5 Ways To De-Stress When You're Feeling Overwhelmed
By Rory Coulter
Benjamin Franklin famously said: “In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” He could have saved himself some time and just said stress. Nothing can be certain, except stress.
Stress, unfortunately, is an inescapable part of life. That’s why it’s so important to learn how to cope with it — in healthy ways. As our friend Dr. Leaf says, “You can’t always control your circumstances, but you can learn to control your reactions to your circumstances.” Here are five ways we de-stress when we’re feeling overwhelmed.
1) PRACTICE THE 5-4-3-2-1 GROUNDING TECHNIQUE
When you’re feeling stressed and anxious, it’s easy to get lost in your own head and stuck in negative thought loops. Instead, try the 5-4-3-2-1 Grounding Technique, a simple practice to help you reset when you’re feeling overwhelmed.
First, pause, take a deep breath, and look at your surroundings. Acknowledge 5 things that you can see, then 4 things that you can hear, then 3 things that you can feel, then 2 things you can smell, and finally 1 thing you can taste.
2) CREATE A RITUAL
When you’re feeling stressed and anxious, it’s easy to feel down about every aspect of your life. Instead, look for something that sparks joy. It helps to remember that 99% of life is in fact sameish and, despite how it might appear, we all go through the same motions, day in, day out. Learning how to find joy in the small stuff will help mark time and make everyday feel special, intentional, and meaningful.
Rituals bring joy to the drudgery and give meaning to the mundane. As a challenge, think of the most stressful part of your day. Got it?
There’s probably more than one, but just start with one. Now, set an intention to make it one of your favorite parts of the day by creating a ritual around it. Turn your long commute into something to look forward to listening to a great podcast. Turn cleaning into a delightful chore by investing in a fancy feather duster. Turn taking out the trash into your favorite time of the day by pausing to watch the sunset. You get the idea!
3) FOCUS ON YOUR CORE VALUES
When you’re feeling stressed and anxious, it’s easy to lose sight of what really matters. Instead, simply remind yourself why what’s stressing you out is so important to you. Parenting is a classic example.
Stressful situations are an opportunity to step up, live and breathe your core values, and feel good about showing up as best you can. As Albert Einstein said: “In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.”
Staying focussed on your core values puts everything into perspective, gives meaning to the stressful events in your life, and keeps you grounded in what’s really important. Read more >
4) GO PEOPLE WATCHING
When you’re feeling stressed or anxious, it’s easy to feel like there’s a dark cloud hanging over you. Instead, go out and look for flickers of light. Look for people being kind to one another. The old couple holding hands, the dad kissing his daughter’s head, the gentleman holding the door, the shopkeeper setting out a bowl of water, the bus driver smiling and waving goodbye. You can’t help but well up with love for all these people out in the world doing their best. And when you’re feeling up to it, practicing kindness is one of the best ways to reduce stress.
5) GO FOR A WALK
When you’re feeling stressed and anxious, it’s easy to feel like hiding under a rock. Instead, force yourself to get outside and go for a 10 minute walk.
Walking is the most underrated form of exercise and stress relief. It’s a whole lot easier than going to the gym when you’re not feeling your best and psychologists have found it may be just as good when it comes to relieving symptoms of anxiety. Shane O’Mara, neuroscientist and author of In Praise of Walking, says doctors should prescribe walking instead of pills. That’s exactly what Scotish physicians in the Shetland Islands are doing.
BONUS: HIT PAUSE
When you’re feeling stressed and anxious, it’s easy to lose your cool and let your emotions get the better of you. Instead, hit pause and hold your tongue, so you don’t say something you’ll regret and end up feeling even worse.
Take a breather by holding a dropper full of De-Stress Blend under your tongue until you feel more calm, clear and in control. Learn more about how De-Stress Blend can help you.