The holiday season can be one of the most stressful times for many individuals and families, and so we decided to focus on mastering stress. As always, we’ve captured our top 9 takeaways so you can continue to show stress who’s boss:
When you’re stressed, Call it.
This is the first component of our CALM methodology for managing stress. In order to start to tackle your stress, you first have to be aware #1 that you are stressed and #2 what has caused it. Coach and co-founder Katie Bennett talks about the physical and emotional reactions you may have to stress in her coach insights video like headaches, stomach aches, lack of productivity or lashing out on loved ones. Take note of these. Let these be indications to you that you are under a great deal of stress, and once you have made that realization you can start to implement strategies to combat your stress.
Ask for help.
Sometimes we feel like we need to be able to do it all, and we feel shame or disappointment when the demands of our lives become more than we can handle at a given point in time. As I mentioned in my blog about how I tackle stress, asking for help is not something to be ashamed of, it is actually a valuable skill to develop both in the workplace and at home. First, prioritize what’s mission-critical and what is most effective to be done by you. For the rest, delegate, delegate, delegate. Having a friend, partner or colleague take even something small off your plate will immediately clear space in your mind and decrease your stress level.
This third component of our CALM methodology is one of the most simple but effective techniques for mastering stress. As further described in this article, laughter relaxes the body, boosts the immune system, releases endorphins and burns calories. So the next time you are feeling that stress build up, watch a funny movie, read something comical, surround yourself with people who make you laugh and begin decreasing your stress and increasing your health.
The M in our CALM methodology encourages you to meditate to prevent and master stress. There are a variety of traditional meditation techniques which can be extremely soothing and effective. However, we encourage you to think outside the box and the traditional definition of what qualifies as meditation. Anything that helps you relax your body and quiet your mind can be considered a form of meditation, from talking a walk to doing yoga to reading a book. Explore various techniques and select the one which proves most effective for you.
Be in nature.
In our monthly social media challenge where we asked you to show us how you destress using #alvdestress, we saw a number of outdoor photos including our winning photo which you can view here. There is a calming and healing quality to nature as John Muir captured in this quote, “Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul.” This article talks more about nature’s impact on well-being including stress reduction, pain management, and mood improvement. Next time you are feeling stressed take a walk. Go for a hike. Sit outside (weather permitting).
Understand your realm of influence.
Sometimes our stress is a 100% exercise in futility. We stress endlessly about things we have absolutely no control over. We spoke with global stress expert and founder of Stressmaster International, Jim Peterson, in December’s ALV Live who said this, ” The first thing you do when you’re under stress is you need to understand if you have control of it. Some people live in the past. They live in regret and the people that may have hurt them. They dwell on the past. Some people worry about what can happen. We live in these time zones, but the only time zone we have control of is here. Live in the moment!” Understanding which of your stressors you have control of and which are simply out of your realm of influence will help you focus your attention on the things you can change and begin to let go of the things you cannot.
Retreat, rethink, respond.
This advice was shared by an ALV member in our Facebook member community, ALV Connect. She reminded the group to take a pause before reacting when facing a stressful trigger. Without time to retreat and rethink before responding, we often say things and make decisions which only lead to greater stress down the line. So when something is stressing you out and your knee-jerk response is to spring to action, take some time to think through the implications first, and you will save yourself a lot of time and stress in the long-run.
Do the ALV 999 (yes, we love the number 9 around here).
This strategy is an incredibly effective one to put your stressors into perspective and builds on point 7 around reflecting first acting second. What you do is reflect on the following as I did in this video: will whatever is stressing you out right now matter in 9 minutes? 9 months? 9 years? When I am completely consumed by something bad or embarrassing or frustrating that has happened, I often think to myself, “In the course of a lifetime what will it matter?” And most the time, the answer is it won’t matter in the long-term. 9 years from now you probably won’t even remember this experience, so allow yourself to cool down and regain control.
Breathe in. Breathe out.
As Jim mentioned on ALV Live, “When you are under stress, you do not breathe.” Such a seemingly obvious thing to do, yet we allow ourselves to slow our breathing and reduce our oxygen intake when we are stressed. Simply focusing on your breathing for a few minutes can help restore your body and bring you back to a place of calm.
We hope you find these tips useful since stress does not only surface during the holidays. Stress can show up whenever it chooses, but if you utilize even one or two of these strategies you will be on the right track to living a happier, less stressful life.