Historically, stress was our friend. It acted as a protective mechanism that warned us of danger; a natural reaction that told us when to run. Stress has remained part of the evolutionary drive because of its usefulness in survival. When used at the right time, stress increases our awareness and improves physical performance in short bursts. Yet repetitive exposure of the stress response can lead to long-lasting psychological and physical health issues. While it is unrealistic to aim towards being stress-free all of the time, we can all benefit from identifying our stress and managing it better.
Start by simply being aware of your thoughts. Try to observe your thoughts as an outsider. Take note of what’s going on, but without judging or attaching to the details. Then just let them go. They’ll come back again—but continue to do the same “thought watching” and they’ll slowly lessen. This is otherwise known as being “mindful.”
Positive self-talk can help you calm down and control stress. With practice, you can learn to shift negative thoughts to positive ones. For example:
– “I can’t do this.” > “I’ll do the best I can. I’ve got this.”
– “Everything is going wrong.” > “I can handle this if I take one step at a time.”
– “I hate it when this happens.” > “I know how to deal with this; I’ve done it before.”
– “I feel helpless and alone.” > “I can reach out and get help if I need it.”
– “I can’t believe I screwed up. > “I’m human, and we all make mistakes. I can fix it.”
To really make it work, practice positive self-talk every day—in the car, at your desk, before you go to bed or whenever you notice negative thoughts.
By tuning into your senses—see, smell, touch, taste and hear—you will automatically slow down the brain. Spend at least one minute on each:
When you’re stressed, the last thing you probably feel like doing is getting up and exercising. But physical activity is a huge stress reliever—and you don’t have to spend hours in a gym to experience the benefits. Get those feel good endorphins by:
Doing things you enjoy, even if only for 10 or 15 minutes, can make you feel good. Do any of these resonate with you?: