What is it about stress that has us so stressed out? Our bodies tense up. We may feel nervous and sweaty. We may experience knots in our stomach, chest and at the back of our neck. And we worry, wringing our hands as the stress engulfs us. In effect, it feels like we are losing our stripes!
Certain techniques can help when we are in the throes of a stress reaction. One is to tell yourself "STOP" and then take a deep breath, hold it for 10 seconds, and release it. Do this three times in a row and you will begin to feel the calm settle in your body. This is a great technique to practice right before an exam, or job interview or while driving in heavy traffic. Another effective technique for managing stress is total body relaxation. This involves lying flat, and starting at the top of your body, tense and release each muscle. Doing yoga and meditation also help release stress.
Prevention is key to managing stress rather than letting stress manage you. Here are some of my favorites:
- Have a balanced lifestyle
- Eat nutritious foods - whole grains, fruits and veggies and drink plenty of water
- Exercise daily - take a walk!
- Do what you enjoy and learn to enjoy what you do
- Engage in meaningful activities and hobbies
- Set realistic goals and work to achieve them
- Set aside some quiet time daily to reflect and meditate
- Learn to say "no" to others when you must and "yes" to yourself more often
- Reach out - develop a support network of friends and family and surround yourself with positive people
- Play and laugh often - we forget to do this when we are feeling stressed
So when you find yourself stressing out this holiday season, STOP and ask yourself: "Is this really worth losing my stripes?"