Guest Blog: Simple tools to manage stress
I spent most of my life addicted to stress. I viewed stress as an accomplishment. The more stressed I was the more I was. Stress was synonymous with success. Stress is what fueled me to stay up when I was exhausted. Stress allowed me to take on one more project when my plate was already full. Stress motivated. Stress kept me one step ahead. Stress pushed. Stress was my secret to success. Stress was who I was. Stress was courageous. Only the truly brave and dedicated could thrive under so much stress. (Go me!)
A few years ago I suddenly realized that I was not thriving but instead drowning under a sea of stress.
Stress is not an accomplishment. It is not a motivator. It is not your friend. And it certainly doesn’t equal success.
Stress hurts. Literally. Stress wreaks havoc on you physically and emotionally. It creates inflammation in your body. Stress taxes your heart. It sends your adrenal glands into overdrive pumping out massive amounts of cortisol and adrenaline to keep you stuck in fight or flight mode. Stress lowers your immunity. It impacts your memory, energy, sex drive, and sleep. Stress impacts your food choices. It prompts you to lash out at your loved ones.
Letting go of stress isn’t as easy as just deciding but is starts there. Stress is ingrained in our bodies and we need to be patient while we retrain our bodies and minds. It is about taking a series of little right actions. One tiny thought, action, reaction, or practice becomes two become three becomes a life of managing stress with ease. Here are my strategies for leaving stress in the dust:
1. Acknowledge that stress is a part of life
It’s not about stopping the world around us but about how quickly we can reach for our tools. Stress is going to happen. Probably daily. Someone is going to cut you off in traffic, your partner is going to push your buttons, work is going to overwhelm you, finances are going to be challenging. Stress is not the problem, our response is the problem. Stop trying to fight the stress and learn, instead, how manage it.
Our breath is our number one tool when managing stress. I challenge you to check-in with your breathing the next time you’re feeling stressed, overwhelmed, or frustrated. It’s likely that you are tensed up and holding your breath. This keeps us stuck in the stress. We can dissolve stress simply by breathing. Try this simple one minute breath the next time you are feeling stress:
- Close your eyes
- Breathe in (through your nose) for five seconds
- Hold your breath for five seconds
- Breathe out (through your nose) for five seconds
- Hold for five seconds
- Repeat this pattern for one minute
3. Cultivate peace
Dwell in peace as often as possible. The stronger your connection to peace and ease, the less time you’ll spend in stress-mode. Peace will become your permanent address. Fill your home, car and office with images and items that make you feel peaceful – crystals, flowers, photos, quotes, artwork, etc. Spend more time at peace – meditate, journal, go to yoga. Get in the habit of squashing stress with peace:
- Press your thumb to your pointer finger and say PEACE
- Press your thumb to your middle finger and say BEGINS
- Press your thumb to your ring finger and say WITH
- Press your thumb to you pinkie and day ME
- Breathe deeply as you go and continue to recite PEACE BEGINS WITH ME for 1-3 minutes.
4. Be grateful
Like attracts like. The more stressed you are, the more stressed you will be. The more gratitude you feel the more you will have to be grateful for. Start a daily gratitude practice. Every night before bed write out 5-10 things that you are grateful for and why. Post your gratitude lists on social media to inspire others to feel grateful.
Bonus tool: Snap out of it
Wear a rubber band around your wrist. The next time you feel yourself going to crazytown snap the rubber band. It’s jarring and it’s meant to be! Keep at it and you will begin to train your mind to stop before you get all the way to crazytown.
Are you ready break up with stress and move through life with more ease? Request a free consultation and I’ll let stress know that you’re just not that into them.
Stephanie is a holistic health coach at Spirited Well-being. She merges spiritual principles with practical wellness strategies to empower women to lose emotional weight and gain healthy habits. Stephanie has completed the Spirit Junkie Master Class Level One and Two training with Gabrielle Bernstein and graduated from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition.