Ok, so you normally manage your stress well (or maybe you don’t!), but this week it’s built up and beginning to overwhelm you. You might be in a meeting at work, sitting in traffic on your way home, or being asked a million-and-one questions by your daughter. Whatever the situation, it’s important to know what to do when you really feel like screaming and running away forever.
It is important to recognize when you are becoming stressed. Your body is great about letting you know—breathing patterns, heart rate, blood pressure, and muscle constriction all increase with stress levels. You can only choose to take control once you recognize what your body is trying to say.
If you’re in an environment where you can separate yourself from the source of the stress, do so. Try some calming activities to relieve your mind and body, such as exercising, taking a bath or nap, reading, or even changing into more comfortable clothing. Stretching your muscles out or practicing relaxation techniques such as Yoga or Tai Chi can melt stress layer by layer.
Creativity can also help you de-stress. Some people enjoy writing, while others may be more inclined towards crafts or music. Choose the best activity for you. Getting your mind on something you enjoy helps with positive thinking and in turn reduces stress.
But how can you relax when the situation is unavoidable? Maybe the freeway is gridlocked for another five miles and there are no exits in the near future. It’s not easy, but it can be done. First, try to find something sensory that calms you. This can be a song, a smell, an image (in your mind or real), a taste, something you can feel, or movement of some kind. Honing in on sensory input like this helps calm your body and therefore reduce incoming stress.
Of course, although these methods can certainly help reduce stress quickly, it is only on a temporary basis. The ultimate goal would be to permanently reduce stress by living a healthier, more balanced life.