Updated: Mar 29, 2019
Even the most zen of us gets stressed so here are three quick steps to help you manage stress by either using it to your advantage, or letting it go and moving on - quickly.
STEP 1 - Find it
When we are stressed it manifests in our bodies – they tighten. Most of the time we are unaware of the physical tension until it becomes physical pain. The next time you are stressed stop and take 3 deep breaths. In that 3 breath pause, identify where in your body you are holding the stress. Just scan your body and notice where you are tense - the usual suspects are the forehead, jaw, shoulders, lower back, buttocks and stomach. Keep breathing and checking in with your body till you identify where you are holding the tension. Once found, take an even deeper breath in, and as you slowly breath out, relax that part of the body. It may take as many as 10 more deep breaths to fully release the tension so keep breathing and counting!
STEP 2 - Explore it
Stress begins with a thought. Once you are feeling less tense and breathing more fully, get curious and explore the stressor.
Why are you stressed?
What caused it?
What made you feel angry, compromised or powerless?
If you can identify and name it, do (out loud is even better). If you can’t identify and name it, just keep focused on breathing - slowly and deeply.
STEP 3 - Transform it
Feelings of stress are often accompanied by feelings of anger, negativity and powerlessness. To move out stress we need to transform the frustration into a more positive or empowered feeling, outcome or action.
Can you physically change the situation?
Is it within your power and ability to make a difference?
Can you reframe the challenge or change your approach to it?
If you can, figure out how and take action. Transform the frustration and stress into a positive action or feeling. If you realise the source of your frustration is beyond your ability to change or improve, simply let it go. Breathe in, pause, breathe out and let go - physically, mentally and emotionally. It may take as many as 10 more deep breaths to fully release the tension so keep breathing and counting!
Letting go can be challenging. But ruminating and holding onto a situation you have no control over or cannot change is a waste of time and energy and detrimental to your health and wellbeing. Stress and anxiety come from either trying to change the past or control the future. By using the breath to stay present to what we are feeling and remaining connected to and grounded in the present moment, letting go becomes easier.
Try these three steps and let me know how you get on by commenting below.