It is so hard for us to control our stress levels - they are a natural response to the outside world. Some circumstances are simply beyond our control, making coping hard to do. Fortunately, you do have control over how you react to situations. Learning good healthy responses is a great place to start.
Staying calm, eating right and being willing to accept whatever support you already have from others can help you manage stress.
1. Take a deep breath: It is a fact that oxygen calms the mind beyond belief. While you are taking these deep breaths in a stressful moment know that while you may indeed be missing a lot of things from your life (who doesn’t feel that?!), you undoubtedly have a few very magical people, things, creatures or talents too. What you have is far more important than what you don't have, so start with that in mind and remember to breathe.
2. Eat for a good mood: When you need an energy boost or mood elevation, reach for complex carbs such as whole-grain breads, cereals and starchy vegetables such as potatoes and corn. These increase the production of serotonin, a key mood-enhancing chemical in your brain. In the skin of potatoes you will find B12 too, another great supplement that decreases stress and depression. Eating more red meats and dark leafy greens will also increase your B12 intake. Omega-3 fats found in flax seed, avocado, salmon and other fish are great for reducing stress and lowering depression levels so increase your intake of these yummy foods (your cholesterol will even out also giving you a happy heart bonus).
3. Move: The more you exercise the calmer and happier you generally feel - this is the effect of endorphins. It also burns off excess energy that stress hormones can create in a very productive way. The more routine your exercise routine is (3 times a week, twice a week etc) the more beneficial it will be towards your ability to stay calm. At our office we have a mid-week yoga class in the office, everyone leaves feeling like a new week has begun, making us ultimately better at our jobs and more motivated.
4. Do it for you: Meditating, reading a book, biting into an apple and finding 5 minutes to have "me" time each day is fantastic way of calming yourself down and providing the replenishment you need. And don’t stop there. Maybe three times a year you get a full body massage for no reason except that you deserve it. Maybe you go on retreat once a year, maybe you hike once a month or go for a stroll on the beach early every Sunday morning... you get the idea. The point is alone time is invigorating and replenishing, especially if it is spent doing something that benefits your body and mind.
5. Sleep on it: Your body heals while it sleeps and stress is something your body needs to heal from. Chamomile, Valerian and Holy Basil (often called tulsi) teas are great at calming the body and mind - sip on one of these before bed and get a good night’s rest. Alternatively, if you are having a wild and stressful day - grab a cup of one of these teas and sit for 5 minutes. The break will do you good and the tea will calm your nervous system so that you can regain your productivity and feel refreshed. Your herbalist can help you find the good stuff, but otherwise your local coffee house and grocery stores will have perfectly adequate options.
6. Be happy with your support system: You won't always see eye-to-eye with everyone in your life. Recognize that having different opinions doesn’t have to change your opinion of one another. If an argument is spiraling out of control, step back. A brief timeout can help you keep things in perspective. Knowing when to stop pushing is a big stress reliever too. Assess the situation, maybe you are asking too much from your employees, clients or friends and need to recognize that you are their support system, too. Instead of wanting and wishing for more, learn to be happy with what you have and build on that. That is when you will see your stress levels drop.
Staying in control of stress doesn't have to be a big struggle. Remember, you’re not alone – we all get stressed out. It’s just a matter of handling it in healthy ways.