Anyone else’s inbox getting busier and busier? It’s like a never-ending stream of stuff you know you have to do before you even look at your task list! Stress can be a little creeper, coming into your life without you even realising it.
Managing stress is the key to keep more serious affects of stress at bay. We all know that stress isn’t good for our health and can lead to a multitude of conditions. Stress can quite literally kill us so learning to manage it as soon as you can, will reap huge benefits on your life as well as those around you.
I’ve put together 10 easy tips to manage stress that you can do anywhere which you can print out and keep by your most stress-inducing places – usually the office!
- GO ON HOLIDAY – Close your eyes. Think of a wonderful holiday destination you’ve been to or seen photos of. Imagine being there and sensing the surroundings; how does it feel and smell, how is the sensation on your skin? Live the view and the atmosphere with your whole being. Take this holiday for 5-10 minutes. Travelling in these wonderful thoughts reduces stressful feelings.
- RELAX YOUR HEAD AREA – Close your eyes. Relax the entire area around your head one part at a time: ears, jaw, teeth, cheeks, chin, mouth, tongue, nose, eyes, forehead and scalp. Relax your face totally for a few minutes. If it feels difficult, make a big wide grin and then relax your face. Stress often produces pressure around the head. With the relaxation of these “thinking centres”, you will feel more relaxed and nicer.
- HUG, TOUCH OR BE GENTLE – Hug and touch other people as often as possible. If not physically, you can be gentle to others with words and actions: bring gentleness and concentration to your speech, ask people how they are (and listen) and sprinkle good and encouraging words into your sentences. Physical touch and touching words produce oxytocin, which reduces anxiety and fear, the basic elements of stress.
- THANK YOURSELF FOR WHAT YOU DO – During your workday, write down on small notes all those things that you finish during the day. You can collect the notes in a glass jar on your bedside table at home. Write down even the smallest of things. When you go to bed, have a look at what you’ve written and thank yourself for even the small things you’ve done. Instead of thinking about all the unfinished things at work, pay attention to the stuff you’ve done. Gratefulness induces positive feelings, which in turn adds motivation to activity.
- NAME YOUR FEELINGS – Close your eyes. Let you mind wander in the different parts of your body and feel how it feels right now. What thoughts are going on in your head? Observe, don’t analyse. When you are connected to how your body feels, ask yourself: what is this feeling called? Observe the feeling in peace and name it. You can also ask yourself, if there is a feeling behind the first one. By recognising and naming your feelings you will start to feel ease from the lump of stress you might have had in your body.
- BREAK A ROUTINE – Choose an action you know how to do, something you do often, like going to the shop or going home from work. Instead of doing it like you always do it, change one part of it. Breaking a routine like this will inspire a so called “beginner’s mind”: the mind will awaken to observe and sense normal things as new and wondrous. With this there will be a feeling of presence, which reduces stress.
- BREATHE 10 TIMES – Close your eyes. Breathe ten times in and out – concentrate. Imagine when you breathe in that it reaches all the way to your pelvis and lifts up your abdomen. When breathing out, let the air come all the way from the lower abdomen and pelvis. Do this ten times slowly. You can also count the times in your mind. Stress makes us breathe shallowly, with our diaphragm and only the chest and top part of our lungs. This way the body isn’t getting enough oxygen and it is tense, which affects our personal strength.
- EAT SLOWLY – When you eat or drink, do it with concentration. Taste the food in your mouth. Does it have a special taste that you can only feel with one part of your mouth? Chew slowly and when you swallow, try to feel how the food goes down. Give all your attention to the process. Eating peacefully and concentrating on it will help you be more present, which in turn reduces stress. If you concentrate on your eating, you will notice more easily the amounts and quality of food your body needs.
- MEDITATE IN THE LOO – When you use the bathroom, leave your thoughts outside. They will be waiting there when you get back. In the bathroom, take time to breath deep breaths and, if possible, close your eyes for a while. When you wash your hands, do it with nice warm water; wash them thoroughly and let the water flow. If you get a thought, throw it to the other side of the door and tell it to wait there. During these little, repetitive breaks you get a break from your thoughts. Concentrating on the present moment will ease your mind and body.
- CONCENTRATE ON ONE THING – The next time you start doing something, concentrate on one thing at a time. At first, you can make a to-do list and think about it, but when you choose one thing on that list, forget about everything else. Whenever you start thinking about something else, just move the thoughts aside and focus all your attention to what you are doing now. When you can get rid of all the other thoughts, the doing will give you the rest.