Everyone has to deal with some sort of stress or anxiety, and at times it can overwhelm you. The sooner you take action to curb their effects, the less damage they’ll do to your mood and your overall health. Here are some simple actions you can take to dial back your tension when a taxing or alarming situation springs up in your life.
Go for a walk — If you’re able to leave the scene for just a few minutes, do a lap around the building or the block to gather your thoughts and push that tension out through every breath you take and every swing of your arms. Any form of physical activity gets your endorphins pumping along with your heart, giving you an instant boost to your energy, mood and ability to tackle whatever life has just dealt you.
Breathe deeply — You can do breathing exercises just about anywhere and doing them steps you back from the heat of the moment. By bringing more oxygen to your body and brain with each inhale and releasing physical tension with every exhale, you’re turning the equation more and more in your favor. There are many different types of breathing exercises, but at stressful times keeping it simple is often easiest.
Practice compassion — When you’re frustrated with how you or someone else has responded to something stressful, remember everyone is coping with situations that aren’t meeting their needs or wants in one way or another. Identifying the underlying motive behind less-than-ideal behavior — for example, yelling at your partner because you want a better relationship than seems possible in the moment — can lead you to compassion for yourself and others.
Grow your gratitude — If you’re overwhelmed by everything life is throwing at you, remembering the good in that life can put the stress and anxiety in perspective. Make a mental or physical list of what brings you happiness and comfort, from the mundane to the sublime. Humans tend to have an “attention bias” toward negative situations; make a regular point of reminding yourself of the positives.