If the previous relaxation technique isn’t practical, perhaps because you’re at work in an open plan office, create some physical and emotional distance from the stressor. Walk away and find a quiet place even if that’s sitting in your car or a bathroom.
Take a couple of deeper breaths and imagine yourself far away. See the stressor for what it is. See it as small and manageable and notice how much calmer you feel. You are much more able to think clearly, to consider the problem or stressor calmly and rationally, and plan what you are going to do about it.
Meditation – Methods and techniques
Learning how to mediate can bring an abundance of calm and relaxation into your life. The methods and techniques take practice and patience but they are worth it.
Anybody can learn mediation techniques, either by attending a class, or learning at home through mediation videos and CDs.
A lot of people who are successful in their chosen field, and who have also managed to overcome stress, mediate, even if they haven’t learnt how to do it in any formal way. You might be able to think of some people like this; they never rush about, and you might sometimes happened on them sitting in their office, appearing to do nothing, just sitting and thinking. If you become good at mediation, eventually you’ll also be able to mediate without even thinking about it.
Breathing and relaxation
When we are born we breathe properly, ie with our stomachs. As we get older we learn to breathe in a more stressful way, from the chest.
“Belly breathing”, as it’s known, can be very effective with managing stress. With this type of breathing, when you breathe in, your stomach should move out as your diaphragm expands, if this doesn’t happen at the moment, then you can learn a new breathing technique.
This type of breathing is a professional stress management technique, and many actors and opera singers use it. Not only can breathing in this way help to overcome nerves as it relaxes the body, it also improves your posture and voice, helping to build self-confidence.
Progressive muscle relaxation
Your doctor or a professional stress management trainer might teach you some exercises which are known as the progressive muscle relaxation technique.
This means that you very gently tense and relax every muscle in your body, bit by bit, starting at your head or toes, and working to the other end of your body, all the while breathing in and out slowly.
This exercise can produce enjoyable physical feelings of relaxation and can be a very effective technique for relieving stress, however it is not a good idea to try it if you have had many muscular-skeletal problems or injuries in the past. If you are in any doubt, then you should consult your doctor.
You’ll hear about lots of different therapies, many of which involve relaxation. Many of these therapies involve other elements, for example reiki works with the body’s energy fields, and this may be of interest to you, but even if it’s not, you might find the relaxation side useful.
These types of methods and therapies include reiki, reflexology and various forms of massage. Do some research, read about different therapies, and maybe visit a local clinic to find out what’s on offer and find the most suitable treatment for you.
Some of the less “alternative” therapies include Jacuzzis, steam rooms and spa pools. You may also have heard of flotation tanks, also known as sensory deprivation tanks, which can be very effective, although you may find that a nice hot hath also does the trick.
Problem solving helps you to define what the problems actually are. It helps you divide the problems into smaller, and therefore more manageable parts. You can them look for solutions, options and ways forward – in other words, alternatives to stress.
The following are two very effective and practical ways of approaching problem solving.
Find a “problem solving partner”, someone either at home or at work who you can talk to about your problems, You will probably find that just talking it through will be very helpful, but having someone else to ask questions and give a different perspective also helps.
Problems that seem huge and insoluble when rattling around in your head can seem much less complex once they are out in the open.
If you don’t have a problem solving partner, or they are not available, write the problem down.
Again, you’ll be amazed at how the stress evaporates and how you’ll be able to work through the problem to find the answer, just by getting it out of your head and onto paper.
Have a plan to beat stress
This is another practical exercise to beat stress. Get a pen and piece of paper. At one end of the piece of paper, write down (using either words or pictures, whichever works best for you) where you are now, and at the other end, where you would like to be. For example, at the moment you are stressed because you are not getting on at work with someone, and you would like to be calm and happy and getting on well with all your colleagues.
In the centre of the page, write down the problems and obstacles that have to be overcome so that you can get to the other side of the paper. List some potential solutions as well, along with anything that you may need to change within yourself to reach your desired yourself to reach your desired outcome. This is just an idea – you can make your plan as simple or as complicated as you like, and you can include anything that will help you to analyse the problem and think it through to a positive solution.
Overcoming stress – A simple technique
This technique is similar to an earlier exercise. The first thing to remember with problem solving is that you need to recognize the signs that there is or could be a problem. Learn to be aware of the triggers. As soon as you start to notice the pressure building up, and you feel a creeping feeling of stress, make a list.
Write down everything that is bothering you – the big problems, but also the little things that have been nagging at the back of your mind.
However small or trivial it may seem, if it has been whizzing round your brain lately, write it down. Once you have everything on paper you will be ale to think more clearly, and it won’t look or feel as bad once your have got it out of your head.
You do have choices
It’s important to realize that at any one point, you do have choices, even if it feels as if you don’t. For example, if you are feeling under pressure at work, due to large amounts of overtime etc, you may feel that you have no choice but to resign. This is still a choice, even if it would be better if you didn’t resign.
It’s empowering to think about what choices you have. To make it easier, imagine yourself in he future, looking back at yourself now. Give yourself some perspective.
Or you could imagine a very assertive person that you know. What would he or she do in the same situation? What might you do if you were a different person? Actually, you have the same choices. You might you do if you were a different person? Actually, you have the same choices, you might also want to discuss it with a friend. What would they do?
Speak to someone who isn’t personally involved. Brainstorm a whole load of different choices easy, hard, silly, extreme choices – put them all down together to get you thinking in this way. This may not solve your problem, but it is the first step to creating choices, even if you don’t act on them. Start to act like a person with choices, and you’ll already start to feel better.
Problem solving for the future
Problem solving doesn’t have to be just about current problems or problems as they occur. Where it’s possible, you can also pre-empt and plan ahead for times of stress.
Know what your stressors are, when they are going to occur, and prepare for them. Get yourself in good shape.