Stress – that delightful word that brings with it such wonderful connotations. It can be ongoing over a long period of time, or pop up in short little spirts, that have you calling everyone who comes near you the worst series of expletives you can imagine. (Granted, usually in your head.)
Sometimes you can remove the causes of stress from your life completely. More often than not though, you can do little more than sit there and take it. Because life. With that in mind, here are some tips to keep you calm(er) for whatever life throws in your way:
1. Develop a morning ‘Start the Day Right’ routine
Set aside at least 15 minutes when you first wake up to get yourself in the right headspace for the day. My routine consists of some stretches (a few sun salutations, twists and forward bends for any yoga buffs), breathing exercises and visualisations. When I can remember, I also set the intention for the day.
Yours could be straight meditation, deep breathing, stretching, exercising or saying affirmations. It should be whatever makes you feel good and gets you ready for the day. If you are the type of person who finds it very hard to get out of bed in the morning, you’ll be pleased to know that there is nothing wrong with doing these activities right next to the bed. So all you have to do is roll out and assume position.
Doing it first thing in the morning is best because your mind has the least amount of time to make up excuses of why you can’t. All it takes is one week of making sure you do it every morning and it becomes second nature. You’ll be sure to notice the difference to your days in that space of time too.
2. Force yourself to do nothing
Like, even reading or watching TV. Find somewhere comfortable and simply sit there. Stare at the ceiling, stare at your badly painted toenails – anything which can technically be considered as doing ‘stuff all’. It can be for five, 15 or 30 minutes. Obviously, the longer the better but do whatever you can handle.
In this day and age, we rarely just stop. Stopping is important because it lets everything settle and be put back in perspective. If we are always on the go, we never have a chance to reflect, contemplate life or let thoughts arise from the depths of our being. Those are the things that allow us to enjoy what we have, or decide to set ourselves on a whole new path completely.
3. Have some empathy for the people who piss you off
Go on, you can manage it! Just a little bit. Even for that wanker who whipper-snips every Sunday morning at 7am. You don’t know what his story is. Maybe he is doing the gardening for his elderly mother. Maybe he works a 60 hour week and that is the only time he can possibly do it. Maybe he has no idea that his actions annoy anyone else. (Or, yes, maybe he’s just a jerk.)
Taking a moment to consider what it would be like walking in someone else’s shoes allows us to be a little bit more understanding and accepting. Empathy comes from the heart. Getting pissed off comes from the head. Going with the heart option will make you feel better. Choose that.
4. Avoid busy places
If you know you are going to struggle with screaming kids, packed car parks and line-ups, avoid going to busy places altogether. If you need to do some grocery shopping, go to a local convenience store instead of a big supermarket. If you know traffic is going to be a nightmare, leave a bit earlier or later than the masses.
If you are already feeling stressed, busy places are only going to over-stimulate your senses to the point of steam coming out of your ears. In this situation, it’s worth paying that little bit extra, or driving that little bit further. It’s your sanity we are talking about!
5. Give up trying to control the situation and laugh at whatever comes your way
Sometimes, when it’s not your day, it’s just not your day. Nothing you can do will stop the barrage of shit coming your way, so you may as well go with the flow. Actually, what’s better is to smile and go with the flow.
If it’s too hard to laugh at the situation straight up, watch some funny YouTube videos or call a friend to tell them your unbelievable bad luck streak so that you can laugh about it together. Laughter is one of the best stress relievers available to us. So if you’d rather feel good than stressed out, saddle up on the fun horse sister! How we react to things is always a choice.
6. Spend time in nature
This is pretty much all I ever bang on about, and we’ve discussed it before, so I will refrain from doing it here. Spending time in nature is important okay? Now go do it!