Stuck in Stress? Action steps to take RIGHT NOW to get it under control.
“What are you doing to manage and reduce your stress?” my doctor asked.
“Yoga,” I lied. Probably one of the most humiliating moments of my life – when I realized I was the stressed out yoga teacher. And while I was practicing yoga consistently, I wasn’t using it to manage my stress. (Not all yoga is relaxing, we’ll get to this topic on another day).
We’ve all been there. We’ve all gotten to the point of overwhelm with our busy lives, tense and tight muscles that cause physical distress, and the ongoing negative chatter in our monkey mind. It’s part of being human. Even the people with all the relaxation and stress-reduction tools can fall into the overwhelm trap (I say this from experience!)
I want to go deeply into this over the next month or so – how stress management is a practice, and not a one-time thing. And we’ll talk about some things we can do consistently to acknowledge and reduce it. But first, here are a couple of quick ideas for when you need to stop overwhelm in its tracks NOW.
Step 1: Be totally OK with it. We’re not perfect, and nobody asked us to be (except maybe ourselves, right?). It’s a part of our human experience. Just acknowledge that you’ve let it get this far, and put yourself in check! Forgive yourself first, and then take action.
Step 2: Be grateful and appreciative. We all have junky days sometimes, but there are always blessings to count. Think of 10 things NOW that you are grateful for. (Don’t you feel better already?) **My husband always keeps me in check by asking “do you have a roof over your head, food in your belly, shoes on your feet?” I’m like… Oh yeah, good point :)
Other optional things that are super easy and will seriously help:
Cut out sugar. Sugar is a stress monster and it doesn’t help. The more crap you eat, the worse you will feel, and the more stressed you will be. Food, and particularly sugar, is something we crave during a stress mess. Even though it’s so hard (believe me, this is one of my major pitfalls!!) just say no. If you really want to feel awesome, eat super clean and make sure you have veggies with every meal!! And don’t forget the H2O.
Speaking of saying no, don’t feel obligated to do everything on your social calendar or to-do list. I’m a firm believer in being super productive and reaching full potential with goals, etc. but sometimes we just need to give ourselves the gift of not being everywhere and everything to everyone at once. If you’ve seriously had a day, go home and baby yourself just once! You’d do it for someone else, right?
Lighten your load (literally). My doctor actually suggested this to me… carrying an enormous bag full of stuff we’re not going to use that day puts a TON of stress on the body (neck and shoulders, in particular, where a lot of us hold physical tension!) Forget the tote and grab your wristlet instead for today. You’ll feel “lighter” and you’ll probably realize how much stuff you DON’T need to have with you at all times. Your neck and back will thank you :)
Do ONE yoga pose. One pose every day is more effective than 7 poses one day a week. During a period of stress and overwhelm, it can actually be more stressful to think about and try to execute a full hour of yoga or other fitness. Do a forward bend and gradually lengthen your exhales. Go for a 5-minute walk. Every tiny bit helps. Again, this is not about being perfect or the best, it’s about catching your stress in its tracks and taking small steps to nip it!
I hope this gives you some ideas. I want to seriously dive into stress management, but sometimes it’s a stress emergency, so these are a few things I’ve found can help. If you have questions, please let me know in the comments! I’d love to hear other ways you love to stop your stress in its tracks!