My 7 favourite stress busting strategies
Here's the thing - a little stress can be good for you.
A little stress can energise you, challenge you and motivate you to achieve your goals and greatness. Researchers believe that small doses can protect your body from infection and strengthen your immune system.
Too much on the other hand, will compromise your effectiveness and weaken your immune system making you susceptible to all kinds of nasties. Think poor concentration and irritability to more serious autoimmune flare ups.
Do you know what your triggers are?
The best way to move past stress is to acknowledge that everyone goes through unsettling periods and that it passes.
You can help yourself navigate through the unease by first understanding what your big triggers are and secondly by having a few stress busting strategies up your sleeve you can turn to when you need them most.
Here are 7 of my favourite stress busting strategies for calming down and moving on:
Strategy 1: Ask for help
Chances are at some point in life you will need a hand up, a shoulder to lean or cry on, a motivating nudge, or a trained professional to talk to. There are more avenues of support and resources available than ever before. Don’t wait for the crisis -seek out the help you need, when you need it.
- Get a fresh perspective - look to your inner circle or someone you trust and thrash it out. Sometimes getting it out of your head makes all the difference.
- Outsource – identify what tasks you can pay someone else to do. Think about significant time and energy wasters that keep you away from your most important work e.g. cleaning, ironing, mowing, designing, cold calling, etc.
- Take advantage of what your workplace has to offer – many companies nowadays provide employee assistance programs, work/life balance workshops etc.
- Talk to a professional - doctor, nutritionist, free national helplines e.g. Lifeline, BeyondBlue.
- Hire a professional - create your own committed cheer squad with someone dedicated to success by your side every step of the way e.g. life/business coach, personal trainer, etc.
Strategy 2: Create boundaries
Boundaries set the tone for what it expected and are a reflection of what you are all about. They're important in maintaining healthy relationships, managing your time and energy and getting your most important work done. Practise saying no more and you will create space for the big and fabulous yes's.
- Genuinely thank the person for asking in the first place.
- Acknowledge their request (and courage for asking where appropriate).
- Tell them no (using your own non-negotiable courage).
- Let them know why (but don't justify).
- Offer an alternative if possible (another contact, avenue to pursue, etc.).
Strategy 3: Just breathe
There are 1440 minutes in any given day. Invest 10 minutes of that time paying attention to your breathing. A focus on deep, full breaths will help to alleviate stress, tension and make you feel better instantly.
Give it a go:
- Set a timer for 5 minutes.
- Sit upright in a relaxed position.
- Inhale; take a long deep breath in slowly though your nose (count to 5 silently).
- Exhale; breathe out fully through your mouth releasing all the air from your lungs (count to 8 silently).
- Empty your mind and focus on every breath entering and leaving your body.
- Repeat until the 5 minutes are up.
Strategy 4: Sleep more
Just like food and water, sleep is fundamental to your health and wellbeing. Sleep bolsters memory, restores chemical balance, repairs tissue damage, reduces inflammation, sharpens your attention, enhances creativity and makes you less cranky (and a lot more likeable by default), just to name a few of the benefits.
How to improve your sleep habits:
- Set a regular bed time - go to bed at the same time every night.
- Set a regular wake time - same applies. In time, you will learn to wake up naturally.
- Aim for 7-8 hours of sleep - it's what most studies and research still advocate for adults.
- Take naps to make up for deficits - catch up before it catches up on you.
Strategy 5: Look at the big picture
Most of us will spend far too much time in a state of analysis paralysis, anxiety, or worrying about things that will never happen. Talk about a great way to squander away your precious time, energy and courage.
- Will it matter next week?
- Will it matter a month from now?
- Will it matter a year from now?
- How will it affect my long-term goals?
- If I do it how will it affect my overall levels of happiness and satisfaction?
- If I don't do it how will it affect my overall levels of happiness and satisfaction?
Strategy 6: Go to your happy place and shut the door behind you
Everyone has a different version of their happy place - that magical and protected space where you go to escape the unpleasant and surround yourself with the joyous. It's a great place to visit and de-stress.
Go to your happy place:
- Think about what person, place (or pet) makes you smile just thinking about it.
- Go there.
- Shut the door.
- Stay as long as you need.
Strategy 7: Keep a mindfulness journal
Keeping a mindfulness journal is a great way to identify your habits and enhance your self-awareness. Look for patterns in the way you perceive and participate in the world. Recognise what brings you down and lifts you up so you can either find a way to introduce step-by-step changes, or find a way to do more of it.
- Write down what you loved most about today.
- Write down three cool things that happened today.
- Write down three things you are grateful for today.
- Write down any negative emotions you experienced: What were they? What bought them on? How long did they last? How did you get over it?
- Rate your mood for the day using a scale of 1 (the pits) to 10 (total awesomeness) and a few accompanying words as to why you felt that way.
What's your favourite go-to stress busting strategy?
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