It’s not how long you live, it’s how well you do it.
Sometimes modern life can feel like a pressure cooker that needs to release steam. That little valve on the top is like your brain so I try to use that analogy to get me through rough times. I imagine letting some pressure out each time I feel a buildup- I try to use the tools of my mind and body to cope.
I’m not sure there is such a thing as a stress-free life, so mitigating it and finding fun ways to alleviate it through play and random acts of kindness works well for me. I picture cracking open a window to let the light in because there are times when the world feels like it's spinning too fast on its axis.
Switch Your Focus
Concentration is a great tool you can use to observe a feeling and dissect the origin. Asking yourself, “why am I so nervous or upset?” It's usually a domino effect. “Well, I woke up late and now I'm rushing in traffic,” might be the answer. Some other questions to ask yourself are, "did I get overstimulated with too much noise or information?” or “am I well rested and did I have proper nutrition?” All these factors can lead to a boil over.
A layered approach can help you become more fluid in your push to conquer unforeseen and expected stresses. If you struggle with mindfulness, try the simple act of peeling an orange. First touch the surface, then describe its smell, and finally taste it. Engaging all your senses without rushing is an easy and tasty way to slow down and relax. Music also works wonders. When you listen and feel the reaction to a familiar or new tune, it's like a smile, the universal language that permeates the world.
Take Time to Make Time
Women tend to have two more hours of work added into their day with cleaning, cooking and care. Planning meals and delegating are super helpful. Setting aside time to discuss financial decisions in order to feel included and empowered is another way to dissolve miscommunication.
Stress can come from inaction as well. Boredom can lead to a rut of slogging through tasks. Find some time to explore and play. Get creative, even if you don’t think you're capable. My husband bought us a karaoke machine and we are both terrible but laugh so hard while trying. Change your fashion or hair style. Do something that feels like a risk. Excitement can shake you out of your Debbie Downer mode.
Say it out loud. Believe it or not, just stating your feelings validates them to yourself and others. This way you cut off any resentment before it festers. State your desires and needs and be clear. There is a time and a place to vent, and just a little heads up gives everyone a chance to calibrate the energy in the room. Take a breather if you need a minute. I continually say, “breathe, Val, breathe” to myself. Self-talk is huge, be aware of it.
I work out negativity through movement and gain some natural endorphins which are absolutely free and have no side effects. Walk, swim, dance, stretch- these are all accessible if you just make a little time. Micro stress relievers are amazing. Who doesn't have 15 minutes to spare for your ultimate well being?
Listen and Learn
Overthinking, having an anxious mind, and being overwhelmed with work are commonplace. Just starting a task is helpful in dealing with the worry of inaction. 30% of adults experience an anxiety disorder at some point in life. Society is slowly releasing the stigma attached to these things.
When struggling with anxiety, I encourage you to seek solace in relating to like-minded others. The podcast Beautiful Voyager has been a great resource for me. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) has a wealth of information to guide you through conditions like OCD, PTSD, and more. These very real diagnoses vary on spectrums and are helpful to name, diagnose, and ultimately treat.
Feed and Nurture the Body and Soul
You take good care of your home, car, and family so what about yourself? It's extremely important to support your immunity with tools and nutrients that keep you in fighting shape. Proper rest and nutrition are some of the best defenses. Hydrate and stimulate yourself through movement because a body in motion stays in motion. Stay limber and you will optimize your ability to go with the flow.
I decided that one of my goals in life should be encouragement towards my fellow human beings. “Nobody is infallible, but we are stronger than we know.” Someone told me that at a very vulnerable time in my life and I think I will continue to spread that message. Stress may be inevitable, but we can find ways to turn it into energy that fuels us instead of zapping the pleasure we have yet to come.
What is your best tip to bust up the tension? Tell us how you turn stress around and utilize it for greater good!