The word “stress” has multiple definitions. One simple definition as suggested by Deepak Chopra (author of “Seven Spiritual Laws of Success”) is that stress is whatever comes in the way of fulfilling our desires. This simple definition helps us understand that most of our stress is caused by our perceptions. This would be the case when what we want is to get to an appointment on time but we are running late with the kids. Another one could be, if we are longing for a loving supportive relationship but our partner is not cleaning up the dishes. Stress reactions (often called fight or flight reactions) happen several times a day and can impact our physical and emotional wellbeing.
You know stress is getting the best of you when:
- Your heart rate is increasing
- You are breathing faster
- You may be sweating
- Your stomach is in knots
- You can’t think straight
- You are being reactive
- You are irritable
These are 7 tips to manage stress in the moment it occurs.
1. Change your focus
To experience stress you have to be putting your attention on what is not going “right”. Changing your focus means that in the moment you are feeling a stress reaction coming on, you choose to put your attention on something you can appreciate. For example, you are late dropping your kids to school. A wave a stress washes over you as you urge your kids to get their jackets on. In this moment, it is necessary to think positively. A way to look positively at the situation would be to recognize that you are privileged to take your children to school every morning. Focusing on what is good during any stressful moment can be one of the best ways to eradicate stress.
2. Breathe consciously
The absolute fastest way to feel better is to change your physiology. Breathing consciously means that you first connect to your breath and follow it inside and out. It will immediately change your posture and position. I am sure this is not new to you. You’ve heard your yoga teacher say it. You’ve read this in articles before. Bottom line: Do it! Do it every time you feel stressed. Do it whenever you remember it. Do it anytime you feel like it. As a mom, breathing consciously really is the easiest tool for self-care you will ever have.
3. Repeat your calming mantra
What you think has everything to do with how you feel. When you are feeling tensed you are repeating to yourself things like: I will never get there on time. I can’t seem to get a break. My kids are driving me crazy. etc. A calming mantra is a thought that begins to reset your mind so it can think clearly again.
4. Ask: How can it get even better than this?
We often don’t realize this but we continuously ask ourselves the same questions over and over in our heads. When stress is felt the questions that are being asked usually start with: “Why can’t”, “Why doesn’t it”, “Why don’t they”, “How come I can’t”. A better question to ask is: “How does it get even better than this”. When asking this question it is important to ask it with an intense sense of curiosity and possibility. At the core of the question there is the belief that things are good and they will also get better. It really opens a world of possibility and shifts stress into gratitude and faith.
5. Connect to nature
Nature is incredibly healing which is why going out to take a walk will make us feel better every time. Connect with what speaks to you the most. Connect with all your senses. Look at the blue sky. Touch the branch of the tree. Listen to the crunching leaves as you step on them. Breathe the fresh morning air. It’s simple and it works. In the moment, you will feel your troubles go away.
6. Drink a glass of water
One way to feel better, especially when it’s becoming chaotic at home, is to retreat to the kitchen and drink a good glass of water. Not only is it a great self-care practice but it will also force you to step out of a situation where you are likely to react negatively. This quiet pause can give you a chance to choose a more creative and nourishing behaviour.
7. Ask for what you want
When stress and tension come on it’s because one of your needs or wants is not being met. This is a great opportunity to get clear about what you want. Whenever people start saying things like: “I don’t want to feel this way”, “I don’t want this to happen”, etc. A good follow up question is: “What do I want?”. If what you want is important to you then ask for what you want. Ask it to the universe or ask anyone that can help you. Request what you want in simple and clear terms, then let it go and focus on feeling good.