Robin Reynolds on Managing Stress
is a topic near and dear to me.
As an undergrad with a degree in Psychology and a graduate degree in Mental Health Counseling, my studies included emphasis upon the importance of self-care and the detrimental effects that may result if we do not properly manage the stressors that impact our daily lives.
Stress is an inevitable part of our lives.
It’s in our work, it’s in our home, in the news, in our relationships and even on social media.
By equipping ourselves with a variety of ways to
manage stress, we will be in a better position to
Managing stress is not an impossible task, but it does require that we plan, prepare, and take actions that maybe we normally wouldn’t. While some actions may feel awkward at first, or require that we step outside our comfort zones, in time, they will no longer feel like tasks to manage stress but rather, part of our lifestyle. Below, I’ve shared 10 simple ways that have helped me manage stress, and I hope they will be helpful to you, too.
1) Remove unnecessary stressors.
When you feel stress, ask yourself if what is making you feel this way is really worth it in the end. For example, I used to monitor the prices at gas stations to find the location that had the lowest price to fill-up my car. Sometimes the station with the lowest price was in an inconvenient location, other times when I arrived I had to wait in long lines or I would fill up my tank only to discover the next morning the price dropped. It was during one of the longer than normal wait times that I did the math and realized I was only gaining some pocket change in savings. Was all this agonizing worth having an extra dollar in my pocket? It wasn’t, and I haven’t watched the gas prices since.
2) Partake in quick, easy exercises to remove tension when it arises.
When tension begins to rise, rapidly rub the palms of your hands together until you feel heat, place your warm palms over your closed eyes, breathe deeply and exhale slowly.
3) Give yourself permission to remove yourself from situations that result in stress.
If you cannot remove yourself entirely from a situation that causes you stress, go in with a plan and set boundaries. We all have scenarios where we’re obligated to make an appearance. When these events occur, simply accept the invitation with regret that you can only stay for one hour and stick to it. Endure the hour as best you can, and politely remove yourself from any conversations that make you uncomfortable. You will be at peace for having met the obligation, and you can use the remainder of your day focusing on things that are more beneficial to you. Don’t forget to wear a watch!
4) Try to adopt a positive attitude whenever possible.
I know, it’s not always possible. But when you can’t “think positive,” at least “think possible!” Consider the possibility that what is stressing you may not even happen.
5) Embrace technology!
There are a variety of ways retailers are making our lives easier and less stressful. Download apps that allow you to order takeout online so that you can skip the line or drive-through at the restaurant, shop at retailers where you can select your groceries online and have them loaded straight into your car at a designated time or opt to participate in a retailer’s re-stock service that delivers the items you need within hours or next day. For example, I recently had a non-emergency medical condition that I wanted to consult with a doctor about, but I was stressed not knowing how I could accommodate the appointment with my work schedule. I discovered an app through my medical insurance provider that connected me to a medical professional via the webcam on my tablet. Within minutes, I was able to speak to a physician, receive a prescription and have it filled at my local pharmacy without even having to leave my office.
6) Surround yourself more with people who inspire you, who make you feel loved, who make you laugh, whose company you enjoy.
Surround yourself less with people who complain, who have a negative mindset or have difficulty in appreciating the little things that make life grand. Engaging in Laurie Felt’s Heartfelt Community is an excellent place to start!
7) Fill your space with photos of happy times.
Print and frame your digital images to remind you you’re not alone — and reminisce. If you don’t have them, take the time to photograph happy moments as they occur, or ask friend and family for duplicates.
8) Fill your days with simple pleasures that positively affect the senses
Create a playlist of songs that trigger happy memories, or listen to music from a certain era of time that brings you joy. Keep the playlist on repeat throughout the day. Podcasts and audiobooks are also a great way to learn something new and pass the time.
I often pack a lunch to eat at work, but instead of eating the meal as I’ve packed it, I first place it in a beautiful bowl, plate and matching silverware. There’s something about eating a meal from a beautiful table setting that makes it special – even if it was cooked right out of the workplace microwave!
Great lighting can make anyone feel good! Use lamps in lieu of harsh ceiling lights, install dimmer switches, plug in beautiful night lights that emit a soft glow.
Fill your space with your favorites scents. Begin the day with a body wash of a favorite fragrance (add a cap of body oil, your skin will feel amazing!), place a freshener in your car, keep a favorite lotion nearby and re-apply throughout the day, use timers whenever possible so that you can come home to the scent of your favorite fragrance or your favorite meal ready to serve out of the crock pot.
Donate any clothing that doesn’t make you feel as great on the inside as it looks on the outside. Properly fitting undergarments, shoes that don’t create blisters or cause your feet to ache can positively impact your day. Be mindful of the fabrics and textures that feel great against your skin and begin incorporating more of them into your wardrobe. I highly recommend Laurie Felt’s Cashmere Blend Hoodie Sweater with Seam Detail (A301689)! This sweater is the perfect weight in luxurious fabric and is so incredibly soft you can’t help but to hug yourself throughout the day while you’re wearing it.
9) Practice mindfulness.
In the midst of a stressful moment, critical thoughts or worry, focus intensely on the immediate moment at hand. Feel the sunshine on your face. Feel the cool breeze from the fan. Listen to the song playing on the radio. Acknowledge what you’re feeling, but immediately follow it with “…but in this moment I….” and complete the sentence with what you appreciate about the immediate moment at hand and focus on it.
10) Adopt a new perspective.
We can give in to the stress of the day, or we can choose a different perspective. If there’s still time left in the day, there is time to rewrite the narrative of the day to something positive. When a job that I loved was taking too much of a toll on my personal well-being, I had to make the heartbreaking decision to quit. When I submitted my letter of resignation, I refused to let that day be known as the day I had to leave behind something I loved. Instead, I enrolled in college to pursue a Master’s degree. From that point forward, the day was no longer the day I had to quit my job, but it became the day I chose to pursue a Master’s degree. When you have a day when nothing seems to be going your way — and we all have them — stop what you’re doing and switch gears. Do not let the day close with the label of a “bad day,” let it close with the label of, “The day I….(fill in the blank i.e. re-connected with an old friend, learned something new, created a craft, finally organized my closet, etc.)…”