I can spout page after page that would support the amazing benefits of meditation and yoga and countless other techniques that help prevent and manage stress. But the reality is that life happens and so does stress. AND stress happens during life.
So, if you I am in a hurry because I’m running a bit late for an important appointment and am smoothly traveling down the highway just about 10 minutes from my targeted point of arrival, about to make it just in time, and suddenly I see a huge bottleneck of red lights up ahead, I can’t really take a moment or two to meditate and start chanting my mantra or assuming my preferred stress-reducing yoga pose.
What I need is a method that can bring me some type of stress relief in an instant; things that will work for me while I’m in the midst of a real-life stress-producing situation. And I’m sure I’m not the only one. If we are to be able to improve our self-awareness (the ultimate goal,) and we know that stress blocks our ability to do that so we need to handle the stress in our lives as it arises (which it definitely does) then we need to be able to develop ‘in the moment’ stress reducing methods for ourselves that can help us undo the immediate damage that stress can do to cause us to waver off track. In other words, we need something that can help us handle the derailing impact that stress can have on us.
Simply put (and current research backs this up again and again), the quickest, most effective thing we can do to combat stress like this is to engage our senses immediately. This sounds vague, but only because each of us, needs to develop our own, individual stress-busting tool kit. While we all have the same senses to work with, each of us has specific and individual preferences. And each of us has to find what works best to help us combat stress in the moment for ourselves.
We need to discover what sensory experiences have the most calming effect on us and works best for us. Amazingly, there are certain materials we can touch, or specific scents we can smell that have the ability to instantly relax us and help us focus ourselves. The trick is to learn what they are and have them readily available for any time we are hit with a heavy dose of stress-producing life events.
This process can and should involve all our senses, the more the merrier, actually; so inspiration is all around us. Experiment with a variety of sensations with the ultimate goal being that you always have something around you that you can easily do to combat your stress and be able to relax.
• Those you Know. What do other people you know do to blow off steam? Do you know anybody who feels more relaxed after a long walk? Do you have any friends who listen to music and find that helps them unwind? Maybe if you try some of the things you’ve seen other people do to relax, they might work for you too.
• Power of Observation. Popping gum, although some may find it annoying, can help release stress. Baseball players seem to find it helpful, just watch many of them when they’re getting ready for their turn to hit. I’ve seen some performers do some type of fanning motion with their hands to generate a burst of nervous energy and rid themselves of tension just before going on stage. Talk to people who know how to handle pressure and stay focused. You may hear something that can work well for you too.
• Reflection. Did you have a favorite stuffed doll or fabric that provided you with a relaxing sense of touch. Why not put a small swatch of something tactically comforting like velour where you can reach it easily when you have a stressful event to face. Different textures can help people feel much calmer. Try different things until you find what works best for you.
• Some moments of silence – on the way to work in the morning or on your commute home in the afternoon, instead of radio or using your cell phone, try riding in silence.
• Self-Administered hand massage – if you’re on line at the store or in the waiting room at the doctor’s, try it. Can you say “S O O T H I N G?”
• Aromatic Tea – this one employs the sense of taste and smell and can work wonders before a meeting at work that can carry tension and stress with it.
Making a habit to incorporate an off-line time for yourself on a regular basis (no phone, computers, television) can provide a no-intrusion zone and ease stress and tension.
These are just some basics to helping develop some quick stress relief habits and employ ourselves and our senses in the process. It is always something we can have with us, anytime, anywhere, a preventative defense for whatever life throws at us that we can call on to help us regain our sense of balance.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Judy is a licensed clinical social worker and has worked extensively as a counselor with children, adolescents, couples and families. Judy’s professional experience in the mental health field along with her love of writing, provide insight into real-life experiences and relationships. Her fresh voice and down-to-earth approach to living a happier, more meaningful life are easy to understand and just as easy to start implementing right away for positive results!