When your body reacts to perceived stressors, you shift into fight-or-flight response. Your body perceives a threat, even if there isn’t one. Not only is stress an uncomfortable experience, it has a negative impact on your immune system and mental health.
Although we may have developed a strong yoga and meditation practice, no one is immune to stress; it often hits us when we’re out living in the world. We need simple practices that can invoke a relaxation response while we’re stuck in traffic or making a big presentation.
These five techniques translate easily into every environment. By drawing on age-old wisdom and modern science, they can help you keep stress at bay.
Ten Deep Breaths
One easy way to offset a stress reaction is to follow your breath. Research from Harvard Medical School confirms that steady, deep breathing can lower stress by relaxing your mind, body, and spirit. Next time you feel stress rising, count ten deep breaths.
A Brisk Walk
Stepping away from a stressful situation with a brisk walk outside gives you the opportunity to exercise your stress away while getting some fresh air. One study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine found that green spaces can have a particularly calming effect on a person’s state of mind. Instead of worrying, step outside — even for five minutes. You’ll feel better, regardless of the outcome of the stressful situation.
Is there a funny meme or YouTube clip that always makes you laugh? When it comes to stress, laughter is a powerful way to change your state of mind. It relaxes your body, decreasing the presence of stress hormones. Next time you feel stressed by a situation, try to see the humor it. By reframing the circumstance, you loosen the hold a stressful situation has on you.
By boosting your self-esteem and countering feelings of overwhelm, affirmations can help you manage stress. Next time your anxiety is getting the best of you, find a short affirmation to repeat in your mind. A lot of yogis choose a simple “I am” meditation. By saying this phrase over and over again, you bring yourself back to the present moment.
When I feel stressed, I like to affirm my own capability to tackle the challenge. I say, “I am open and willing to solving this problem.” Two academics confirmed that these simple affirmations can buffer the body’s stress response, setting you up for success.
Sometimes, our overthinking minds lead us to the worst-case scenario. To beat the stress that overthinking causes, we need to challenge that kind of doom-and-gloom perspective. Next time you find yourself thinking negative thoughts, ask yourself, “Is this true?” Slowly shift to better-feeling thoughts — you’ll probably feel a tangible sense of relief.
These five go-to techniques can help you during any stressful situation, whether your flight is delayed or you’re about to meet someone for a first date. Start with the approach that feels best to you, or use a personalized combination to find the sense of calm that feels right for you.