Here’s a practical self-care tip: Make a wellness plan ahead of time that will help you manage stress when you’re caught up in the whirl wind of your life. You probably make plans for everything else: work, dinner plans with friends, even the kids’ science project. Why not plan something that will help you feel calmer and stay a little healthier?
You can do the following three stress busters almost anywhere. When you get comfortable with them, you’ll probably also find yourself doing them in front of other people without them even knowing it. Imagine yourself releasing tension during a stressful meeting, while sitting in a waiting room, or anywhere else your busy schedule takes you.
"In the moment" stress management can help you leave the tension of demanding interactions behind you. It helps you move forward through the rest of your day feeling calmer and more balanced. You’ll probably also find yourself feeling less drained in spite of your demanding schedule. Best of all, you won’t feel like unloading all the frustration of the day on your loved ones when you get home.
1. Deep breathing. This is the easiest form of relaxation. You can do it anywhere, any time. When you realize you’re feeling stressed or frazzled turn your attention to your breathing. You’ll probably realize you’ve been taking shallow, rapid breaths. Now, inhale slowly and deeply through your nose for four counts. Exhale slowly through your mouth for another four counts. This will help your body shift into a calmer, more relaxed state.
2. Affirmations. If you find your mind racing, worrying, or fixating on stressful thoughts, switch to a positive affirmation. This helps relieve stress by interrupting the negative thoughts creating tension. It also allows you to focus on something positive and empowering that can help improve your mood. Keep the affirmation short, positive, and encouraging. Repeat a statement like, “I am able to handle this situation well,” “Peace, be still,” or “This too shall pass” several times out loud or quietly to yourself. Do it until you start to feel more relaxed.
3. Visualizations. Like affirmations, using your mind’s eye to create a calming scene also helps shift your focus from the stressor to something soothing. This technique is kind of like a mini-meditation so you’re also likely to notice your body feeling more relaxed. Take a couple of moments to consciously create images of something that makes you feel good and is a positive image. It can be a relaxing location, an image of you successfully achieving a goal, of you looking and feeling incredibly happy, healthy, peaceful, etc. Let your imagination carry you where you need to go to release the stress you’re feeling.
Creating a healthy lifestyle doesn’t have to be a big, time-consuming task. Sometimes it’s as easy as remembering to pause for wellness and to manage stress in the moment.