I don’t know anyone who doesn’t experience stress from time to time, and for some people, hard-core stress has become a part of their daily lives. A lot of us have just accepted that we’re super stressed out and that’s the way it has to be. But I’m here to tell you that that’s a myth! Can you avoid stress for the rest of your life? Absolutely not. But can you reduce your stress, and more importantly, change the way you REACT to your stress? Absolutely!
Here are 3 tips to help you manage your stress levels. They may seem like small steps, but I promise you: if practiced regularly, these tools can help you reduce your stress, feel more inner peace, and feel more balanced and energized overall.
Tip #1) Stress doesn’t happen to us because of other people, other events, or outside circumstances. At this point lot of people are thinking I’m crazy here, but let me explain: Stress is just your REACTION to a situation, person, or event, and we have a choice whether or not we want to feel stressed. There might be people reading this who find that to be a frustrating statement, and I used to feel that way too. It was difficult for me to accept that I was creating my own stress! But the more I started practicing this way of thinking, it was actually extremely empowering. Just because a situation has stressed us out in the past, that doesn’t mean we have to choose to be stressed about it going forward.
Tip #2) If we truly have a choice about feeling stressed, than why don’t we just choose NOT to feel stressed? The truth is that we don’t always want to get rid of our stress, even though we say we do or think we do! You might not like the physical feeling of stress in our bodies or feeling wiped out, but you may like what stress gets you. In our society, stress is like a badge of honor. We think, “the more stressed I am, the more successful I am.” If we’re not stressed enough, someone might think we’re not working hard enough or we’re not pushing ourselves hard enough. And since practically everyone in society is stressed, being stressed helps us fit in a way. So the first step is taking a look at all of the stress in your life, and asking yourself if it’s serving you in some way. It can feel familiar and comfortable to be stressed, and sometimes we’re not even sure who we’d be without our stress!
Tip #3) You don’t have to get into a super relaxed, zen state to manage your stress. So often we think, “If I just did more yoga, I’d be less stressed!” Or, “If I just finished this to-do list, I’d be less stressed!” The truth is that if you are alive, you are likely to have stress sometimes, and the trick is to learn how to respond to the stress – not eliminate it. The easiest way to do that is to practice getting bringing yourself back to the present moment. The voices in our head are always clamoring for us to focus on what happened to us in the past or what’s going to happen to us in the future. Bringing yourself back to the present moment is one a way to silence those voices – even just for a few seconds – so that we can feel more at peace. One of the easiest ways to come back to this very moment is to breathe. Focusing on our breath shuts off the voices and lets us relax. Try a simple breathing exercise for a count of slow 4 on your inhale, holding your breath for a slow count of 5, and releasing your breath for a slow count of 6. Repeat several times, and notice the physical difference in your body. Use this exercise whenever you physically feel stress taking over your body. It’s a simple practice that can have big results.