It is sometimes hard to define whether the worst part of stress is its source – work issues, family problems, or keeping up with a house that is in constant need of cleaning or fixing; or is it the effects on you – tight muscles, anxiety, or sleeplessness. Here is a “prescription” to take back your mind, body, and spirit – fourteen days to finding your inner calm.
Day 1: Survey your support system. I call this my “Lifeboat”. Make a list of the people you could turn to for advice and a helping hand. Knowing that they are there can make you feel more resilient.
Day 2: Plant something. Even if it is just a small pot of herbs for your kitchen. Studies show that gardening can help shift the focus away from stressors and give you a sense of calm.
Day 3: Take a break. Have a cup of tea. Regularly drinking black tea can lower stress hormones and induce feelings of relaxation. (This is one I can easily remember! I love tea!)
Day 4: Get a massage. Even a short 15-minute chair or foot massage can chip away at accumulated stress and calm your nerves. Even a quick hand massage can help – press your thumb and forefinger of one hand between the fleshy part of your hand between your thumb and forefinger on the other hand. Hold for 60 seconds.
Day 5: Get distracted. Play solitary games like solitaire or sudoku, or do crossword puzzles. Find one that you really like so that you become so absorbed you lose track of time.
Day 6: Be grateful. Make a list of three to five specific things you are grateful for. When you focus on the good in your life it flips a switch in your brain and stress will recede. Make this a daily practice.
Day 7: Think Pink. A bubblegum shade of pink has been shown to have a soothing effect so add a little pink to your wardrobe or your office. It can be as easy as using pink Post-it notes.
Day 8: Take a Drive. When you can, change your commute to take a more scenic route to or from work. This will give you a chance to either set your thoughts for the day or unwind on the way home.
Day 9: De-tangle Yourself. Make a point to stand up and stretch if you have been sitting for more than 45 minutes. Consciously release the tension that has built up in your neck, shoulders, back, etc. And, BREATHE!
Day 10: Lend a Hand. Reaching out to someone else in need gets you away from your own worries and can often put things in perspective to make you feel better about your own circumstances.
Day 11: Laugh a Little. The minute you start laughing your body turns on the feel-good endorphins that boost your mood. And laughing with someone doubles the dose.
Day 12: Turn off the Tube. TV’s constant bombardment of information can add to feelings of anxiety so give yourself a night off. Find a more relaxing visual or aural stimulation – like reading or listening to music.
Day 13: Put up a Stop Sign. When stressful thoughts start creeping in, visualize holding up a bright red stop sign. Take a few deep breaths and decide your next turn. Turn towards a more positive thought.
Day 14: There is a Bigger Plan. As problems arise, ask yourself, “Will this matter in three months? Three years?” Try to see the bigger picture and take small steps to a better outcome.
Just writing these down has given me a chance to assess some of my stressors and I will be taking my own advice for the next fourteen days. I’d love to hear if any of these ideas resonated with you.
a hui hou…
For me, laughing is critical for my wellbeing. And it’s even easier these days, since I’m living with my young grandson. His antics and baseline joy lead to frequent laughter.
I write in my gratitude journal each night just before I lay down to sleep. I’ve also added two other topics: “I am someone who” (which I fill in either with traits or circumstances I already experience or those I intend to experience soon) and “I forgive” (which often includes myself!).
I also really like your idea of writing down a list of my support team. It’s one thing to have it floating in my mind but I can imagine it is powerful to see it written. That’s one thing I’ll be doing soon!