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Best 10 stress reduction tips that work for me...
Stress has always been a problem, and stress related illness has been the rise worldwide year after year for years. But now, with covid, economic uncertainty, increased polarisation undermining communities, changes in the workplace, stress levels are through the roof. The American Phsycological Association declared in October: “We are facing a national mental health crisis that could yield serious health and social consequences for years to come. “ https://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/stress/2020/report-october
For me, too much stress and I become mired, stuck. My energy gets eaten up and wasted, burned up by the stress itself, leaving me with less resources to actually deal with and solve the problems and challenges I face. When this happens, the first thing to do is recognise that this is what is happening. And then I can take steps to reduce and eliminate the stress the challenges. There are lots of stress reduction techniques available, and these are my own personal top ten:
Breathe: Deep conscious breaths – 5 seconds in, 5 seconds out. At least 10 times
Walking in nature: The exercise, the fresh air, and being surrounded by eternal and imperturbable beauty of nature reminds that my problems are small and temporary,no matter how big they seem.
Yoga / Excercise: All and any exercise is essential for stress reduction, but I find that doing yoga regularly brings with it conscious awareness of my body that anchors me, gives me stillness, so the storm that rages can rage around me and not in me.
Music: Listening to music with intention and awareness (and not just having music in the background while doing a million other things) calms me. It quiets the mind-chatter and draws me into the perfection of this moment here and now.
Laughter: Laughter, full, raucous, uncontrolled – it releases tension, expels the blocked up energy, and makes everything else more manageable.
Meditation: all of the above are various forms of meditation – practicing consciously existing in the moment, rooted and connected.
Eliminate small frustrations and irritants: Small stresses add up, and by eliminating the small irritants and frustrations that we don't even notice on a day to day basis can free up our energy for dealing with the real and bigger problems. Picking up the laundry off the floor, making the bed...I invented Bagnetique for exactly this reason, to eliminate that daily repeating annoying frustration.
Amplified perspective: Whenever I faced a problem that was overwhelming me, my Nan used to always say “what will it matter 5 years from now”. When you look up at the stars and think “for them, eternal and enormous, this problem is literally nothing. If you can use your imagination to really project yourself forward, outward, try and imagine yourself into a perspective that is much bigger than you and your current problems, your worries can get a lot less overwhelming.
Detachment: this is a new one – I have learned this really recently, how much I tend to attach my sense of value and self-worth to the outcomes of my projects and relationships. But we all have a value that is intrinsic to ourselves, not reliant on our successes or failures. Regardless of the outcome of any situation, I will still be here, I will still be me, and I will always find new projects and new situations. (there are no ends...there are only means...take that Macchiavelli)
Better Organisation: And stress isn't just an existential problem...there is also a material element...simply having too much to do and too little time. When this happens, organisation is key: I use a diary to write down ideas so they don't jangle in my head. Excellent calendar software so my appointments are always in order. To do lists, so I feel on top of all the tasks that need attention.
All of these work for me, and of course, different techniques work for different people. It is important to recognise that too much stress and anxiety is a serious problem. If left to build up too much, it can become simply overwhelming, and hard to find the energy to do any of these things to combat it. At these levels, professional help is the best tool. Support from a professional therapist as well as medicinal assistance can help get your balance back.