already overwhelmed. I’m finding that it’s imperative to notice when stress starts to build up, so you can do something about it before it spirals out of control.
Stress is not a one-size fits all experience. Some things may stress you that do not stress others and vice versa. Some friends are talking to me about job losses, money problems, and fewer clients, tenants, or customers. Some are telling me about the stress that comes with a health issue that caught them unaware, while others are talking about the rapid increase of pressure that can come with success.
Whatever the conditions of your life, it’s important to remember that your internal response to stressful situations is what can make a difference in your performance day today.
The idea is to notice when stress starts to build. Your first clues may be when someone says, “Are you OK?” or you notice that people are avoiding you because your words are dripping with tension and pressure. Anyone can have a chaotic, problem-filled day, but escalating stress isn’t going to make the situation any easier. It wasn’t until I left the 24/7-work cycle of corporate life that I realized that stress relief is more than just taking a day off.
When you start to feel the pressure building, use these seven simple practices to de-stress your life.
1) Be present. You can’t be anywhere else, but if you try, through wishing, fantasy, or worry, you may find you ignore the urgency of now. Engage with the issue. Give your attention to what is in front of you. Being present is the magic in the creative process, where instead of focusing only on what’s wrong, you can see what’s possible and what’s new.
2) Slow down and breathe. Focus entirely on just one inhalation and exhalation. Do it now. Only one time slowly, and notice your shoulders move to their normal position instead of up around your ears. Slow down. You’re rarely dealing with a real emergency. Sleep on your decisions and ask for help if you need it.
3) Add something beautiful to your space. I add flowers, light one candle, play music, or put an uplifting message on my desk. It’s purifying and reminds you of what’s possible through simple actions.
4) Send a message of love to someone. It’s so easy to send a card, a note, or an email; or even make a call. It will remind you that you are connected and not alone.
5) Exercise. A Harvard MD recently said that if exercise were in pill form, everyone would take it! Do something every day. You will build stamina and replace stressful energy with focused energy.
6) Clean up your space. Do your filing, clean off your desk, clean out your closet. Unpack your suitcase. It will remind you that you are in charge of your space. I de-clutter my office every other Monday. Some people do it every day. Decide what works for you and then do it regularly and notice what it feels like to have free space. For me, it’s the space to create.
7) Make time for a pleasurable activity. Run, garden, play music, do yoga, have coffee, or take an online class. Or take a walk and breathe in a spirit of generosity and gratitude.
These seven practices will help you reduce stress and restore balance. They will help you develop an inner awareness that encourages skillful action. Relaxation is not a passive state. It means to become less tense, tired, distracted, or anxious; and increases your ability to be calm, present, engaged, and confident.
Use these seven practices to de-stress your life, and you will find that the results are immediate. Let me know what you discover.
May your day be peaceful and productive.
Paulette Sun Davis