Stress has a bad rap – and for good reason. Trying to avoid it or reduce it though, can be like one of those Chinese tortures where the more you try to wriggle free the tighter it wraps itself around you!
Stress is a reaction to too many demands on our time, or overwhelm of some kind. The key to freeing yourself from it is hidden in plain sight in my previous sentence, however.
It’s a reaction to circumstances. You can’t usually control the situation, but you can always choose how you react!
You see? Stress comes from trying to control everything when there are simply too many things to control.
Stop trying to do that and the stress will evaporate!
Here are three effective ways to do that. (Feel free to come up with more of your own.)
(1) Separate your emotional reaction from the situation.
Find three minutes for this. (You have to use the bathroom sometime, don’t you?)
Sit quietly and close your eyes. Now, pay attention to your feelings about whatever is going on.
Let them become intense and then, on a zero to ten scale, (ten being unbearable), grade them.
Now, mentally put those feelings to one side and cast your mind over the facts of the situation.
You know: the boss wants that report yesterday, the kids’ birthday party won’t organize itself, and your bathroom is flooded. Those are facts. Just watch them impartially, as if you were making a documentary about someone else’s life.
Take a moment or two and get curious about what your mind will do next, and simply observe your thoughts the way you’d idly watch fluffy clouds float across a summer sky.
Now, go back and check your emotions again. Miraculously, they will have dissolved or at least reduced! Of course, the situation will still be there, but you’ll find yourself breezing through.
Seriously, read this again and follow exactly what I have described the next time you’re feeling overwhelmed or stressed. Because it works!
(2) Change your inner monologue.
If you pay attention, you’ll catch yourself mentally saying things such as: “I can’t cope. I’ll never get through this. It’s all falling apart,” or similar unresourceful sentiments.
Those messages won’t help you get through.
Instead, tell yourself, “This too will pass. If I break this down into bite-sized chunks I can easily do it. I’ve coped with worse. Someday I’ll look back on this and laugh – so I might as well start now!”