I don’t know about the rest of you, but the past few weeks have been a little too high on the stress meter. And we all know that living with a heightened stress level is so very unhealthy. So for those of you in the same boat, here are my top 5 strategies for getting my stress level under control:
Step One: Disconnect --- We live in a society that pushes us to be connected to all forms of information constantly. That means second by second updates and massive amounts of information to process. And while our brains are incredibly intricate and adept at processing, we are not machines. We need time to evaluate, understand and prioritize the information that is coming in. Whether the information comes in the form of colors, sounds and smells in an overly crowded county fair or as the flashing of beeps and notifications that control us on our multiple devices, information overload happens. So now more than ever it is important to take time everyday to completely disconnect. Unplug. Untether. Literally and figuratively free yourself. Go for a walk without your phone or watch. Go on a drive and leave your device behind. Get away from anything electrical. Let the only pulse you feel be the one created by your heart beating in your chest and the pulse of nature around you. The news, cute animal videos and massive amounts of information (and misinformation) will all be there when you return. Feeling even braver? Then pare down what you are connected to on a daily basis. Begin to ween yourself away from social media and up to the second news notifications. Reconnect with the real world and real people. You may find that you are better able to fully engage in the present if you disconnect.
Step 2: Connect --- When I am feeling really stressed, I take off my shoes and find a nice patch of earth and just let my feet feel the warm beneath them. In alternative health circles this is called “earthing”. Some folks believe that like smudging, earthing changes the balance of negative and positive ions. The earth has a negative charge, and we have a highly positive charge. Earthing can bring you more into balance. Think about how you feel when your feet hit the sand at the beach. It’s those negative ions that make us feel so relaxed. And don't forget to breathe.
Step 3: Connect Some More --- Hug someone. In these times of heightened stress, the power of a hug cannot be overemphasized.
Step 4: Connect Even More --- Instead of rehashing with folks all of the negative things that are circling around and tossing it on to the next guy, choose to connect with those around you in a kind and loving way. It doesn’t take much. A smile, a door held open, an extra dose of patience in line, a simple thank you are small acts that can change everything. Each one of your acts of kindness creates a strong and powerful ripple in the pond that impacts the world in a positive way. When I am checking out in a store I go out of my way to thank the checkout person by name. This is a simple act that is so easy to do since a name tag is staring me in the face. That little, tiny act of recognizing the cashier as a human being with a name doesn’t take much on my part, but the reaction on the face of the cashier shows the depth of the action. Radiate kindness and love in all directions. We need that now more than ever.
Step 5: Connect to Your Core --- Embrace silence. Whether that silence is prayer or meditation, spend 5 minutes or more a day purposefully cultivating silence in your brain. Start by focusing on your breath — each inhalation and exhalation. Begin to quiet the mind and the body. Allow yourself to be comfortable in that space found between words. Your brain and spirit will thank you for the break from the constant internal and external chatter.
Stressful things happen on a minute by minute basis. When chaos is circling around me, I intentionally nurture an inner state of peace by first disconnecting and then reconnecting on a deeper and more meaningful level with what really matters most. Then, and only then, can I truly focus, process, engage and react.
How do you manage stress? Share your strategies below!
In Health and Balance,