We all deal with stressful situations. Sometimes we have work related stress within our place of employment, side hustle or the business we run. Other times we have stress within our families in the forms of disagreements and wishing more for family members. There’s even unnecessary stress [“Hello, Enneagram 1 here!”]. We make up stressful situations when they aren’t really even there. And don’t even get me started on overthinking.
What matters most, though, is how we deal with that stress. Right off the top, I’ve gotta be honest. I’m not one that deals with stress very well. After living a life full of anxiety and depression, and adult ADD, I don’t do well when I’m stressed or overwhelmed. You can read it on my face and hear it in my voice when I’m stressed and it’s not a pretty picture. I have learned a few ways to deal with these stressful situations over the years, though. I want to share those with you in hopes that they help you in times of need.
Ask yourself “What can I control now?”
I’ve heard a few professionals in the industry use this and I love it! In many of the stressful situations we experience, we are not fully in control. But there are two things you can control:
- Your attitude
- Your actions
What I’ve learned to do is let go of things that are not in my control. Trust me, it’s way harder than you think. I put this suggestion first because I know it’s the hardest and I want you to eat that frog. Start here because once you can understand what you have control over, you’ll feel a little lighter.
Take a Breath Before Doing Anything
As an asthmatic, I get this to my core. Breathing is typically an automatic action within our nervous system but for me, that’s not always the case. When I get stressed and anxious, I tend to hold my breath. Don’t ask why, but I’ve noticed it over the years. When I notice it, I do the following exercise.
The 4-7-8 Breathing Technique
I learned this from Andrew Weil and it’s been a game changer for me. You breathe in for the count of 4, hold your breath for the count of 7 and breathe out for the count of 8. This technique helps you focus, slows your heart rate and allows you to see things more clearly. You can do this technique anywhere, but I especially love doing it before bed to quiet my mind and help me sleep.
This is something that Mel Robbins teaches. She uses it to get herself to do something by counting backwards, 5-4-3-2-1, and then gets up and does that thing she doesn’t want to do. I use it for that reason, but I put a spin on it for when I’m dealing with stressful situations.
What I do is count backwards, just like Mel, but to calm myself down. Think of it like talking yourself off the ledge. You’re stepping back from that stress and anxiety and allowing yourself to feel better and breathe easier. Either way works!
Wear an Elastic Band on Your Wrist
Yes, this one might sound silly and a little extreme, but it also works. It’s very similar to the last one where you’re talking yourself off the ledge. What you is snap that elastic every time you start to feel stressed or anxious. That snap stops you in your tracks. It prevents you from going down the path of negativity and helps you possibly avoid that stressful situation. It might sound painful, but I promise you, it works.
Walk Away and Take a Break
The last recommendation I have for you will only work in certain circumstances. You can’t always leave right in the middle of a meeting or stop a car that you’re driving. When you can do this, however, it does work.
When you take a walk, you have a chance to get some air, be free of the stressful situation and clear your head. Doing this allows you to think straight. Once you’re back down on Earth, you can go back to the situation and have a fresh outlook.