Practical Ways of Diffusing Negative Stress
Updated: Oct 21, 2019
Five-Minute Deep Breathing Escape: Allow yourself to breathe slowly and deeply to relax and clear your mind whenever you can throughout the day. Try to focus on breathing as deeply and fully as possible into your abdomen. Some people find it helps to count to four or eight on the in-breaths and out-breaths to give themselves something neutral to focus on. Breathing often allows feelings to come up because we are relaxed and not as guarded against pushing them down. Allow yourself to feel whatever comes up as you relax and just observe, without reacting . . . If you can’t completely empty your mind, try focusing on internal repetitions of positive statements which give you the emotional boost you may need at the moment.
Guided Imagery: Guided imagery can be a powerful healing tool which helps gently allow you to enter a state of deep relaxation where the subconscious mind is more open to positive suggestions. There are numerous guided meditations available from a number of online sources which can help reinforce positive thinking in your mind and help you reach your goals. I have created a guided imagery download called ‘Overcoming the Past’ which is available at www.Imaginabulous.com. Hopefully there will be more downloads available someday, when I find more time. I believe guided imagery can help a wide range of issues. You can find them for depression, anxiety, illness, etc. Just search the internet for what you need, or research how to create your own.
Progressive Muscle Relaxation: This first involves lying down in a quiet place and resting in a relaxed position and then allowing all of your major muscle groups to tighten for a few seconds and then deeply relax as you let all of the tension go. You can do this in each area of your body, working from head to toe: face, neck, shoulders, arms, hands, torso, back, abdomen, pelvis, legs, quads, calves, feet, toes . . . Often we aren’t aware of how much tension we carry in our bodies and this allows us to see the difference in how it feels to be very tense, versus feeling deeply relaxed. Use this awareness to notice when you may be feeling tension during the day, and consciously relax it away with mindfulness, massage or a gentle stretch.
Delegate Responsibilities: No one can do it all alone. We have the right to expect and ask others who share our space to help with chores or daily responsibilities. As long as we are also doing our part we need not feel guilty about asking for help or fairness. Of course, not everyone will be willing or able to help us, but we can keep working to find supportive others who are interested in partnering with us to create helpful relationships with a balance of give and take.
Ask for Help: Learning to ask for help is part of learning to get our needs met. Some of us almost never ask for help because we’ve been rejected, let down or we may not feel we deserve it. We can always return the favor, take turns and get professional help when needed, if we are able. Often help won’t come unless we ask for it, so it is a good thing to practice.
Allow Yourself to Say No: There are few things more stressful than sacrificing your own comfort level to please others. Have enough courtesy for yourself to ask yourself if you want to do something before committing to doing it. In the end, what is best for you is likely what is best for those around you. We can’t give out of an empty cup and sometimes things work out better if we allow others to step in to give ourselves a chance to practice self-care. “No” is a complete sentence and we don’t have to explain all the reasons for our decisions to everyone. No means no; if you respect your right to decline, others eventually will as well.
Make it Wait: If something does not need to be done right away and you’re exhausted and need a break, allow it to wait -- without guilt. This is not free-reign to be lazy, but we need a balance of work, rest and play. Taking care of ourselves is our job and no one else is able to do that for us better than us.
Pamper Yourself: What nurtures you? Taking time to compassionately care for ourselves allows us to be more available to take care of others at the right moments. You are as important as everyone else in your life and, if necessary, others will adapt to you taking time for yourself. Nurturing ourselves doesn’t have to be lengthy or expensive. We can read, go for a walk, take bubble-baths, listen to music, do a yoga class, eat good food, talk to a supportive friend, give ourselves a massage, etc. These are all ways we can nurture our needs on any given day.
Recite Affirmations: Whatever bothers your mind can be counteracted with positive thoughts and affirmations. If you feel insecure, recite affirmations that boost your confidence. If you are beating yourself up with guilt, say something that helps you forgive yourself and move on—over and over if necessary. It is best to keep affirmations free of negative words and in the present tense. Whatever we allow in our minds will expand, so keep it positive as much as possible.
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