Stressed Out? Here’s What to Do
There are ways to relieve stress, and there are ways to release it. Which one would you rather do?
Stress relief can take any form ranging from healthy to unhealthy.
In no particular order, some common stress relievers are exercise, meditation, being in nature, shopping, TV, sports, sex, alcohol, drugs, gardening, food, video games, hobbies, pets, etc.
But no matter how healthy a stress relief technique is, it’s temporary.
Here’s the thing — you can try to relieve stress, hopping on and off the stress rollercoaster…
…or you can release stress. Yup. Let it GO.
Stress release is just a thought away.
You can do a quick stress-reliever any time, any place: close your eyes and roll them slightly upward to your “third eye” located between and just above your eyebrows.
Exhale deeply several times, becoming calmer with each breath. And say to yourself “All is well. I choose my experience” several times until you feel better (feel free to substitute a mantra that resonates with you).
This little trick works, every time!
Stress Is a Choice
Most people aren’t aware that stress is a choice, but it is.
It’s just that we’re so used to automatically reacting in a certain way in any given situation, and thinking in terms of what can go wrong instead of what can go right.
Think about your automatic emotional reactions to some guy who cuts you off in traffic; your micromanaging boss’s constant demands; your bank statement.
Sure, some days are better than others. Some days you can shrug it all off. But if you have a lot on your plate and you’re zinging along at a million miles an hour, little annoyances can pile up until you’re buried in them.
But what if you were to completely change the way you look at things?
What if you were to look at the small annoyances from a big-picture perspective?
They just wouldn’t matter anymore.
Some guy cuts you off. So?
Give yourself kudos for driving with awareness and having the skills to avoid him AND the delivery truck in the next lane.
Your boss is in your face about how you do things. Your boss either needs to see some results, has lousy managerial skills, or just can’t let go of control. But put yourself in your boss’s shoes one day. And if your boss is really being a crazy person, then focus your energy on doing the best work you can (for your own sense of pride and well-being)… and be alert to new opportunities.
What if you look at the really big things in your life from the perspective of someone who already has it all — someone who’s been there, done that, and wrote the book about it?
For example, if you’re buried in debt, you can look at the hard facts of it and take the emotion out of it. Treat it like a spreadsheet.
This doesn’t mean sticking your head in the sand and avoiding the issue. Not at all. It just means that you choose to be upset by the situation or not.
Stressed or not, you still have to mobilize your brain’s resources to resolve the situation — but you get to choose whether you’re going to be up all night worrying about it or focusing your energy on a solution.
Impossible, you say?
Try meditating on it. Some really cool things happen when you meditate. Things that will teach you to eliminate stress from your life.
First, the act of meditation automatically relaxes your body, your brain, and your mind. The production of stress hormones (adrenaline, cortisol, etc.) stops, and the brain begins producing calming, healing substances like endorphins and serotonin. Even if you only have a couple of minutes to meditate, a quick 10-15 minute meditation will instantly calm you and make you feel better.
But don’t stop there. As soon as you can, do a longer meditation session and get to the root of why you’re stressed.
As your brain relaxes and dumps all these feel-good chemicals into your system, your mindset changes. The frantic pace of negative thoughts mellows out and you can start sorting through them — and deleting the ones you don’t like. You acknowledge the thought but choose to delete it and the emotional baggage that comes with it.
The easiest way to delete a thought is to replace it with a positive thought.
Focus On What You Want
As you’re using music for meditation, try watching the thoughts and emotions that come into your awareness and systematically deleting the thoughts that cause stress, replacing them with happier alternatives. This actually programs your mind to be hyper-alert for ways to make your desired scenario happen!
Visualization is essential to managing stress.
You already spend an inordinate amount of time worrying. Worrying is visualizing the worst-case scenario, or at least how annoyed you are by today’s little things.
What if you were to train your mind to hold the visualizations of what you want? Meditation is a perfect time to visualize. See and feel your ideal scenario, over and over and over. This is a nonverbal command to your mind to search for ways to make that internal scenario a reality.
Worst case, if none of this works, play the “worst-case” game. Ask yourself, “What’s the worst that can happen?” Whatever the answer is, the reply is, “So? I can deal with that and bounce right back.”
Choose to see that scenario in the light of opportunity instead of suffering. Because really, almost anything can be overcome with a little ingenuity, positive attitude, and perseverance.
These are some of the stress-busters that meditative introspection teaches you. You learn that it’s your attitude that determines your experience. You interpret the situation and you decide how it’s going to affect you emotionally. In other words, you decide whether something is going to stress you out or not.