Stress is the natural response of the human brain to being overwhelmed with anxiety, uncertainty or fear. Nearing deadlines, difficult colleagues, new techniques, complex levels, anything that moves you out of your comfort zone is a ‘stressor’. If you figure out how to handle these events and conditions that trigger anxiety in your own way, you can take control of almost any situation.
All adventures, especially into new territory, are scary.
-Sally Ride, Astronaut
1. Smoothify! Feel tired and disoriented before a big event? Get yourself a blender and a fancy sipper. Carry a glass of some slurpy goodness to work every day of the week. Smoothies provide an instant burst of energy and let you combine a whole lot of nutrition from different ingredients in one glass. Go for variety and shuffle among berries, citrus, and greens every day.
2. Greet everyone with a smile. Even though everyone on the bus seems grumpy, be the one to break the chain with a smile. You may not get one back but do it anyway, for the sake of feeling upbeat. Engaging someone in a quick exchange can ease your mind for a bit.
3. Keep your music close. Create a mix of music and sounds for relaxation and concentration. Let the soft sounds of waterfalls, brooks, and birds chirping soothe your senses. There are a couple of mobile apps that offer binaural and isochronic sounds too.
4. Acknowledge your discomfiture. Whenever you feel you are too stressed to do something right, excuse yourself for a bit and regain your confidence. Don’t try to avoid high-stress situations. Don’t go for it when your nerves are on edge, either. Instead, take the time to steady yourself. Taking a breather before a speech or performance shows the viewer your dedication and how much it matters to you to get it right.
5. Practice your muscle-relaxation moves. A sore neck can hold you back from giving your best shot. Do a couple stretches and flexes both when seated and standing to relieve built-up tightness and tension.
6. Be more conscious of your breathing. Keep a few sticky notes and tiny placards in your workstation to remind you. Breathe in for blood flow, breathe out the stress. When you want to gain better composure in anxious times, exhale longer and through the mouth.
7. Patch up ties. Sort out issues with coworkers, family or neighbors. Take it easy and initiate peace. Even if it doesn’t work, you’ll know you tried. Forgive and move on.
8. Pick healthy treats. Binge-eating is a real danger associated with stress. Your heightened Cortisol and Adrenaline levels trick your brain into thinking that the body’s energy reserves need replenishment. You might crave sugary or spicy goodies so make sure to stay away from junk and processed food which can worsen the situation. Go for a healthy snack instead. Some fruit, some nut butter, and some dark chocolate will do the trick. Switch beer cans for a glass of wine to lower blood pressure.
9. Keep your stress-buster toy supplies handy. Squeezy balls, a doodling pad, fidget cubes, anything that has the power to calm your nerves should go wherever you go.
10. Nurture something. Water a plant, de-weed someone’s garden. Get yourself a desk plant or terrarium to keep you company at work.
11. Adopt a pet or spend time with a friend’s pet. Animals can take your mind away from worldly problems and bring out both the child and parent in you.
12. Call Mom. Or Dad. Or someone who knows you well enough to understand what’s going on in your head. If you have an understanding support system, stay in touch. You don’t even have to share your troubles with them. Their presence does the magic.
13. Sleep tight, sleep right. Make sure your bed is a sanctuary that pacifies you no matter how stressed out you have been through out the day. Declutter your bedroom, especially of gadgets. Don’t do anything in your bed except surrender to sleep. You need to know how well you are sleeping. Be mindful of sleep-related problems you may be experiencing with the help of apps and wearables that sense your sleep pattern.
Anything that brings out the fight-or-flight response in you makes you stronger and more alert. Even when you mess things up, know that it’s going to be easier the next time around. You’re going to take control of the situation way tomorrow. Take it all in your stride and tell yourself you can deal with it.