Today, I’m sharing six more ways to minimize stress and take tender care of yourself from Kate Hanley’s wonderful book Stress Less: Stop Stressing and Start Living. Because there are many genuinely nourishing ways we can feel better. And often those ways include several small, yet powerful, steps.
Sync your breath with a sound. Pick a noise that you hear several times a day, such as a siren; the words “um” or “Mommy”; or the notification sound on your phone. Whenever you hear this sound, take a full breath. Breathe deeply before doing anything else. As Hanley writes, “that’s all it takes to turn an ordinary occurrence into a chance to do something nice for yourself.”
Make your car into a serene space. Solitude “can be a key component of quieting the mind,” according to Hanley. And you probably spend many a solitary moment in your car, making it a great place for calm. How can you make your car more calming? Hanley shares these examples in the book: putting a crystal in the console; playing a soothing CD; tucking a photo of a favorite view in your visor.
Spot your triggers. Everyone gets stressed. But everyone doesn’t get stressed about the same exact things. As Hanley writes, “what sends one person into a spiral will float right by someone else.” Think about what sorts of situations spike your stress levels. Maybe it’s having a messy house. Maybe it’s waiting in traffic. Maybe it’s saying yes to a commitment when you really wanted to say no. Paying attention to your personal triggers is the first step in making adjustments (if that’s what you’d like to do).
Honor your body’s physical cues. “Feeling disconnected from your body is a source of stress,” Hanley writes. And it’s all too easy to get disconnected throughout the day. Today, instead of letting your calendar or to-do list be the boss, look to your body. Go to bed when you notice you’re tired. Go to the bathroom when you first notice the urge to pee. Eat when your hunger signs are subtle (instead of waiting until you’re starving).
Stare at a snow globe. Think of this as a mindfulness break: Shake up a snow globe. Watch the flakes settle until the water is clear once more. Hanley notes that this is a metaphor for mindfulness: “noticing when your mind has gotten churned up and then observing it until it clears.” If you don’t have an actual snow globe, you can download snow globe apps. Who knew!
Refocus on right now. Name three things that are happening in this moment. You’re sitting in a chair or on the couch. You’re watching TV. Your spouse is next to you. You’re in bed. Your favorite book is on your night stand. You’re washing dishes. You smell the lavender scent of the soap. The heat from the water feels soothing. Doing this exercise when you’re stressed out helps you get grounded in the now. Which is very helpful when your mind is racing with what-ifs and too many to-dos, and catapulting you into the future (or the past).
Just like everyone has unique triggers that set them off, everyone also responds to different strategies. In other words, some of the above might be soothing to you. And some suggestions might not be. Also, what works best for you will likely depend on the type of stressor you’re dealing with. So the same strategy might not work all the time.
In short, pay attention to what calms and benefits you. Pay attention to what soothes your stressed out soul.
Check out part one, which also features six tips here.