- Mental Health»
- Stress Management
How to Conquer Stress
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:
Be a Duck
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!
Find Your Hap Apps
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!
Remember to Breathe!
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 physical response to stress as well.
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.
Get Away From it All
Do you allow the stress that is around you (emanating from coworkers, family members, or strangers on the street) impact how you feel? Sometimes a short break can help you feel calmer and better able to take on your day.
Try this strategy: Take a 60 second vacation. Close your eyes and allow your thoughts to drift to a place real or imaginary that is peaceful and calming. Breathe slowly and deeply as you explore this peaceful setting with your senses.
You ARE the Boss of You!
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. You just may notice that the things that normally cause you stress no longer have power over you. Feel proud that you are able to “bring yourself to calm!”