We’re in the car this morning and my kids ask me about the day I have planned. I tell them I need to get a post out and I’m not sure what topic to do. My daughter puts her head against the seat and, shutting her eyes, says, “How about something on stress?”
Stress?? It’s the first week of a school term! Didn’t she just have holidays?
Well yes. But the musical’s next week and my kids are putting in rehearsals each night til six. Next week it’ll be 11pm every evening. The day after the muscial finishes (with two shows!) they have a public speaking competition. There’s a netball comp the following day. Some friend’s birthdays are in there. Oh, and school, homework and the usual stuff.
Lots of us are very busy doing a heap of things. It can lead to us feeling overwhelmed and stressed. Even kids get it.
We spent the next part of our ride talking about ways to handle the pressure and some stress busting ideas. Here’s my lowdown for all the rest of us feeling a tad stressed today:
Stress busting thinking for your head
We need to understand that stress in itself isn’t bad – in fact, it’s the only thing that pushes some of us to achieve things! We don’t need to buckle, melt or explode under the pressure. It’s just not meant to be a permanent fixture in our lives.
Long term stress is a big issue. It can make us unable to concentrate properly or sleep well. It makes us sick, depressed and ruins relationships. We don’t want that. That’s why we need to learn to manage stress.
Question: Do you know how to handle your stress? Do you teach it to your kids?
Stress busting for your heart
Our attitudes play a big part in how we cope. If you can see the thing that’s causing you pressure as less personal and not permanent, it will help. The other person creating your situation is possibly immature/a jerk/simply not thinking about you (shock horror!) or unaware of what they’re doing. Will the crisis be over in the next two weeks? Relax.
For example, I said to my kids this morning, “This will be over in ten days. You can last that long. Nobody’s meaning to make you stressed.” With the right attitude, they’ll get through. It might be hard work, but long term they’ll be fine. So will you, if you know there’s a time limit.
The second part of stress busting for your heart is to deliberately connect with people when you’re under the hammer. Have a chat, sit in silence, get a hug or a foot rub from someone you love. Don’t whinge non stop about your problem, simply enjoy the person contact. Too many of us get a little over-focused on the task when we’re stressed. Hanging with someone you care about will balance you out.
Question: How often do you look after your heart by checking your attitudes when you’re stressed? Which people simply love you enough to be with you in those moments?
Stress busting for your hands (and the rest of you)
At the point the pressure’s on and you can feel the tension, a two to five minute break can literally re-set your body’s tension levels. What you need is something to distract your thinking for that long. It really should be the opposite of what you do automatically in a crisis, and make strong use of one of your senses, too. This means if your tendency is to yell and hit, you need something to slow you down, but if you’re the type to crawl under the desk you need some stimulation. If you’re a visual person, use your eyes. If you’re aural, listen. Taste and smell?: coffee, anyone?
Here are ten things you could choose to do in that two to five minutes to give you some ideas. They range from simple and conservative to a little more crazy. I’m sure there are dozens more you could think up for yourself:
Jog on the spot
Stand in the wind/sun/rain and feel it on your body
Give yourself a hand massage
Watch the clouds in the sky. Notice the colours and shapes
Go outside to a safe space. Shut your eyes and listen until you can hear ten non man-made sounds
Eat a lemon
Stand in front of a fan on high
Grab a cup of ice and let each piece slowly melt in your mouth. Notice how it feels and tastes
Plug in ear phones and listen to an energetic song right through
Play slaps with a friend
The point of all these ideas is that they need to draw you away from your stressor for at least two minutes and engage your mind and body elsewhere. Whenever you find yourself wandering back to the stress, re-engage your senses with your distraction activity.
Question: Are you a fight or flight person? Which of the above stress busting distractions appeal to you? Have you tried any yet? (They don’t work just by thinking about them!)
Do you have any favourites you already do? I’d love to hear them in the comments below.