Everywhere you look, people seem to be stressed out. More and more people reach their breaking point, causing them to sink into depression. These are mental health issues that are very specific to our digitalised generation. More things need to get done in less time, and the pressure is high. While this is almost impossible to avoid, there are several techniques to deal with stress. Having a method of handling your stress instead of pushing your feelings aside, is key for staying healthy and happy.
Listen to your body
Learn to recognize how your body reacts. Don’t let your “engine overheat” for a long time. Instead make sure that you set aside time to relax and rewind. Afterwards, you’ll be rested and ready to work. Both the mind and body are built for intermittent work – alternating work and rest – so don’t ignore your body when it tells you to slow down.
Can you change what triggers the stress?
Do you find yourself constantly having a lot of musts, decisions, thoughts and plans occupying your mind all at once? Most likely some of the things that you feel are important, really aren’t. Try to identify what you need to do and think about right now and what you can set aside for a later time. Then, make a schedule or plan for how you will deal with the different tasks. That way you can relax knowing that you will get to them later, and hopefully be able to concentrate at one thing at a time. If you still can’t focus, it’s time for a break!
Start taking control of your breathing. This will allow you to control your fear and stress and maintain a calm body and mind. Start by exhaling all the air in your lungs. Then breathe slowly into your belly for 4 seconds. Hold your breath for 4 seconds, before exhaling for 4 seconds. Finally, hold your lungs empty for 4 seconds and then repeat. Do this breathing exercise for at least 5 minutes every time you need it, or even every day as part of your daily routine.
Relaxation and meditation
Find a comfortable position lying down. Mentally scan down through your face, shoulders, down your arms, through your chest, down through your hips and legs to your feet and then back again. Your body should feel relaxed, calm and comfortable. Do another mental scan through your whole body, but this time engage every muscle as you go through them. At the end, your whole body should be engaged. Then release all the muscles at once. Try to also release your mind and shut off the constant chatter. Disengaging from distracting thoughts or external noises enables us to feel centered and “in the moment”.
Try to find what works best for you, and don’t be afraid to slow down or take a break if you find yourself close to your breaking point. Your health should also come first!