LIFE! Both beautifully magical and stressfully confusing. Unless you are an enlightened being levitating your days away, chances are you have the pleasure of experiencing the whirlwind of emotions and experiences that are handed to us on a daily basis. From the bigger things like a broken heart or the loss of a loved one to the more mundane stressors like meeting the monthly rent to crowded subways, life sure hands us some curveballs. One thing to know is that it’s a journey — and how you handle the challenges is ultimately what shapes you as a person. Having the tools to self-soothe and remain in a state of trust are crucial to getting the most out of your days.
Below is a list of quick and accessible hacks you can utilize almost anywhere. The next time you feel a wave of stress coming on, reference the below. We hope we can help!
Accessing your breath is a seamless way to guide yourself out of uncomfortable feelings. Deep, diaphragmatic breaths plug you into the parasympathetic nervous system and help you to transition yourself back into a space of calm and ease. This doesn’t mean you ignore the feelings that are presenting, but instead work with them, allowing yourself to feel them in the moment. Then, rather than dwelling in them, you use your breath to keep them moving through you rather than clinging to them and spiraling into panic. The beauty of deep breaths is that they can be accessed anywhere and anytime. Bring your awareness to drawing your inhale through the nose and all the way down into your belly and then follow it up and out through the mouth as you exhale. Repeat at least five times and come back to it as often as you need.
2. Get outside
It’s not made-up woo-woo that the natural elements play a positive role in helping to stabilize the body. Mounting evidence suggests that the Earth’s negative potential can create a stable internal bioelectrical environment for the normal functioning of all body systems, including the nervous system. Next time you are feeling stressed, try plugging in. Shoes off, bare ground, deep breaths. If possible, close your eyes and simply let the feelings be felt.
3. Lean on loved ones
You’re not stronger if you do this alone. You just aren’t. Showing your vulnerability and reaching out to your network of people actually creates a deeper sense of connection within the relationship while also reminding the people around you that they are not alone in their struggles. It might not be that you pour your heart out (or it might be!) but that you surround yourself with the people that make you feel good and love you for who you are — stressed out or not!
Exercise causes the release of chemicals called endorphins into your bloodstream, making you feel relaxed and happy. We all know that post-run high, or the yoga-stoned feeling just after a flow. This is because we have created a deeper connection to the physical body and have given the head, thoughts, and mind a break. The next time you are in a cycle or loop of stressful repetitive thought, distract yourself through movement. Come back to the issue with a clearer head and a new mindset. Try it!
5. Listen to music
Most of the time it’s free, you get to choose your favorite type, and it can permeate your neural pathways and evoke a variety of positive reactions. Softer, soothing music is ideal to bring about calming effects, but by all means put on something loud if that’s meaningful to you in that moment.
Communication is often the root of so much discomfort. Often it is much easier to say what we are feeling and express ourselves than it is to hold back, analyze, and create stories. Of course, that’s so much easier said than done. Talking takes courage; it takes a will to be real and knowing that what we are feeling is OK and necessary. If you are someone who holds back when it comes to talking, play around with challenging yourself to express more. You may find great relief and clarity.
7. Up your self-care
Get clear on what you need in these stressful situations. Are you someone who takes space and retreats or do you need to surround yourself with people and keep busy? Stay on top of sleep and diet and make sure you are really honoring your basic needs. This is your foundation that you have to fall back on. If this is not in place, stress can blow way out of proportion. Peel back complexity and come back to basics. Treat yourself to a good massage and keep reminding yourself that you are OK. Always.