Stress is a natural feeling that is innately given to us when we’re born. We feel stress as part of our fight-or-flight safety response as humans. It’s what keeps us alive, but not knowing how to handle it can cause problems.
One of life’s tenable truths is that we will all face stress. Sometimes, this comes at us in small waves that we manage without thinking about them. Other times, it’s storm season and the waves are rough.
Regardless of what kind of stress you’re facing, if you feel yourself becoming overwhelmed, it’s time to step back and regroup. These five strategies can help you keep your cool when the urge to lose it gets a little too tempting!
1. Find a Quiet Place
We’re often taught that retreating from an argument is a sign of weakness. In truth, it’s the bravest thing you can do.
If you can walk away from a stressful environment, do so.
Find a quiet place where you can avoid external influences. In this place, use relaxation techniques to destress.
Breathe deeply, meditate, or even take a nap. Do whatever it takes to lower your boiling point until you can handle the stressor with less emotion.
2. Look for Laughter
The Disney·Pixar movie Monsters, Inc. was on the money when they used the theme that laughter is more powerful than fear. Laughing is also a significant way to decrease stress levels.
Scientific studies show that laughter really can be the best medicine. It evokes physiological responses in your body that reduce stress both in the short- and long-term.
Once you start laughing, you immediately get more oxygen into your brain. This stimulates your circulatory system and releases endorphins, or “feel-good hormones” in your brain.
Your fight-or-flight stress response goes into a relaxed state. Your blood pressure lowers, and you automatically feel less tense.
Long-term benefits of regular laughter are seen in your body’s immune system. You have an overall better mood and quality of life when you laugh more, and this all reflects on your health.
What, or who, do you turn to when you need a good belly laugh? Pick up the phone and call the friend you can always rely on to lift your mood. Watch your favorite comedy show or movie.
3. Work Off the Stress
Getting physical is another highly recommended way to relieve stress. Many medical and mental health experts actually say that exercise is the most underrated, yet important, stress-relief method available!
It sounds like a contradictory statement: To relax, you should get active. But it’s true! Aerobic exercise of any kind is good for your mental and physical health.
Regular activity increases your metabolism and your body’s ability to handle stress. The hormones that are released during exercise stimulate your organs to work better. At the same time, they calm your mind from external and internal stressors.
When you find yourself feeling overwhelmed or upset, the best outlet may be to get moving. Find a way to exercise, take a walk, or head outside and explore nature until you feel relaxed again. Then, tackle the issue with a calmer mind.
4. Elevate Your Senses
Your stress level is high when your brain feels under attack by too much pressure. When you use your senses specifically to calm your mind down, it has a powerful effect.
Have you ever walked into a room and a smell hit you just the right way to trigger a memory? Or heard a song that transported you back in time to another event?
Our senses have a way of triggering emotions. Because of this, when you’re upset, you should take a step back and think about what you see, hear, smell, feel, and taste. Is something upsetting you? Is there a way you can use your senses to reduce your stress?
Turn on some classical music or slow jazz if you can. Then, light a candle or use aromatherapy to elevate your senses.
Certain smells are thought to be soothing, such as:
Your calming scent could be the one that reminds you of your favorite memories. Whatever you notice makes you feel good, use that smell as a crutch until your mind is clear.
5. Turn to Writing
Psychologists often use the journaling or “Dear Me” method of therapy. Writing can be a cathartic release of pent-up emotions.
One reason this technique works so well is that it gives us the feeling of control over our thoughts. But, there are many other reasons why this simple technique is used in therapy around the world.
Even if you’ve never been a “writer” before, grab a pen and paper and head to a quiet place.
Purge your thoughts on paper as fast as you can without thinking. There’s no way to do it wrong. You might find you prefer a journal-type entry or that your chaotic thoughts find peace in poetry.
For those who prefer an electronic medium, try a site like Penzu. You can create a secure account for free and access your journal anywhere when you need to calm your mind.
When you feel like you’re about to lose your cool, take some time to regroup and review these coping strategies.
The few minutes you use to cool down are worth it if they prevent you from dealing with the consequences of letting your stress boil over!
Angus Flynn is the Business Manager for Broadstone Axis. With over five years of experience in the multifamily housing industry, he is one of the most dedicated managers in his field. He loves to help others and takes great pride in working in a community that so many love to call home.