I was at a shoot the other day and the joke was to avoid having a conversation in which the dreaded "E (economy) word or "R" (recession) word was mentioned. There’s no doubt that the effects of the E and the R are taking their toll on everyone in various ways.
So many of the things going on around us are in fact out of our control, and that’s why it’s imperative to figure out simple ways to minimize the feeling and impact of stress. In this day and age of 24-hour inundations (computer, phone, online, TV, Twitter) it’s difficult to clear the decks and get our stress meters back down to a zero starting point.
Oftentimes, it feels like a compounding situation that makes your head so tight it just might explode. There is no cure all, but there certainly are tiny things you can do to lower your stress levels.
1. Just say no. Just because there is an empty slot of time on your calendar does not mean you need to schedule something there. Open up your days when you can, and cut down all of the unnecessary activities.
2.Try to relax. Notice the tension you’re feeling when something stressful is happening and attempt to breathe deeply. Physical and emotional responses feed off of each other. So in an emotionally challenging situation, if you can stay more physically relaxed, you will notice that it’s easier to remain calm.
3. Solve little problems. Rather than getting lost under a pile of problems with no immediate resolutions, try to solve as many of the little issues as you can. You won’t feel as overwhelmed by everything, and it creates an opportunity to cross things off of your list.
4. Be realistic. Life is not perfect and neither are we humans. Why do we walk around trying to do everything perfectly? Set realistic goals and stop beating yourself up.
5. Work hard to keep an optimistic outlook. It really is a discipline to decide how you are going to look at a situation. By staying optimistic you can minimize your stress level immensely. I find it gets easier and easier to be optimistic the more you practice having the right attitude.
6. Sleep. Sleep deprivation can keep you from being able to react with a clear mind. Rest is key to staying positive and processing stressful situations better.
7. Attack things one at a time (when it’s possible). I realize in this day and age of multi-tasking that this can be hard. But in an attempt to not feel overwhelmed, try to do things one at a time. It can be confusing to have five things going on at once. So focus on beginning a thought or task and then taking it to completion.
8. Talk to someone. If you are feeling really overloaded or depressed, go talk to a trained expert. There is absolutely nothing wrong with getting an outside perspective or heading to a place where you know you can blow off some steam.
9. Avoid stressful situations. If you don’t like crowded places or competitive sports environments, then don’t put yourself in that situation. Plan ahead to avoid getting trapped in situations that you know you dread and that cause you stress.
10. Get into nature. Go outside and connect with nature or play with a pet. Doing activities in nature and with pets has a very grounding and de-stressing affect on us.
11. Be thankful. It might sound cliche, but remembering to be thankful for everyday things and forgetting about what you don’t have is a powerful neutralizer. As soon as you wake up, and throughout your day, make mental notes of all of the gifts in your life and the people you are grateful for.
12. Don’t forget diet and exercise. Eat healthy and move. These are two of my favorite ways to keep stress at bay.
13. Don’t stress out about decreasing stress. I love it when people are aggressively pursuing ways to decrease stress. Just think: Serenity now!