you to try:
- What causes your blood pressure to rise? Traffic? Your workload? Household chores? Knowing what your triggers are can help you be ready for stress when it creeps into your day.
- Try this strategy: Next time you notice that you are stressed, stop what you are doing for a moment and verbalize the cause of your stress. Say something like, “My husband didn’t take out the trash… AGAIN! This causes me to feel stressed.” If the trigger to your stress is something you can change, go for it! If it is something that is out of your control, give yourself permission to “be a duck” and let it slide. Remember, it is your CHOICE to feel stressed by the trigger or not!
- What sorts of thoughts do you have when you are stressed? Our automatic negative thoughts (or ANTS) can really do a number on how we feel about ourselves or our experience.
- Try this strategy: Pretend you are your favorite handheld device. Imagine that the ANTS crawling around in your brain are apps that you don’t like or want to use. Swipe the apps away until you find a page that has HAP APPS (happier or more positive thoughts). Allow these HAP APPS to influence how you feel. I’ll bet you will notice that your positive thoughts cause positive emotions!
- How does stress impact your body? Stress can really do a number on the way our bodies feel, causing headaches, stomach upset, muscle tension… Just like you can take care of your negative thoughts, you can take care of your “body clues” as well (these are the clues your body gives you that you need to take care of your stress!)
- Try this strategy: BREATHE!!!! Seriously. That is all you have to do. The trick is to breathe slowly and deeply. Next time you feel stressed try breathing in to a 4 count, allowing your belly to expand as you fill up with healthy oxygen. Pause for another 4 count then breathe out to an 8 count as your belly retreats back to normal. Adding a cue like “calm” or “relax” on your out breath can help as well. Try it!
- How do you typically view life? Most people I encounter tend to notice and focus on the negative aspects of their life, relationships, performance etc. This is so much easier than noticing what is working or going well. You can train yourself to develop a positive outlook. It just takes practice.
- Try this strategy: Make a gratitude list at the start of every day and every time you notice yourself becoming stressed. This can be done verbally or in writing. Notice the small things that you can be grateful for like a song on the radio you enjoy, finishing your work on time, the green light at the intersection or a really good cup of coffee. Say, “I am grateful for…” before identifying the subject of your gratitude. This helps imprint the message that there are a lot of things to feel good about.
Remember, you are the boss of you! You can take charge of your thoughts, feelings and responses connected with stress. Practice some (or all of the strategies) I shared with you and you just may notice that things that normally cause you stress no longer have power over you because you are able to “bring yourself to calm!”