We all have stress – at work, at home and on the road. Sometimes we can feel especially stressed because of a bad interaction with someone, too much work or everyday hassles like getting stuck in traffic.
Chronic stress can keep you from feeling and performing your best – mentally, physically and emotionally. But no one’s life is completely stress-free. It’s important to know how to manage the stress in your life. These three simple techniques will help you deal with stress.
1. Positive Self-Talk
Let’s be honest, we all talk to ourselves! Sometimes we talk out loud, but usually we do it in our heads. Self-talk can be positive (“I can do this” or “everything will be OK”) or negative (“I’ll never get better” or “I’m so stupid”). Negative self-talk increases stress. Positive self-talk can help you calm down and manage stress. With practice, you can learn to shift negative thoughts to positive ones. For example:
Negative to Positive
- Instead of saying, “I can’t do this,” say, “I’ll do the best I can. I’ve got this.”
- Instead of saying, “I hate it when this happens,” say, “I know how to deal with this – I’ve done it before.”
- Instead of saying, “I feel helpless and alone,” say, “I can reach out and get help if I need it.”
- Instead of saying, “I can’t believe I screwed up,” say, “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. It’s a great practice to teach kids, too!
2. Top 10 Emergency Stress-Stoppers
Emergency stress-stoppers are actions to help you defuse stress in the moment. You may need different stress-stoppers for different situations, and sometimes it helps to combine them.
Here are some stress relievers:
- Count to 10 before you speak or react.
- Take a few slow, deep breaths until you feel your body un-clench a bit.
- Go for a walk, even if it’s just to the restroom and back. It can give you a chance to think things through.
- Try a quick meditation or prayer to get some perspective.
- If it’s not urgent, sleep on it and respond tomorrow. This works especially well for stressful emails and social media trolls.
- Walk away from the situation for a while, and handle it later once things have calmed down.
- Break down big problems into smaller parts. Take one step at a time.
- Turn on some chill music or an inspirational podcast to help you deal with road rage.
- Take a break to pet the dog, hug a loved one or do something to help someone else.
- Work out or do something active. Exercise is a great antidote for stress.
3. Stress-Busting Activities
Doing things you enjoy is a natural way to relieve stress and find your happy place. Even when you’re down, you may find pleasure in simple things like going for a walk, catching up with a friend or reading a good book.
When stress makes you feel bad, do something that makes you feel good – even if only for 10 or 15 minutes.
Some of these stress-relieving activities may work for you:
- Play with your kids or pets – outdoors, if possible.
- Take a walk in nature.
- Meditate or practice yoga.
- Work in the garden or do a home improvement project.
- Go for a walk, run or bike ride to clear your head.
- Read a book, short story or magazine.
- Meet a friend for coffee or a meal.
The key is to find your groove and make it a practice. You’ll be amazed at how quickly you may start to feel better once you disrupt the cycle of stress.