Show Stress You Are In Charge During Stress Awareness Month
It’s likely a feeling you know well, right?
Stress might manifest as tension in your shoulders and upper back. It may be the cause of an inexplicable and unpredictable stomach ache. Stress might also explain why you feel so tired, are quick to anger or get agitated with people around you.
Stress looks and feel different for everyone, but generally when you feel stressed, you know it because it’s pretty much the opposite of feeling happy and carefree.
I read an article by Jayme Lamm this week in which she reflected on the power of disconnecting. Her experience got me thinking, and I wondered how often we disconnect?
As April is Stress Awareness Month I wrote a 4-step strategy on how to disconnect and show stress you are in charge. If you feel stressed and want to cope better, this article is for you.
Ready to shift your focus? Let’s go!
Show stress you are in charge
Step 1: Step away
When you feel stress building and your temperament changing, it’s time to step away from stress. Some situations you can step away from more easily than others, but you always have the choice to dismiss yourself from anything that feels uncomfortable (consider my blog your permission slip).
I like to put stress into two categories.
First, we have current stress and then we have compounded stress. Current stress is being in a stressful situation in the moment. Enduring a difficult meeting, watching your child have a meltdown or overhearing people have an argument qualify as current stress. These types of situations can be uncomfortable, and if you’re feeling uncomfortable, its OKAY to step away from the stressful scenario.
Stepping away will help you physically distance yourself from a situation that feels stressful, allowing your thoughts to slow and emotions to calm.
Alternatively, if you’ve been tolerating stress and stress-related feelings, and have more than 5 minutes to spare any day of the week, schedule in time to step away from stress by picking a day and time to regroup.
Scheduling time away from stress is how to cope with compounded stress.
You can nickname your scheduled time away whatever you like; I call my scheduled time away RECHARGE TIME. With your scheduled time away from stress, it’s important to block out your calendar so you don’t forget to have your much needed time to recharge.
Step 2: Engage in something else
If you are in a situation that requires an immediate break, something simple like excusing yourself to the restroom or stepping around the corner for a breather are solid options. Again, the goal is to remove yourself from a stressful situation so that you can calm down and collect yourself.
Engaging in something else is about recognizing what you need in the moment.
For non-immediate situations where you have the flexibility to schedule in your own regroup time (say Monday at 6:00 PM or Saturday at 10:00 AM), then coordinate your time so that your scheduled activity can be leisurely and not rushed! If it’s rushed, then the purpose of the activity is defeated.
Your something else can be anything you like that brings you pleasure and makes you feel good. I’ll provide a short-list below, but I’m confident you know what helps you unwind.
The key here, though, is to do the activity in solitude so that you are present in the experience and not responsible for entertaining anyone other than yourself. Having this reserved time will help you decompress and recharge.
When you are in the present moment in body, mind and spirit, it’s impossible to be anywhere else.
- Go for a massage
- Get a mani / pedi
- Sit in the park
- Take a bath
- Take a hot shower
- Eat your favorite meal
- Do yoga
- Sit in silence
- Take your pet on a walk
- Listen to your favorite song
- Watch your favorite movie
- Go to the museum
- Sit outside
- Get lost in a bookstore (yes, they still exist)
- Lose time in a coffee shop or cafe
Step 3: Be present in your identified activity
Whatever activity you choose, be present. What do you notice? What do you hear around you? What do you smell? What do you see? What does your body feel?
Contemplate and reflect on these sensory experiences.
Our senses continually send our brain messages, but often we are too stuck in our heads to notice. Steal moments throughout the pleasurable activity to take notice of what you smell, hear, see, feel and even taste.
If during the pleasurable activity you find your mind wanders, resist the urge to judge yourself. Simply acknowledge your mind wandered and bring yourself back to the present moment. If that sounds confusing or difficult, use a directive sentence like, “Okay, stress, I hear you, but I’m in the middle of something nourishing right now. We will talk later.” Then, use your senses to return to the pleasurable activity.
If you are taking a hot bath, feel the warm water on your skin. If you are drinking a milkshake, what flavors do you notice on your tongue? If you are taking a walk, what do you hear?
Step 4: Check yourself
Once your activity concludes, but before you return to the responsibilities of life, check-in with yourself. How do you feel? How would you rate your stress level now? Does your head feel more clear? Do you feel restored? Take an honest inventory of your body, emotions and mind.
You now have a 4 step process to show stress you are in charge
Taking time to recharge won’t make your problems go away, but it will enhance your emotional and cognitive resiliency to stress. With continued practice you can intercept stress as it builds and show stress you are in charge during Stress Awareness Month (and every day), instead of allowing stress to control you.
If you want support in managing stress, I can help you. Cope Better, my private practice specializes in managing stress, navigating difficult work-related problems and supporting entrepreneurs.
Schedule your appointment today to create a more balanced you.