A best practice of psychological therapy we emphasize at HAMSA Rehab Centre is managing everyday stress. You don’t have to wait till you are mentally and physically burnt out to deal with stress. It is much easier to manage stress every day with simple steps. How do you make handling stress part of your daily routine? By identifying the times when you experience the most stress and then reducing it.
Stress is predictable. Plan short and necessary calming activities around the time when stress spikes and you can manage it easily. Here are some exercises you can weave into your everyday routine for stress management.
- Managing stress in the early morning.
When we wake up, cortisol is at its peak because the stress hormone is preparing the body to tackle the challenges of the day. That is why our mind is racing with things we need to do during the day. The trick here is to spend some seconds to take calming breaths. It will centre you and make you grounded.
- The exercise: For one minute, close your eyes and pay attention to your breath. As you inhale, think “I am.” As you exhale, think “I am here.”
Managing stress in the mid-morning. At this time of the day, you are elbow deep in tasks, whether it be a job, children, or studies. While the body still feels energetic, stress has become to accumulate both on your mind and body. It is just harder to recognize it yet. Therefore, take a short break to get rid of the stress, even if you feel that there is no need.
- The exercise: Put a 60-second timer on your phone and start taking even breaths with slow exhalations. Count the number of breaths you can take. It could be 7; it could be ten or more or less. At any point in the day when you feel stressed, take the same number of breaths.
- Managing stress during midday.
When it is time to have lunch, use it as an opportunity to get rid of all stress hormones. Don’t waste it on more work or chores. Rather spend it to decompress from the anxiety and pressure of the first half of the day. The best technique to manage stress is to sit at a table meant for food and share your lunch with others. Don’t eat at your work desk!
For all those worried, that it will waste time. Begin with only 2 days a week. Check if your productivity remains the same. Chances are it will rise because you get to recharge during the meal.
- The exercise: As you sit down for your lunch, take three deep, slow breaths. Feel your feet and weight on the chair as you take the first inhale. With the second inhale notice your surroundings and the people with whom you are eating. As you take the last breath, pay attention to food, and then begin eating.
- Managing stress in the early evening.
As the evening begins to make its presence known, your energy starts to lag. Tension begins to build in the body, which leads to additional stress. It makes dealing with challenges a little more complicated. The key here is to release all the physical tension you are holding. It will engage the part of the nervous system that helps calm the body. As a result, both your mind and emotions will be soothed, and the late evening will be peaceful.
- The exercise: Go to a quiet place. Close your eyes and inhale 3 calming breaths. Each breath should be exhaled at the count of five. Now squeeze your hands into fists, hold for a second and then open then. As you open the fists, let go of any tension you are carrying.
Now take 3 more breaths. Shrug your shoulders upwards. Then let the shoulders fall back to relax the tension. End with three final slow breaths.
- Managing Stress in the late evening.
As the night approaches, the best practice is to reduce any stress or anxiety you are holding or experienced during the day. Create a strict routine that you begin every day about an hour before it is time to go to bed. Instead of scrolling through a gadget, unplug. Engage in activities that relax your mind and body. Reading, a soothing cup of tea or light stretching all are excellent options.
- The exercise: Meditative yoga is the best exercise to manage stress on a daily basis. It is easy, and it engages both the mind and the body. Start with 20-minute bedtime yoga and as you become more adept, increase it to half an hour.
- Managing stress before bed.
At night, the mind constantly obsesses over things that did not happen right or any issues that were left unresolved. The mental habit is the most significant source of stress, which leads to disturbed sleep and lack of proper rest.
- The exercise: Right before you are going to lie down, take a pen and paper and write down three things you are grateful for that happened during the day. Simple things also work like a good meal or a bright, sunny day. This simple activity diverts your mind towards a more positive feeling and helps you sleep more comfortably and wake up refreshed.
All these practices are simple techniques that anyone can use to reduce stress in everyday life. When you begin following them, take a whole week before you assess the change, they bring in your life. Slowly, you will notice that both your mind and your body is more at ease and stress and anxiety have taken a step back. Remember, it is better to start managing stress now rather than wait for burnout.