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Calm Your Mind, Ease Your Heart, Embrace Your Inner Wisdom

7 Simple Stress Tips to Reclaim Your Calm

7 Simple Stress Tips to Reclaim Your Calm

It’s easy to let stress get out of control, isn’t it?  Our culture rewards busyness, having too much on your plate, and constant presence – on or offline.

In the last few months alone, several friends have confessed to exhaustion.  Early warning signs appeared, but were brushed aside in order to do more.  The questioning inner voice was hushed up in order to keep going.

Does that sound familiar?

This can happen to almost anyone because it’s challenging to say no to all the external demands.  And your own inner pusher may want you to stay the course no matter what.

But once you reach the level of fatigue, you often need supreme self-care and a considerable chunk of downtime in order to recover.  It could take months.  And, if stress has tipped you over into a serious health condition, it could take years.

So why not aim for a balanced life, right now?

These 7 stress tips are not magic.  You must practice them intentionally and regularly if you would like to see results.  Most of them take just a few moments though.  And working with your favorites can put you back on the path to more joy and ease.  Check them out and see which stress tips would fit well with your disposition and lifestyle.

Stress Tip # 1:  Know Your Early Warning Signs

Get to know your early warning signs of stress.  For example, irritation, frustration, heart pounding, palms sweating, muscles tightening, etc.  Make your personal list.  Then practice catching stress before it catches you.

When stress starts to mount, how does it feel to you? What happens in your body? What emotions tend to arise? What are the small signs that occur before stress starts to boil over? Observe yourself in relation to stress and make your own personal list of early warning signs. Knowing your early warning signs will empower you to turn stress around before it overwhelms you and causes serious distress.

Stress Tip #2:  Visualize a Restful Place

Take a few slow, deep abdominal breaths.  Then imagine your favorite restful place like a warm beach, expansive mountain top, or flower filled field.  See, hear, smell, and feel all that surrounds you.  Drink in the feeling of peace.

When you use visualization to ease stress, start by closing your eyes and letting your stresses float away as you take a few deep abdominal breaths. Then, as you imagine a peaceful place, make the experience as vivid as possible. Bring all your senses alive. Feel the warmth of the sun on your skin, hear the birds chirping, or smell the fragrance wafting from a field of lavender. Give yourself the time you need for your stress to dissolve. Then gently return to the present moment.

Stress Tip #3:  Practice Good Posture

Good posture frees your breathing, enhances circulation, increases oxygen in the blood, and reduces muscles tension, which all adds up to less stress.  Practice straightening your spine, but in a relaxed way that allows for its natural curve.

Slumping will magnify stress because it restricts your breathing and has other adverse impacts on your body. Be especially cautious when you’re working or playing in front of a screen, especially laptops and smartphones. You may move into shallow breathing or even holding your breath in front of any screen. This is called “screen apnea.” If you notice you’re slumping, straighten up in a relaxed way and take a deep breath.

Stress Tip #4:  Reduce Caffeine

Caffeine can amplify stress by increasing the levels of cortisol – the “stress hormone” – in your body.  Caffeine is found in coffee, black tea, soft drinks, energy drinks, and to a lesser degree in chocolate and green tea.  Decrease caffeine gradually to avoid side effects.

While caffeine gives you a boost on the short run, when its effects wear off you may feel fatigued or depressed and the need for another boost. But it’s good to be cautious about too much caffeine because constant elevation of the stress response may lead to health effects like weight gain, moodiness, heart disease, and diabetes. I know it’s not easy to reduce or give up caffeine. Go slowly and be kind to yourself!

Stress Tip #5:  Start Early

Running late can make you feel frazzled and frayed.  Instead, lay out your clothes, gather your papers, and pack your bag or briefcase the night before an appointment.  Plan to leave earlier than usual, and set a gentle alarm to prompt yourself.

Running late for appointments can become a habit that multiplies your stress. It can get even worse if you make the person you’re meeting wait or lose out on a job because you were late for the interview. Look at your calendar at the start of each week and build in extra time to prepare for and travel to whatever appoints you have. Give yourself twice as much time as usual, and you’ll enjoy arriving with far less stress and much greater ease.

Stress Tip #6:  Let Go of Too Much!

Are you doing too much?  Naturally, you’ll feel stressed if you are.  Make a list of 3 activities, commitments, or engagements that you would really like to let go of.  Then take them out one at a time.

Why do we do too much? Often, the tendency stems from deep-seated patterns from childhood. It could be due to insecurity, the need for affirmation, or a desire to please or impress. Our entire identity may resolutely rest on how much we accomplish. Thus, it may take time to unravel these patterns and the habit of doing too much. Give yourself the time you need to look deeply and make a real change.

Remember you are worthy! You don’t have to prove yourself by doing too much. [Click to Tweet]

Stress Tip #7:  Hug Someone You Love

Hugging someone you love and trust can reduce stress and anxiety, lower blood pressure, and improve your memory.  But hugging a lesser known acquaintance or a stranger can induce stress.  Hug someone you love and trust today!

Hugging someone you trust feels comforting, doesn’t it? That’s because the gentle touch of a hug can stimulate nerve endings, which send stress-reducing messages to the brain that slow down the release of cortisol – the “stress hormone.” Trust is essential, however, because hugging someone you don’t know well can elevate stress.

So if you’re feeling stressed, cuddle up with someone you love!

What do you think?  Is there a simple stress tip on this list that you could commit to today?  Leaning forward toward the computer is one of my worst habits.  I’ll definitely work on that one!


My e-course, Living with Ease, The Mindful Way to Less Stress, offers a complete roadmap for dissolving stress and preventing it from overwhelming you again.  The course combines mindfulness, self-inquiry, and supportive stress reduction techniques to help you give stress the boot.  Check out the course details here.

Thank you. for your presence!  If you liked this article, I’d love for you to share it on your favorite social media network.   Thank you! With love, Sandra

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20 Comments

  1. I get stressed a lot and i have realised it is due to the number of things i involve myself in. Sometimes even when stressed, I wouldn’t be comfortable when my target is not met. But i will try to practice your guide to see how it will take me. Thanks –

  2. I completely understand. I’ve always had high standards too. It’s not easy to break these patterns and we want to be sure we’re responsible in our life. I’m inspired that you are going to give it a go! That’s how change happens!

  3. This was very timely for me. I’m going to try to quit drinking coffee next week. Or, at least not bring it into the house for ‘easy access’. The more I simplify, the more peace and time I seem to gain. So, getting rid of coffee is just another trial in simplification. Plus, it can wreak havoc on the hormones! 🙂

    • I’m really happy to hear that! I know we’ve all heard it before, but removing or reducing caffeine can really make a difference for us. I’m so excited for you. I wish you the best with your simplification process and I wish you all the peace you deserve!

  4. I’ve recently been feeling a sense of unease and couldn’t connect it to anything in my world. Until today that is. Today I made a decision where to put my focus first and low and behold before I knew it, that sense of unease was replaced with my usually smiling, happy place.

    Who knew, simply being undecided would create uneasiness within? 🙂 Your posts are always such a great read for me Sandra…I get reminded so often of the inner place I want to dwell in.

    • That’s so wonderful, Elle! You’re experience shows how much we can learn from self-awareness and how growth and change is a continually unfolding process. This is so inspiring.

      I’m so thrilled that you enjoy my posts! Thank you for telling me. That place of inner peace can sometimes be elusive and I think we all need reminders from time to time. I know I do!

  5. Thanks, Sandra. I started noticing the other day, as things started ramping up again in the new year, that I was holding my breath, and starting to stress over some looming deadlines. I was not aware of “screen apnea” – gosh, must learn more. Since June I have been grappling with sleep apnea, and at the time I started noticing that I was also holding my breath while awake, had me concerned. At least I noticed it. This was helpful.

    • You’re welcome, Kathleen! Yes, stress can just sneak up on us, can’t it! Noticing is huge. It’s the first step and without it we could never change. I’m so sorry that you are having to deal with sleep apnea. That can be scary. Thanks for sharing your experience.

  6. Love this post, Sandra, it’s brimming with excellent stress relief.

    I’ll add another which can be done in seconds (or longer can be so luxurious). Stretching. Even stretching arms briefly has been shown to initiate the relaxation response in the body. Same with deep breathing, which you included. I like to pair yawning and stretching – a quick way to interrupt that pesky stress.

    Oh, and to the wonderful hugging you described – I will add hugging trees. I have had a lot of experience with feeling better from hugging trees – I feel peaceful, comforted, and energized. These were actions I did daily over the summer of my most intense grief, and it was an important support, a lifeline for me. (Fortunately, I lived beside woods at the time.)

    Blissings,
    Dena

    • Those are wonderful stress tips, Dena! Thank you so much for sharing them. You’re reminding me to stretch more as the simple exercise contains so many healthful benefits.

      And thanks for sharing your personal story of hugging trees. We will all have to face grief at some point in our life so it helps so much to know how others have coped with it.

  7. Ummm… About #4…. What if it stresses me out to think about giving it up? 😉

    Signed,
    Highly Caffeinated in Arizona

    P.S. My caffeine content isn’t actually all that high. But as you know, we Virgos tend to be perfectionists about these things. 😀

    • Does it make you stressed out to drink it, Michele? If not, enjoy! Or find the right balance for you. Yes, I know about that Virgo perfectionist quality very well. 🙂

  8. Thank you for sharing these tips, Sandra.
    I continually do too much and seem to have trouble slowing down and recognizing that my stress level is increasing.
    The Universe helped me out by forcing my body to stop when I had my head injury. Here I am, 16 months later, getting ready to go back to my full time day job and I can feel the stress creeping in already.
    I’m going to work on #2; visualizing a restful place. The thing is that I would rather BE in that restful place rather than visualize it. Haha. One day.

    • I completely understand, Barbara, and my heart is with you. This is the perfect timing to be thinking about how you’ll manage stress as you move back into your full time day job and to be looking at the source of this trouble slowing down. I know that perfectly well myself because I spent a good part of my life busy, busy, busy. It’s virtually impossible to remove stress from our life entirely so we have to take that into account and some stress can be good, it gets us going. At the same time, if deep in your heart you would rather BE in that restful place maybe that’s a message that you’re not quite ready for going back full time. Only you know for sure! Thanks for sharing so openly and honestly.

  9. Thanks, Sandra, for reminding me to “de-stress”

    I notice I sigh a lot and tend to feel scattered and disorganized when I’m stressed. To de-stress and realign myself in harmony with the Universe, I stop and breathe deeply for a few minutes. This always works for me as I immediately feel the stress drain away and I can refocus, organize my thoughts and be more productive.
    .

    • Hi Gladys,

      Happy New Year! The breath is powerful, isn’t it! I’m so glad you found an approach to stress that makes you feel better right away. Thanks for sharing your approach.

  10. LOVED this! One of my goals for 2015 is to be more present. Focus on the words and world around me. Stress is nothing but a huge distraction. These were excellent tips, thank you! If it’s ok I would like to share this on my own blog, my subscribers would love reading your insight on this subject.

    • Hi Shalena,
      I’m glad you liked these tips. Stress can be a big distraction, can’t it! I would love for you to share a link to my article, but please don’t share my content. Thanks so much!

  11. Just reading these tips made me a little less stressed out! I especially love the one to “hug someone you love.” It’s amazing what a difference that makes.

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