You have a huge workload but you want to cut stress. There’s so much to do. Not just at work – at home too! That project at work is getting closer and closer to the deadline. It’s too late to delegate (not that anyone else could do it the way you want anyway!). You feel like you have to do a good job of it, or maybe you’ll get overlooked for that promotion. Maybe people will start to think you’re in the wrong job. It should have been given to someone else.
Your mind is so focused on work at the moment that you feel guilty for not spending enough time with the kids. Yes, you were physically there when they were playing lego, but were you really paying attention? You know the kids can tell when your mind is elsewhere. And that makes you feel even worse.
The house is a tip. With all the running around and working late, there’s no time left for tidying and cleaning. Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a fairy that could magic it all away? The dripping tap that needs seeing to. The door that squeaks. The pile of dirty washing that never seems to end!
It’s overwhelming. Even if you got a spare minute, there’s no way you could get on top of it all! You’d need more than a week off!
We all know what happens next…
A week off work….to do whatever you please….wouldn’t that be amazing? But every time you take a week off, you get sick. Like your body’s on high alert, keeping everything going until you…..
Then your immune system says ‘Ooh time for a break! Tools down!’. And you get whatever lurgy there is at the time. Or your body gives in.
If you could find a way to cut stress out of your life, would you do it? I bet you would! What if I told you the only way to cut stress is to quit your job and spend a few months recuperating? Going inwards. Truly learning more about yourself. Seeking help?
That’s one way, yes. But here are some mini daily strategies you can use to cut stress every day. Or at least get those levels down. The catch is, they become more powerful the more you do them. So it’s going to take persistence. And you might think you don’t have time for them, but they’re really simple and really quick. So please try!
1) Start the day without your phone
That’s hard if you use it as an alarm, eh? It’s up to you how you go about it. I bought an actual alarm clock so I could keep my phone in another room to charge overnight. But these days it’s in the bedroom, just not being touched (though it is tempting!).
Let me explain why. Your brain has had a lovely sleep and you may have had dreams. So your subconscious mind is having a little rearrange to help you sort through how you feel about your life at the moment. It’s still waking up, still bleary eyed….then
A photo of an old school friend drinking cocktails! News just in about an earthquake. An advert for some anti-aging cream. A message from a colleague telling you they won’t be in today. An email reminder for a bill you haven’t paid.
Although you see these on a little screen, your brain sees them as much more real…imagine…..
That friend is standing by your bed drinking a cocktail, singing ‘Living on a Prayer’ as loudly as she can! The newsreader has appeared at your window and is knocking on the glass to tell you all about it! A cosmetic company has come into your room to lather anti-aging cream all over your face! Your work colleague knocking on the door to tell you they won’t be in! Someone at your door demanding you pay that bill straight away!
Just like Michael McIntyre’s Midnight Gameshow! t’s giving me palpitations just imagining! How stressful. How overwhelming. First thing in the morning!
Can you see now why I say not to pick up your phone straight away? Give your mind a chance to wake up slowly, peacefully. Give your body a chance to stretch and feel calm. Cut stress before it even starts.
2) Before you get out of bed, take 5 deep breaths
Breathing is boring, isn’t it? Keeps us alive though. You may or may not have been taking deep breaths during the night. So it makes sense to give your oxygen levels a boost before you move your body.
Breathe in as slowly as you can. Hold it at the top. Breathe out as slowly as you can. Repeat.
So how does this cut stress? Well, deep breathing activates the parasympathetic nervous system – the part that controls your fight or flight response. By breathing deeply, you’re telling your brain that you are safe. This keeps your nerves steady and reduces anxiety.
For tips on how to do deep diaphragmatic breathing, take a look at this video.
3) Play the rainbow game!
When we feel stressed, it’s not usually from something we’re actively doing at the time (unless you’re bungee jumping – so go ahead). Stress comes from what we imagine in our minds. We imagine things won’t turn out as we planned. We imagine that when that happens, we won’t be able to cope.
Stress comes from the ‘what ifs’ of the future and the regrets of the past. It’s not often that it comes from what you’re doing right now (are you feeling stressed reading this?).
How can we get back to the now?
Look around. It’s time to play the rainbow game! You can do this anywhere, any time. While you’re driving (but be careful!). In any room or any place in the world. It’s simply this:
Look for one item that is each colour of the rainbow
PINK (yes I’m cheating a bit here)
Why? Because pausing to look at your surroundings gets you out of your head. And into the present. You can go further and count how many of each colour item you can see. You can even play it with your kids!
Being present helps you cut stress because it grounds you to the here and now.
Right here, in this moment, all is well.
4) Move your body
When I struggle with stress the most, walking is like a tonic. Body and mind are closely connected. So to cut stress in your mind, moving your body makes sense. Getting your muscles moving and ideally getting some fresh air really helps you get out of that funk and refreshes your mind.
Studies have shown that exercising:
- Improves neuroplasticity in the brain (making it easier for you to learn new things)
- Releases endorphins (natural pain killers)
- Releases dopamine (the feel good hormone that regulates heart rate, mood and motivation)
- Increases oxygen supply to the brain (helping your memory)
But for this to be a simple, quick strategy, I want you to think of this as simply ‘doing a bit more’. Park your car a little further away from the building. Take the stairs instead of the lift. Go for a quick 10 minute walk on your lunch break. Just one tiny step, one day at a time, no pressure.
5) Regardless of how your day went, list three things you’re glad about
Yes, it can be tricky. When you feel like your day didn’t go exactly as planned. Our minds have the uncanny ability to remember the bad stuff more than the good stuff! It makes sense though – it’s all about survival. Those good things aren’t a threat to your survival are they? So why remember them?
Choose to list out at least three things from your day that make you feel good. Do it before you go to sleep to tell your mind that all is ok. Encourage sweet dreams!
To cut stress even more, write them down. There’s something amazing about the action of writing your thoughts that really cements them into your mind. This is even better, because you can look back on all the good stuff at the end of the week and celebrate what a good time you had!
I’m still stressed…..now what?
Yes, doing these strategies can cut stress levels and keep you afloat for a while. But what they can’t do is address what’s really going on. The sheer amount of stuff on your ‘to do’ list. There’s only one way out of that, and that’s to cut it down. You’d be surprised how many things you’re doing that really aren’t necessary. I know because I used to do them!
But behind all of these tasks and all the stuff that keeps you ‘busy’, there’s something much deeper:
What you really believe about yourself.
This is the core of why you do what you do, in the way you do it. Is people pleasing causing you to put everyone else first, before yourself? Is your self-esteem so low that you don’t think you deserve better? Are you struggling with the thought that you’re just not good enough?
I hear all of this time and time again. It’s very common. I used to think all of those things too. Now I help my clients release these limiting thoughts. So they can start living the life they choose.
If you’re ready to start becoming the person you choose to be, book a call with me.