2 Easy Ways to Instantly Destress
“I’m so overwhelmed.”
“I have so much to do.”
We’ve all heard (and probably said) variations of these three statements! The truth is, most of us are walking around with some degree of stress. But are we paying attention to the signs… or just going on with our day? Below are 2 easy ways to help you feel calmer, more relaxed. and less stressed.
1) Stop Should-ing On Yourself
Choose to eliminate the word “should” from your vocabulary. At the very least, start to pay attention to when and how often you say it. When we say “should”, we are setting expectations for what our life “should” be like. This is a big cause of stress: expectations we put on ourselves and our loved ones. We add so much drama to our life because of what we think our life should be like, should feel like, should look like. We have ideas of how our kids should act, how our houses should run, how we should act as a parent, what our family vacation should be like, etc.
All of these expectations get us into trouble. Why? How do you feel when you think things “should” be a certain way but they’re not? How do you feel when you think you “should” be doing something that you’re not doing? How do you feel when you think someone else “should” do something they’re not doing? How do you act when you feel that way? It’s a vicious cycle.
What you think about drives your feelings, your feelings drive your actions or reactions, and then, voila, that’s your life. When you think your parents “should” want to babysit your kids on vacation and they don’t, how do you show up in your relationship with your parents? When you think your husband should want to hold your hand, how do you act when he doesn’t? These examples have deep roots in emotional intelligence and there is much research how it affects us.
For now, stop ‘shoulding’ on yourself and those you love. Become very aware of when you say the word “should”, how often you say it, and how it makes you feel.
2) Stop, Breathe, Look
Look for moments during your day to have what authors Dr. Stixrud and Ned Johnson term as ‘radical downtime’. Instead of reaching for your phone or filling your day so full of tasks, errands, or activities, look for opportunities to do nothing. Yes. Nothing. Letting your mind wander is the time when magic occurs. It’s when our bright ideas come to us when we process when we self-reflect. Yet, we tend to fill our days so full so that we don’t have time to reflect on how our lives are going. We live regretting actions from the past or worrying about the future. Neither are helpful.
Bring yourself back to the present moment. Look up. What does your body feel like? What do your feet feel like in your shoes? How are you holding your shoulders? The more breaks you take during the day to check in with yourself and your body, the slower time will pass and the less stress you will feel. Your days will be more fulfilling because you’ll be in the moments with your kids, your family, and your self. Another bonus? You’ll be less reactive and calmer.
Want an easy way to start? Whenever you get to a stop light, stop, breathe, and look. Stop the car. Don’t reach for your phone. Breathe in through your nose and out of your mouth. Look around and notice one thing: a tree, a car, the sky, something. Your mantra is: “Stop, breathe, look”. Try it for even one ride and you’ll notice a difference in your physicality. You can do this with other people in the car, either with them or without them noticing. Try it and share your experience.