Imagine you're in the midst of a juggling act — work deadlines on the one hand, personal commitments on the other, and then suddenly, someone tosses you a flaming torch called unexpected stress. Sound familiar? You're not alone.
Juggling all parts of your life can get stressful, but learning to center yourself is key to maintaining balance. To help take a bit of the weight off next time you’re feeling overwhelmed, let’s talk about some ways to master the art of calm in the chaos and transform stress from an enemy into a manageable companion.
The first step in any great adventure is understanding the lay of the land. In this case, it's about knowing your stress triggers. These are the situations, people, places, or even times of day that crank up your anxiety levels. Recognizing your triggers is like having a map in a foreign city — it helps you anticipate and prepare for potential stress hotspots.
Deciphering these triggers isn't always easy. You might need a tour guide in the form of a mental health professional. Psychiatrists, for instance, are expertly trained to help you identify and understand your stress triggers, turning that overwhelming map of stressors into a navigable roadmap to peace.
Have you ever noticed how you breathe when you're stressed? Short, shallow, rapid breaths — and the longer it goes on, the worse it gets. When you get stuck in this mode, it’s more likely that you’ll trigger a panic attack, which only makes your stress feel more stressful. Learning some breathing techniques like mindful breathing to help calm your body down can help calm your mind, too.
Here's how to do it: Sit comfortably. Close your eyes. Take a slow, deep breath in, hold for a few seconds, then slowly exhale. Repeat. Focus on your breath, and if your mind starts to wander, gently bring it back.
Now that you're comfortable with mindful breathing, let's take a step further into the realm of meditation. Not only can meditation help decrease stress levels, but it can also improve your overall well-being.
How does one meditate? Here's a crash course: Find a peaceful spot, sit comfortably, and focus on your breath or a mantra. It may take you a while to really find your groove with meditating, so it’s important to focus on progress, not perfection.
You know what they say — you are what you eat. But we'd like to add a bit more to that. You are also how you move and how you sleep. Good nutrition, regular exercise, and adequate sleep form the holy trinity of a healthy lifestyle, and they're all closely linked with stress levels.
Eating well and staying hydrated can improve your mood and overall well-being, which has an effect on your mental health. Additionally, regular exercise can have a positive impact on stress levels and anxiety, so if you find yourself feeling overwhelmed, working out may help you find your center.
A positive mindset isn’t about ignoring reality and pretending everything is perfect — there’s such a thing as toxic positivity, and it can be equally damaging to your wellness and stress levels. Maintaining a positive mindset is more about shifting your perspective and focusing on the good rather than the bad so that you don’t give yourself permission to spiral.
When stress starts to mount, remind yourself of the things you're grateful for. Try to find even the smallest positive in any negative event to help balance your perspective and keep yourself from being consumed by stress.
No person is an island — we need our tribes. Connecting with loved ones can be a stress-buster of the highest order. Not only can going for a long walk with your partner or having a few drinks with your best friends after a stressful week reduce your stress levels, but the people in your life can help re-center you by providing some much-needed perspective to whatever you're dealing with.
Schedule regular catch-ups with friends and family, even when you’re busy. In fact, it’s especially important to make time to connect with family and friends when you’re feeling stressed and overwhelmed because it can help you wind down and take a breath, meaning you’ll be recharged when you return to whatever situation is causing you to stress.
Life can be a rollercoaster of ups, downs, twists, and turns. While we can't control the ride, we can certainly control how we respond to it. From understanding your stress triggers to practicing mindful breathing, meditation, maintaining a healthy lifestyle, cultivating positivity, and staying connected — each of these strategies can help you navigate stressful times.