Although altering our daily stressors may have optimal benefits, it’s not often that we can do that through removing the stressors or changing the situations totally. Instead of trying to remove the stressors, we can look to see where we can add techniques throughout our day that make our stressors feel less intense. Here are a few tips to de-stress day-by-day.
Tip 1: Identify “Repeating Stressors”
To really know what stresses us out daily, we have to find out if we are in a pattern of stressful citations. Repeating stressors, or stressors that we experience regularly, are situations such as preparing the children for school, driving in traffic, or managing a hectic work-life schedule. Identifying the stressor is the first step to gaining control of it. You can keep track of this in a journal, your phone or just take a mental note.
Tip 2: Cope Ahead
So, now that you have one stressful situation in mind, how do we plan ahead to cope with it? Those moments prior to experiencing the stress are the times in which we have the most control. First, we have to be emotionally prepared. This means that we think about it ahead of time and prepare ourselves with coping skills to manage that particular situation. It’s great to have a mental or tangible list of skills we can use to cope. To best do this, we can look at the situation, our feelings and our reactions. Here’s an example:
Traffic Build up —> Anxiety —> Breathing Techniques/Positive Self-Talk (coping skill)—> Calmer Body —> Mindful Response to Others —> Emotionally regulated for other stressors
Tip 3: Unruly Emotions Need Taming (Adaptive Behavioral Response)
Sometimes, our feelings happen faster than we can apply coping skills, so then we have to manage our behavioral response. For example:
Traffic Build up —> Anxiety —> Body Tension —> Progressive Muscle relaxation (coping skill)—> Mindful response to Others—> Emotionally regulated for other stressors
Emotional preparedness and self-talk are powerful tools we can use to prepare prior to a stressful situation. Self-talk can be as simple as “the tasks from my supervisor can feel overwhelming, but I will be organized and alert so I can feel confident in my work day.” Another example of self-talk while in the stressful moment is “this situation may be difficult, but I don’t have to feel stuck in this feeling. I am safe and I am in control of my body, and if I’m calm about this, I can do this task at my best”. Progressive Muscle Relaxation can be a great tool when we are reacting to our emotional state. When using this skill, you would squeeze and then release every muscle in the body starting with the tips of your toes and ending with the top of your head. It’s important to be mindful about our bodily responses to stress, as our bodies tend to carry stress, even after the stressor is gone.
Tip 4: Morning “Energy Check-In”
Every morning, gauge your emotional energy level (patience, calmness, tension, sadness, anxiety, excitement, etc). This helps us know where we might need extra support. If we’re running low on patience from the moment we wake up, we can always try to turn that around by meditating, prioritizing our tasks, or relaxing. Sometimes, we don’t have the luxury to do this, and that leads us to Tip 5.
Tip 5: Practice “Mindfulness and Boundaries”
So instead, be mindful of how you feel, so that when you’re entering into a situation you are mindfully aware of how much energy you can give the situation before you start to run low on fumes. For example, if you wake up late for work and you start your day rushed, this may make you feel anxious. If you’re anxious, how do you behave (agitated, inattentive, emotional)? Once you can identify that emotion, put those identified coping skills in place. You can do this everyday to maximize your ability to manage stress. This can also help set boundaries with others, meaning, we can appropriately let others know what we’re capable of that day. For example, if we are low on patience because we are experiencing personal stressors such as relationship issues, grief, or financial issues; we can share with others what we are capable of doing to the extent of our control. Again, for the things that are outside of our control, we go back to using our coping skills. Keep in mind that if your cup for the day is already filled to the brim, just adding in one more small thing can make it overflow – leading us to feel overwhelmed, anxious, or even ready to explode.
Tip 6: Regularly “Recharge” to Increase Your Peace
Now that we’ve talked about the things we can do in daily routines to de-stress, we have to put back into our “emotional bank” or “re-charge” our emotional energy. As humans, we can only go for so long on low-fumes, low-energy or emotional challenges. So, just like a battery, we too need to take time to recharge. Find the things that increase your peace. This can be a hobby, a socially uplifting event, or even a simple activity such as watching your favorite TV show, listening to your favorite song, talking to a friend, lighting your favorite candle, or exercising. Even doing a little bit of this everyday can be helpful.
Tip 7: Rinse & Repeat
With these skills solidified, it is important to be consistent in applying them. Emotional states and moods will ebb and flow, and we have to be patient with ourselves. These skills take daily practice, but the results can be life changing. Be mindful and aware of your emotional states so that you are best prepared to handle what life throws your way. Remember that we can only control so much, and when things are out of control, we can find ways to cope and adjust, minimizing stress-levels while maximizing our efficiency.
Therapists at Inner Clarity all have experience and training in mindfulness techniques for wellness. Click here to schedule your appointment and make these day-by-day techniques a priority.