The dog is barking at the UPS guy, your son just threw a stuffed animal in the toilet and your 3-year-old daughter is trying to get out the front door, again. No, that’s probably not your life, but it’s a typical few minutes in my daily life — and one of the reasons I get stressed. I may not be able to stop my kids from doing dastardly deeds, but I can control how I react to them, or so I’m learning.
Here today to teach a few stress-management tips should you need them is Kathy Gruver, author of Conquer Your Stress With Mind/Body Techniques. She says getting rid of stress isn’t that hard to do; you can choose your response to stress, and you can learn to let it go.
“We can’t control what is outside of us, but we can change what we think, what we do with our bodies and what we eat, and we can be healthier, stronger and lead less stressful lives,” she says. “It’s very simply a conscious choice we can and must make for ourselves.”
Saying that we can take charge of stress any time we want to, Gruver emphasizes that your mind and body are yours and you get to decide what you have them do. In other words, stress isn’t the problem; it’s how we react to it. After all, stress is totally normal and can be helpful in many situations. But if it’s getting to be too much, try these tips on for size!
7 Everyday Stress Relievers
1. Control your reaction to stress. You have the power. You have to choose to exercise it. Realize that stress is not the problem. Our reaction to stress is the problem. Learn what you need to do to control your reaction. As soon as you gain control, stress is no longer detrimental.
2. Out with the bad and in with the good. Say no to negatives. Don’t create your own stress. Push the negative thoughts away. Always have a list of good, positive ideas, pictures and things you love nearby. Whenever a negative thought comes up, choose to push it away and choose to focus on the good and the positive. So, rather than saying “I’m not getting sick,” say, “I am healthy and well.” This boosts the immune system and stops the cycle of negative thinking.
3. Direct your daydreams. Gruver says that our brain can’t tell the difference between what we’re thinking about and what is really happening, which is why we have to be very careful what we’re daydreaming and fantasizing about. Take control of your mind and body. Focus on the things you want to see happen in your life. If you find your mind wandering, acknowledge it and then push it away! Focus on what YOU want it to focus on instead. Visualize actively. Draw, doodle, write poems, do whatever turns you on and helps you turn your ideas into plans, plans into actions, actions into reality. Change your life and your health for the better.
4. Take baby steps. Get healthier slowly and steadily. Use the healthy activities that you already do in your life as a mind/body practice. Things like yoga, tai chi, massage, running and dance can all be used as a meditation.
5. Do mini-meditations. Think you can’t meditate? You can now! There are simple mini-meditations that take just a few minutes to learn and can be done anywhere. They erase the stress response and help return our stress hormones and chemicals to normal.
6. Pay attention to what your body is telling you. Often, the body parts that are misbehaving are hinting at our stress. Do you feel like your hands are full and then develop carpal tunnel? Who is the pain in your neck? Are you shouldering the burden or feeling like you can’t stomach something? Observing these common phrases can be the key to identifying and releasing our stress.
7. Don’t reward yourself for bad behavior. When you are sick, don’t languish and enjoy being in bed any more than necessary. Don’t soak up the attention and consolation people give you for mistakes, painful experiences or unforeseen accidents and illness any more than necessary to get back on your feet. There are better ways to get love and attention. Choose health!
If you’re interested in more techniques for destressing, check out the book. Until you get to the library or book store, tell me: What is your favorite stress reliever? —Erin