10 Ways to Deal with Stress
Enjoy life like a dog would
10 Ways to Divert Your Mind from the Stress of Life
"We either make ourselves miserable or we make ourselves strong. The amount of work is the same." - Carlos Castenada.
As we near the end of the second month of 2018, it's interesting to pause for a moment and reflect on whether the year is unfolding the way we envisioned. We each look ahead and hope that certain elements of our lives and ourselves will be different and better than the past. If one of these areas we hope to improve is our ability to concentrate less on the things in life that go wrong each day, and more on the practice of diverting our thoughts to areas of our lives that are worthy of our attention, then it is helpful to create a list that can be referred to, when we find ourselves once again ruminating about situations that cannot be easily resolved. For is it not better for our health and the quality of our days to try our best to focus on the good in our lives. It is not to say that problems do not need our thoughtful attention. But to spiral endlessly in analyzing conversations that could have gone differently, or trying to find solutions where the situation may benefit from a pause, is often the type of time-wasting brain activity that will get us no further ahead in providing closure or resolution.
The following are 10 ways to divert our thoughts when we notice the pattern of rumination beginning:
1. Find positive Visuals - diverting your mind away from a stressful situation at work or home is often easier if you can redirect the eye and brain to visuals. Pinterest is an example of an idea board where we can scroll through pictures, and allow our minds to stop thinking about the current perceived issues of the day, and instead, be presented with positive visuals that will inspire and remind us of what we aspire to, our vision for our personal style, our homes, our careers. Whether it is quotes that resonate, or a wish-list of beautiful rooms, it's likely to be positive in nature.
2. The Act of doing - physically moving your body as opposed to sitting and worrying is always a good thing. We can sit at our desks, or at home on the couch, and continue to think about the stress, or we can stand up, and do. Taking a moment to look at your space, move paperwork off of a crowded desk top and into file folders or binders; or if at home make your bed, tidy the front hall clobber. All of these small tasks can help to divert your mind if even for a few minutes. Checkout the App Brightnest to add a fun way to schedule and track how you can tick off the chores on your to-do list.
3. Write down things you like and love - make a list of your current favorite shows, music, books or articles that you enjoy. Force yourself to think about a funny episode of the Office, or maybe think about sitting curled up later under a cozy throw reading your favorite author. Search for a recipe for a favourite dish, or baking treat. The positive vibe of memories of great meals will be an improvement on the spin in your brain. I love this article "Stop Worrying! Anxiety-Busting Advice from Martha Beck". It provides a welcome reminder of keeping things in perspective when the worries come a-callin'.
4. Warm Water - it's calming for a baby, and it'll work for you too. There is nothing like the indulgence of a bath with your favorite music playing, and bath products at hand to soothe the mind and slow down the thoughts. I love Thymes KIMONO ROSE Bath Salts. A lovely fragrance and it lingers long after you pull the plug.
5. Remember - change is always possible. For example, if you are in an unhappy situation for work, set a reasonable deadline to stay at the job, and then allow yourself the option of looking for something else. Put a countdown app like Countdown Star on your phone, as it provides a benchmark of what you have decided is reasonable waiting period. You do not want to continually run away from things just because there are stressful situations that arise: that is never going to change. But hope can ease stress.
6. Pause and stop - sometimes we will realize that we're on the negative train, and need to get off. Put a sticky note somewhere you will see it regularly throughout the day, and make yourself stop and notice this. Reach for your list, and try to stay in the present moment. Headspace is a wonderful app that has rave reviews for those who have wanted to incorporate mediation into their daily routines, but haven't quite been able to consistently manage it.
7. Reflect rather than Respond - how often are we caught up in stressful conversations, and find ourselves responding out of a need to defend our opinion or actions? And then later feel what you said wasn't the right thing, or didn't convince the other person. Let it go. It's okay to choose silence. Choose knowing and believing in yourself, and committ to no longer revisiting the situation. It won't help you. It feeds the spin. Just state out loud (or loudly in your head if you're surrounded by co-workers), "I'm not thinking about this anymore. I choose silence".
8. Choose a daily mantra. Some people awaken and do not look forward to the day. If you anticipate a day ahead filled with difficult people and situations, have a few written quotes to look at readily available. Find a quote over your morning coffee that resonates and scribble it on a piece of paper you can tuck into your pocket. Or download an app that will provide you with a daily affirmation. The knowledge it's there is like armour, a reminder that the past practice of being swept away by sad thoughts can be overcome if you come to the day prepared. This morning I found this one, and it resonated with me: "Become more aware of what's worth your energy."
9. Force yourself to get outside for a period of time. Go to your favourite coffeeshop and use the free wifi to visit some fun random sites that will help put things in perspective. Choose to look at something light on the internet. My husband will frequently send me funny animal clips that are seriously laugh out loud moments. Changing your mindset by being with other people (random strangers), in a different environment can be a game-changer for the remainder of your day.
10. When all else fails, the phrase, "This too shall pass" is something to cling to. The other night, I read email after dinner, and I had an immediate spin into negativity based on the tone of one particular missive. How does one not absorb into our thinking what we feel is another person's opinion of our work, or our character or personality? Sometimes it is difficult not to take things personally. And so all you can do is accept that there will be times that no walk around the block, or quotes, or warm baths are going to fix what is circling in your head. But you can remind yourself, that at some point, the thoughts will ebb away. You will get up the next morning, and get on with another day. Nothing, good or bad in life, lasts. It's a small comfort, but it's worth remembering.