Stress is not just a thought or a feeling. It can actually make you unhealthy. It might cause your body to release stress hormones. It can alter your appetite, it may even increase your heart rate. That’s why doctors tell us to avoid it. But life is stressful, so how, exactly, are we supposed to accomplish that?
Believe it or not, there are some very quick and easy ways to reduce stress.
First, acknowledge that the event and your response to it are two separate things. We tend to associate them, believing that, as long as the situation is true, the stress must be, as well. Simply acknowledging the distinction can help you on your way to a calmer response.
Second, give that feeling a name. Simply becoming consciously aware of what one is feeling is enough to reduce its impact on the person experiencing it.
Finally, remind yourself that you have options. Place the palm of your hand on the crown of your head, and take three long, slow, deep breaths. Then, ask yourself, “Is the situation really as bad as it felt initially?” Perhaps if you begin working on it, it’ll turn out to be easier than you thought it would be. Remind yourself of other times when you’ve survived situations like this one. Make a mental (or tangible) list of your good points.
Whatever your next steps are, following them without stress will always be a healthier choice, both physically and emotionally, because once the stress response is triggered, your body has to deal with it. It has to re-regulate your heart rate and breathing, to restore you to the set point, to re-absorb the unnecessary stress hormones, and all of that takes time. When your body is working on taking care of something else, it’s distracted by that task. So, when you’re stressed, you’re more likely to become ill. In 2014/15, 23.3 million working days were lost due to stress. Do not become a statistic. You continue living your life, but your body is preoccupied by this clean-up task. It’s kind of like sending your car off without a driver in it.
So, give yourself this gift: begin practicing these stress relief techniques starting today.