Plenty has been written about how specific therapeutic techniques can help you cope with stress. But what about daily stress management? We’re talking about the other 99% of your week when you’re not seeing your therapist? And we all need to manage more stress right now as we navigate the COVID-19 pandemic. As we say goodbye to 2020, 2021 promises a new year of new beginnings, but it’s likely higher stress levels will continue into the new year.
Thankfully there are many strategies at your disposal for when you’re feeling anxious or stressed out. Whether it’s at the office, trying to get through a hectic workday, or at home juggling a dozen responsibilities at once.
Naturally, there’s no one solution to stress management. Instead, it’s more about practicing various techniques to cope with stress than uncovering a silver bullet.
That said, here are three practical mental health techniques to consider.
1. Take a 5-Minute Mental Health Vacation
Suppose you’re in the middle of your day, and things are piling up fast. Work is stressful, and it seems like there is no slowdown to the amount you have to get done. The phone keeps ringing, and your boss is always sending emails asking for updates. It’s all too much, and you wish you could take a vacation from it all right now.
So why not? Granted, you might not be able to book a flight to a sunny island this second, but you can take a vacation in your mind. For example:
- Take a moment to be by yourself, away from distractions.
- Close your eyes and clear your mind.
- Recall either a favorite place that you’ve visited or wish to go to.
- Imagine yourself there.
- Hear the waves crashing on the beach or the wind blowing off the mountain.
- Breathe deeply and allow the air to fill your lungs.
- Let your muscles relax to release tension.
Do this for 5-10 minutes, and you’ll find yourself recharged, ready to direct your focus back on the task at hand.
2. Approach Stress With an Open Mind
Wait, what? How can stress and maintaining an open mind be compatible? After all, stress is what causes you to shut down in the first place.
This idea is undoubtedly a radical concept — but a practical one, as well. When you maintain an open mind to the present, you become more accepting. Note that acceptance doesn’t mean you have to like it. Instead, acceptance means you’re willing to face reality as it is, on its terms.
Far too many people try to take reality and shape it into something more compatible with their outlook on life. But in the end, reality stays the same. So why not practice keeping an open mind and accepting things as they are?
You’ll find that your stress levels will not be as high. Plus, you’ll be able to handle less-than-ideal situations that arise.
3. Use Breathing as Your Handrail
Consider a handrail. What is it useful for? For some, it helps with maintaining balance as you walk up or down a flight of stairs. For others, it’s a guide in the dark.
Breathing can be a handrail, especially when you find yourself stressed out. Take in a breath of air, hold it for a moment, and release slowly. Allow yourself to fall into a rhythm where you complete breathing cycles, holding inhales before exhaling. Or practice square breathing where you imagine drawing a square while you breathe.
These techniques are useful when you’re in stressful situations and feeling out of control. When in doubt, you always have control of your breathing. By intentionally practicing breathing techniques, you will find yourself more capable of managing stress.
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There are so many useful tips and hacks out there for stress management. You can start by practicing these three skills mentioned above. They can be done on your own anytime you want. You’ll find yourself calmer and more ready to face whatever the day has in store.
If you’d like to take a more in-depth approach to stress management for long term benefits in your life and feel like you could use some professional help from a stress and anxiety therapist in Columbus, please reach out for support. You’re not alone. Blue Boat Counseling offers online therapy to help with stress and anxiety. Contact us today to schedule an appointment with one of our Columbus therapists. We’re here for you.