I don't know about you, but I am the kind of person who needs to employ little coping mechanisms throughout the day in order to relieve stress -- especially when I'm on deadlines, or have a day packed with work, class, and social obligations. Over time, I've managed to cultivate some foolproof, instantly calming tricks on how to handle stress. They work for those moments when I feel the weight of the world on my shoulders, but don't have the time to go for, say, a deep-tissue massage, or a gentle, restorative yoga class.
When it comes to stress in general, it's worth it to remember there are legit things going on in your body that aren't really great for its sustained well-being. Oftentimes, your heart rate will increase when you're stressed, your muscles will tense up, your breath may become shallow. Sometimes you perspire, get dehydrated, or maybe you'll even feel body aches. Of course, that doesn't even begin to cover some of the more emotional feelings that overwhelm you when anxiety runs high, too.
Regardless of how stress manifests in you, it's important to notice when these symptoms crop up so you can keep them in check. Treat them like little alarm bells, in fact, telling you it's time for a moment to get centered or have a break, even if it's super duper brief.
And, trust me, you aren't alone in this. A recent survey by Paychex found that 60 percent of the 2,000 American workers they surveyed feel stressed three or more days of the work week. And according to the American Psychological Association, the current political climate has only continued to exacerbate stress for the majority of American people.
While it's always best to consult with a professional about more chronic symptoms of anxiety, there are still plenty of quick tricks that are great to have handy when day-to-day stress hits at unexpected times. So, in the name of our mental health, let's try to get calm, shall we?
1. The Right Breathing Technique
There are quite literally millions of breathing techniques out there. And the cool thing about these is that you can employ them absolutely anywhere without any kind of fuss -- on the subway, or at the lunch table, even walking down the block.
My personal favorite is easy -- inhale deep into your belly for a count of four, hold for a count of eight, and exhale for a count of four.
2. A Moment Of Self-Massage
I'm talking just a few seconds here. Bring your shoulders up to your ears, then drop them down. Give each shoulder a few good kneads and squeezes with the opposite hand.
Add a neck roll while you're at it.
3. Make A Gratitude List
For me, getting myself out of my head is always a must when stress runs high. Whether you want to channel you negative feelings into something positive on a post-it note you keep nearby, or if you even just want to type up a little note on your computer, make a list of things you're grateful for in your life.
It could be as simple as your morning cup of tea, the pink socks you've got on, or the visit you had with your niece last week. It's not just a form of distraction -- gratitude can make you happier on the whole.
4. Ask Someone Else How They're Doing
This is another great way to get yourself out of your own feelings for a second. Send a quick text to a friend, or just turn around toward Ron in the accounting department to say, "Hey, Ron. You good?"
5. Keep Essential Oils Nearby
Elite Daily spoke with Theresa Kroog, a yoga teacher and nutritionist at The Vitamin Shoppe, who had some great things to say about essential oils and the powerful ways they can affect your mind:
Certain oils and scents can invoke positive emotions and states of mind, and can create a space for the body to allow for longer, deeper breaths, calming the parasympathetic nervous system.
She recommends oils with soothing qualities, such as lavender, chamomile, or ylang ylang. If you're going for a more meditative thing, go with frankincense, sandalwood, or rose.
This Thrive Every Day blend from The Vitamin Shoppe is personal favorite, and it's one she uses both when she practices and teaches yoga.
6. Slather On A Soothing Lotion
If you don't want to keep essential oils or a diffuser around, how about an aromatic hand lotion like lavender?
This Dr. Bronner's one is my own personal favorite.
7. Tea Is Key
If you have one of those hot water dispensers in the office, pop a peppermint or chamomile tea bag in a mug, and make a quick cup of tea.
There's honestly nothing more soothing during a busy day at the office.
8. Close Your Eyes
Tell yourself it's all good.
Because really, I promise, it will be.