Stress is an essential part of life. The ‘bad’ stress gets us through tough situations and can even be life-saving at times. The ‘good’ stress can push us to train and work harder, meeting and exceeding our goals.
However, being in a heightened state of stress for extended periods of time, can cause physical and emotional issues. While our bodies were designed to be in a stress state for short periods of time (long enough to avoid being eaten by the saber tooth tiger), today we often find ourselves in ongoing states of stress due to our jobs and other stressors.
Since most of us just can’t quit our jobs and move to the beach, we have to introduce mini stress vacations into our daily lives. Choose some of these simple tips to incorporate into your daily life to help your body recoup from ongoing stress.
- Just Breath. This is a great way to calm the stress hormones in your body, and put your physiology back into a state of calm. Take slow, deep, belly breaths (let your stomach rise and fall). Feel peacefulness rise and fall with each inhale and exhale. Some like to focus on a color, a light, or a word as they breathe in the good and breathe out the negative. Just focus on your breath and be present.
- Be Mindful. Mindfulness really just means being aware and being in the moment. Take a moment to just notice. Notice any positive or negative feelings you are having. Don’t judge them, just notice them and let them go. Notice how you are breathing. Notice your posture. Notice your environment. Notice any physical sensations you are having.
- Go Walk. If you have time, go out and get some fresh air. Notice the temperature and the smell of the air. Notice the sounds. Getting your body moving around will help release physical tension while getting out of your environment will give your brain a signal that it can relax.
- Find some positive. Try and focus on 3 positive things from the day. Maybe they are events that have happened, maybe they are physical things you can notice while on a walk. Maybe it’s as simple as having hot water for your shower this morning or the feel of the sun on your skin. Be grateful for the little things that you have in your day, as this will give you a greater sense of well-being.
- Control your environment. Office environments can be difficult on the human body and the psyche. Florescent lights, uncomfortable chairs, loud environments all lead to increased stress levels. Focus on what you can control in your environment. Many things can be helpful from adjusting the temperature, dimming florescent lights and adding lamps, using head phones with soothing music, to putting up positive images and quotes in your cubicle.
- Ask yourself, “what can I do?” We often get caught up in the spiral of what isn’t going well for us and all the things we can’t have or do. These thoughts get us caught in a negative thought pattern that can bring us down and be difficult to get out of. Instead, think about what you can do today to have a better day. You might not be able to go on vacation today, but perhaps you can go for a bike ride, do a yoga class, or sit in the sun in your backyard. Shifting your focus to what you can control can be very helpful in alleviating stress.