I did it again. I awoke the day before a big presentation, and realized I had procrastinated for weeks leaving myself until the last minute to get everything done. I was time crunched, stressed, anxious, and worried. Why had I done this to myself again? I immediately felt a need to reach for the donuts, pizza, and french fries.
Stress Management is such an important topic. Everyone, including myself, has their own challenges with stress. But before we really delve into how to manage it, I think it’s important to learn what it is. Stress is something that happens when we feel overwhelmed by things happening in our life. But if you break that down even further, the only time we experience stress is when we leave the present moment and we get caught up worrying about possible future scenarios that may or may not even happen.
In fact one of my favorite quotes that describes this is by Mark Twain, and he says: “I have known a great many troubles, but most of them have never happened.”
On the other hand, distress Intolerance is a perceived inability to fully experience unpleasant, aversive, or uncomfortable emotions, and is accompanied by a desperate need to escape the uncomfortable emotions.
Life coach, Marie Forleo, (who by the way, has an awesome TV channel on Youtube called MarieTV) has a phrase, or mantra if you will, that I love. She says: “Everything is figure-out-able.” And it is.
Now, I want to share some truths that immediately stop you from being in stress mode, and shift that energy to something more productive, like action or healthy coping.
1. Tune into your present moment.
So if you find yourself stressing out, the number one thing you can do to effectively manage stress is you’ve got to slow down, get out of your head and tune into the present. This is the essence of Mindfulness and meditation and my #1 favorite thing I love teaching my clients
Your present moment is where all of your power and control exists. It doesn’t exist in the past, because that’s over with, it’s done. We can’t change it. And it sure doesn’t exist in the future because it hasn’t happened yet. We ONLY have our present moment at any given time. Ever. It’s all we have. So mindfulness is essentially training your brain to be in the present moment. Which is not easy, and takes practice and training.
You can start by learning to tune into your surroundings. Whatever your’e doing, notice what you see around you, the textures and colors. Notice what you hear. Notice any smells. Notice how you feel right now, and what that feels like in your body. Notice your breath, and your belly slowly rising and lowering. Even if you’re eating, notice the textures, flavors, taste, and essence of each bite you take.
2. Learn to sit with and tolerate your Emotions.
Difficulties tolerating distress are often lined to a fear of experiencing negative emotion. When you truly think about it – we constantly try to avoid, escape, and repress how we truly feel. Instead of sitting with it, and letting it be. The more we resist and repress, the bigger and stronger the stress, worry and anxiety gets. One of my favorite things to teach clients is about Emotions.
Emotional Intelligence is one of the biggest predictors of life success, even more so than IQ. Emotional Intelligence is essentially Emotional Awareness mixed with Emotion Regulation. We can regulate and manage our emotions (including stress), if and only if we have Awareness first.
3. Stop stressing & Take Action!
Engage right now. Whether it’s physical: a phone call, a conversation, go on a walk. Or whether it’s spiritual: taking some time to just slow down and breathe, maybe pray and ask for some guidance from whatever your higher being may be. The point is that you are actively engaging in your life and coping in a healthy, productive way.
4. Remember what you do and do not have control over.
Nothing is worth getting stressed out over. Have you noticed that everything seems to work out in the end? Another one of my favorites quotes that really speaks truth to worry and stress is from Eckhart Tolle, which says: “Worry pretends to be necessary but serves no useful purpose." Stress and worry is poisonous to your productivity and health. And it literally serves us no benefits whatsoever.
It only serves to increase our cortisol, the stress hormone in our blood, increase our heart rate and blood pressure, increase anxiety, and leads us towards our unhealthy coping habits. Worrying when stressed may be one of those unhealthy habits that pretends to be necessary.
5. In the end, the only 4 options we have in life are the following:
- We can Problem Solve – (only when we have some degree of control over the situation/issue).
- We can Change how we Think and Feel about it – (long-term happiness is 10% what happens to us and 90% mindset: how we choose to perceive it).
- We can Completely Accept it – (which includes not resisting it or trying to change it).
- Or we can Stay miserable – (live in stress and worry). And this IS a choice.
Challenging your Irrational Thoughts and Beliefs that are fueling your stress and uncomfortable emotions is key when it comes to managing your stress and creating different results in your life.
6. Self Care is HUGE. Prioritize it.
Self-Care is NOT selfish. Put at least 3-4 daily habits into place that help you manage and ultimately prevent stress.For example:
- 7-8 hours of sleep a night
- 10-20 minutes of meditation
- Eating clean and healthy
- Daily exercise.
What do you do to manage stress? What are your top stressors right now? What part of stress management do you do well? Where could you use a little work? Let me know in the comments below.