3 Simple Ways to Deal with Stress

 Photo by  thebarrowboy

Photo by thebarrowboy

I've been there and it sucks: Facing failure, relationship problems, or family drama—all of it hits at once and then I spiral out of control and crash hard. But these three ways to deal with stress will help and they're easy.

Take Time to Calm Down

At first, you might think this doesn't make any sense. If you're juggling multiple things and the stress level is high, you might think that pushing through will help you solve the problem. Granted, it'll help, but probably only make things worse.

There's an extremely simple technique that you can use to calm yourself. Take a slow and deep breath while clenching your fists. Hold the breath for five seconds, and when you slowly exhale, unclench your fists. In growing up, my mom would always to tell us to "count to ten" when we were angry or upset and this breathing technique goes along with that.

When you show your body that you're in control (and not the craziness around you), the breathing helps you to calm down, deal with the situation and get through it.

Pamper Yourself and Make Time for Yourself

You might need some help with this one, depending on your situation. If you've young kids and no spouse around, it's going to be harder for you than if you're single and on your own. I've been in situations with my kids being young and my wife away on a business trip. I had to juggle my own work deadlines and kids crying and not wanting to go to bed.

I used the breathing tip above first and once I got the kids to bed I made time for myself. A nice hot bath, a good book and a baby monitor by me in case the kids got up. The point of this tip is simply to make time for yourself. Grab a good book, take a nice hot bath, listen to some music and go to bed early.

None of this is rocket science, but I often see friends and family members (okay, myself as well if I'm being honest) burning the candle on both ends trying to do it all, struggling to overcome apprehension and fear. In the end, everything suffers and even if the stresses are dealt with, I usually felt horrible at the end of it. But the best way to deal with stress is to admit it, let it go and take care of yourself.

I've made mistakes at work, had to put in 15+ plus working conferences while on the road and sometimes there just isn't a lot of time to relax, but the important thing to remember is to take time (no matter how small). Five minutes of listening to music with your eyes closed and focusing on how you're going to be okay and get through the tough time will help. It's a much better solution than allowing the stress to eat away at you and drain you down. Small steps matter.

Exercise the Stress Away

Before I started running, I used to sit in my chair, do my work and then go home and stress out more about work or whatever the crisis du jour was. However, I now run several times a week. I prefer running outside but sometimes that's not possible due to ice on the road so I get my exercise in on the treadmill.

If you don't enjoy running, try yoga, walking or spinning. It doesn't have to be an Olympic trial run. The point here is to get outside, walk around, breath in the air, smell the roses and pay attention to the world around you so that you can live a healthy life. There's blue sky, clouds, rain, grass, the trees and animals and creatures of all sorts.

When I focus on the world around me, rather than being stuck in my current problems, the perspective helps. A simple walk around the block can erase the stress by causing you to see outside yourself. Embrace that time, pay attention to being in the moment and remember that "this too shall pass." Whatever problems you have, you are strong enough to make it through.

Bonus: Write Away!

Okay, I cheated because I'm giving you four tips. This fourth one might seem weird to some of you, but, trust me, it'll help. I'm a writer. I've been writing since I was 9 years old. I've dreamed up worlds and imagined what happens ever happily ever after? Or, what if you decided not to have kids, how would that guilt eat away at you? What would happen if a witch regretted not having children, what would she do?

When I write, I imagine myself in another place and time. I used the writing to escape from the world around me and sometimes to work out my own problems through my writing. Now you might be thinking that you're not a writer. But I would ask you this: Have you ever kept a journal? If you did, when was the last time that you wrote in it? I have found journaling to be one of the best ways to admit what my problems are, write about how I feel about them and then let them go. Trust me, writing can help. Give it a try and you'll see.