I am a very odd person.
I can feel physically bothered to my very core from seeing dust around my house. I feel anxiety when plans are not set in stone. My stress manipulates itself in my stomach, causing nervous belly aches when I hear a ‘mouth smacking’ noise. However, with all of my annoyingly peculiar triggers that instigate huge amounts of internal stress, I am the calming force among anyone around me. See, I told you, I am odd.
I have always been the go-to person of my family and friends in moments of crisis and tension because, although I may not personally have it all together, I excel and comforting others and making them view situations differently. Even as a child, I prided myself on my optimism and positivity, which sometimes bothered my parents. See, if I was being scolded and sent to my room, I would go with a smile on my face and find something to play with in there. As I’ve matured, I have learned to use my positive energy to help people in my life de-stress and want to share some tips on how to calm yourself at the moment of crisis.
11 Ways to Combat Stress Right Now
When crisis strikes
We have all been there before; something happens to stress you out, and you’re flooded with emotions, making you feel extremely tense and uneasy. Actually, this ‘emotion’ is the hormone cortisol, which gets triggered by stress, producing a ‘fight or flight’ response. The result? Your heart pounds faster; you breathe heavily; you may start to feel dizzy because of this. Here are some strategies you can use when you’re in this moment of stress.
Take a breather: when we’re babies, we know the healthiest, best way to breath: from your belly. As we grow up, we tend to breathe shallower breaths from our chest, especially when we’re stressed. How can you tell how you’re breathing? Put your hand on your lower abdomen and over your heart. Which one moves when you breathe? When you’re in a moment of tension or worry, close your eyes, and slowly, consciously breathe in through your nose, counting slowly to 5, then out, slowly, counting to 10, making sure to breathe with your abdomen moving.
Slowing your breathing will decrease your heart rate and blood pressure, allowing you to calm down. Even if your worries are still present, you will alleviate the physical symptoms causing you to feel overwhelmed.
Repeat a mantra: as you’re breathing, it helps to repeat a positive, reassuring mantra, such as, “it’s okay, everything is okay,” “this will pass, I am fine, this will pass,” or “I will get through this, I am strong, I will get through this.” It might sound silly, but positive affirmations can do wonders, especially when put to practice repeatedly with other interventions.
Take a walk: taking a walk outside is best, but even if you can take a 5-10 minute walk around the house or office, you will boost endorphins and lower the cortisol that’s making you feel tense. You’ll have time to clear your head and feel distracted as you move your body. The title picture on this post was from a walk by the lake a few summers ago. Getting some fresh air and having some time in nature, even for a short walk away from your desk, will do wonders.
Eat a healthy snack: does anyone else turn into a cranky lunatic when they’re over hungry? It’s not just me, right? Sometimes all you need is to fill your belly with someone healthy to get you over that stressed-out hump. I always keep a bar of dark chocolate at home and at school for these emergencies – try limiting yourself to one or two pieces though. Other healthy snacks that can boost your mood include half an avocado, a hard boiled egg, an apple or banana with peanut butter, a spoonful of Nutella on wheat crackers, string cheese, and grapefruit with a drizzle of honey. My mood is improving just thinking about these tasty treats!
Take a break from technology: do you work on the computer often? Take a break from the computer and your phone. The light emitted from screens can cause headaches and stress, not to mention it can mess with your sleep cycle and increase depression. (Go ahead – you can tell that to your boss when you’re taking a ten minute break.) Additionally, wind your brain and eyes down by putting away your computer and phone at least an hour before bed, and opt for a healthy nighttime routine of tea, reading, praying, and /or stretching.
…except to phone a friend: when I’m in crisis mode, it always helps to talk about it. When you can’t speak to your best friend face-to-face, call her or him and let everything off your chest. When we bottle up emotions because we don’t want to bother others or sound like we’re complaining, the pressure builds and inevitably will cause a greater explosion than if you addressed the problem on the spot.
Listen to music: ah, the sweet power of music. You know that feeling when you find an old CD and all the songs are 10-years- old and totally on-point? Music is a powerful tool in boosting your mood, so whether you choose soothing classical tunes or old high school favorites, you can benefit from a slower heart rate and lowered blood pressure because of the flood of happy brain juices, like dopamine (yes, happy brain juice is a technical term – I don’t expect you to understand).
Laugh: easier said than done, right? When you’re in a stressed out mood, it can be hard to come out of it. Check out a hilarious viral video, search for internet pranks, or a foolproof internet search is cute/funny babies. You could always check out my personal Pinterest account, which I find to be the epitome of hilarity. (Here’s It’s Simply Lindsay’s page as well.)
Show thanks: get outside your stressed bubble and show thanks to someone. As a teacher, it can frustrate me when students perform poorly on tests or essays that I spent so much time and effort on. To get out of that upset/irritated state, I’ll email certain parents to tell them something kind about their sons and daughters. I instantly feel better after redirecting my negative energy into something positive, and I look forward to parents receiving such an email.
Get inspired: buy a calendar that gives you daily inspiration, either from motivating quotes or prayers. By taking a few minutes to focus on that inspiration and reflect upon it, you will momentarily detach from your current problem and put your attention towards something that matters more in the grand scheme of things.
Message me! If all else fails, I am here for you. Feel free to message me in your moment of stress for some positive words of encouragement. I have helped family and friends through very rough times, and I am happy to spread the love your way.