Very little is needed to make a happy life; it is all within yourself, in your way of thinking.
– Marcus Aurelius
Stress can often cause an overreaction and an unwanted emotional response. Have you ever noticed that when you are feeling under pressure, you don’t always make the most rational decisions? Sometimes you can recognize that some of your actions could potentially damage a situation, a relationship (whether professional or personal) or your career, but you continue to react. I certainly am no expert in this realm on well-being but thought of just jotting down few things out of my own experience. Anytime you notice yourself becoming stressed, take a few minutes to find a quiet place and observe your thoughts and feelings towards the situation. Instead of responding to your first instinct which may be irrational or angry or emotionally charged, take a quick break to recalibrate.
Outlined below are some tricks that helped me in my endeavour to manage stress in different circumstances and in varied states of my mind then. I would seek your lenity, for not being able to prescribe what works for you, while reiterating that I am not an expert on this topic.
- Remove yourself from the situation. Take five minutes to go outside for a brief walk or if going outside is not an option, take some mindful steps around your premise.
- Plug in your headphones and listen to calming music, even if only for a few minutes.
- There are thousands of guided meditations, courses and talks online. You don’t have to meditate for long. A couple of minutes spent observing your thoughts will suffice.
- Call or meet someone who gives you a sigh of bliss. Sometimes it helps simply to vocalize your concerns. You may, however, choose not to talk about issues, but just a small random, off-beat conversation can do a world of good to park stress.
- Write it down. Creating a list of thoughts. Writing is cathartic; the sheer act of transferring thoughts and opinions from your brain to paper can be therapeutic.
- Avoid Caffeine. Caffeine spikes the sympathetic nervous system which activates your body’s fight-or-flight response. If you know you have a busy day at work ahead, skip your morning coffee or try downsizing.
- Laugh! Laughing releases endorphins, the hormones that are said to be responsible for our feelings of excitement or satisfaction and reduces your body’s stress chemicals and adrenaline. Laugh a lot. Invariably it’s the best medicine after all.
- Know the power of Gratitude. It may seem an inconsequential exercise, but I feel cultivating an ability to feel and express gratitude is strongly linked with mental and physical health, as well as high levels of emotional resilience. As the more we practice gratitude, the better we feel.
Positive experiences are prone to fading from our minds, while negative experiences are more likely to linger and frame our thoughts and behaviours. But if we consciously and actively work on maintaining the effects of positive experiences, the benefits will endure for longer while negative events will be decreased impact on our well being and attitude.