Little Stress Busters is the first post in a new series.
“Little things that mean a lot” is a series that will chronicle lots of little things that can make a big difference to our lives.
Little Things That Mean A Lot : Part I
Little Stress Busters:
You might have experienced that you can weather major crises with great patience and forbearance but sometimes a little thing can make you blow your top. Maybe one reason for this is that we pull out all our reserves of tolerance and courage for the big problems but don’t care to spend time and energy or those precious reserves on little irritants.
Just as little irritants whether individually or cumulatively get us down so can little stress busters or mini relief measures help us stay calm in the long run.
Here are 7 little stress busters that can go a long way:
Allow Extra Time
When I was little and learned to tell the time, I discovered that the big clock on our living room wall was 15 minutes fast. When I questioned this my father said that he kept it so on purpose so that we could always be early for everything.
My parents stopped doing this a long time ago ( I don’t know why, and I have never gotten around to asking ). I have found this technique useful in many situations.For instance, if someone asks you how long it will take to get somewhere it is useful to over-estimate a little before replying. If you think it will take you half an hour to get somewhere, tell your friend who is meeting you that you will take 40 minutes.
This accounts for any last minute hold ups or traffic jams etc. In this way you can potentially avoid any stress caused by such situations. Even if youare going somewhere on your own (say, to work), allowing yourself an extra 10 minutes can be useful.
If you reach your destination before the appointed time you can use the extra minutes to scroll through text messages, check your e-mail or skim through a useful blog post (like this one). This little over-estimate of time can be very useful in avoiding stress.
Having a back-up plan is not useful just for military strategists. Our day to day lives can also benefit from having a back-up plan or fall back option.
This does not mean that you should expect all your ideas and plans to fail. I am suggesting that having a second option can see you through unforeseen circumstances. A back up plan as simple as a second dress option, in addition to the one you have lined up, for a special event. Under the right circumstances this could be a real life saver.
This does not mean that you keep imagining worst case scenarios, living under a perpetual cloud of “what If?”. When you know you have all your bases covered and have prepared for every eventuality you will be more confident in whatever you do. If things do fall through, your mini stress buster back up plan will save you from mega stress.
Exercise releases endorphins, or ‘feel good chemicals’ in your body (I like to say this in nearly every blog post). To learn more about endorphins, click here.
If you are at your wits’ end over a work-related or personal catastrophe, a walk around the block is a good idea. This will release enough endorphin to tide you over the stressful situation and allow you to tackle it with a fresh perspective.
If you cannot leave your stressful situation, plead a bathroom break or cell phone break and step outside to do a few stretches. When you go back to your board meeting or tough negotiation, you will find yourself tackling it with new vigour.
I mention nature nearly always when I am talking about personal development or self-care. Nature is the best little stress buster after exercise.
Lush green lawns, rolling hills and flower filled meadows induce a sense of calm and serenity. The great outdoors is full of inspiration and rejuvenation whenever you have the opportunity to explore it.
“I can’t go for a five mile hike to commune with nature each time I feel stressed,” you might say. I agree with that completely, but you can always add a bit of nature to your workplace or home. A few potted plants and hanging flower baskets, tastefully arranged can become a favourite retreat for stressful times.
Failing that, if you cannot go outdoors, why not carry the outdoors with you. Beautiful landscapes as wallpapers or screensavers on your laptop or cell phone can be used as a portable “nature cure” for anxiety and stress.
Breathing : Deep & Slow
This has got to be the best little stress buster ever. When you can’t do anything, you can still breathe. (if you could not breathe you would not be alive, would you?)
We forget that this very basic function can help us through many a tight spot. Just breathe in slowly to 1-2-3-4-5 and then exhale slowly to 6-7-8-9-10. As you breathe out you will feel the tension leaving your body.
This is a little stress buster that you can use anywhere and everywhere, wherever the stress strikes. While standing in line at a frustratingly long queue at the supermarket, during a job interview, exam or presentation, this simple little exercise will help you keep your cool.
Letting off steam
You must have noticed a little hole in the lid of every teapot of whatever size or style. That little hole is there to let out the steam that builds up inside.
The reason that I am stating this very obvious fact is that sometimes life’s pressures build up so much inside us that we need that little hole in our lids. In other words, it is very important to vent out negative emotions like stress, anxiety or anger.
Venting or letting off steam does not solve the problem. It just helps you to get rid of all the negative emotion around the problem, enabling you to handle the situation objectively. This makes venting an ideal little stress buster.
If you are lucky enough to have a sympathetic listener like a relative, or friend or spouse, you will get the added benefit of good advice. If no one is available, it’s a good idea to unburden yourself in writing.
We bloggers are very lucky to have this platform where we can let it all out. However, if you don’t feel like sharing your worries, just typing them out on your computer or writing them out in a diary works just as well. You can always hit “delete” later.
Your favourite armchair, your favourite tea or coffee or your favourite place to hang out with friends: these are little things in life that you usually take for granted. Yet you cannot ignore their value as little stress busters.
At the end of a long and stressful day at work,
During family or financial stress,
During the illness of a loved one,
When your child or spouse or any random person is being difficult,
When rush hour traffic is stretching your limits,
When queues are long but time is short and so are tempers,
These little stress busters might not be able to change the situation but they will definitely increase your ability to cope.
Do try them out and share any tips you are using already. I would love to hear from you in the comments section below.
I will be very grateful if you like, follow and share.
Disclaimer: these little tips are meant for the stress that we encounter in our day to day lives. If you suffer from chronic or severe anxiety lose no time in seeing a medical professional.
All images courtesy Unsplash
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