Take these 4 strategies to heart to help calm your mind and prevent stress from freezing you in your tracks.
We’re living in high-stress times.
Whether you’re feeling financially strained, lonely, cooped up, worried for your health, worried about your loved ones’ health, or worried about the world at large, there’s a lot going on and it can easily become overwhelming.
I’ve caught myself struggling to keep focused, instead worrying about the state of the world right now and the impacts on my life. But gradually, I’m working to calm my mind, reframe my mindset, and keep the stress of the situation from crowding out my motivation.
How does stress affect you?
We all know that stress comes in many forms. Negative stressors and positive stressors, short bursts of stress (acute) and long term stress (chronic).
But many people don’t realize how stress, particularly chronic stress, can affect your mind and body.
Physically, your body floods with hormones, increasing your heart rate, boosting blood pressure, and pausing digestion. You also experience more noticeable signs, like clenching your jaw, tensing your shoulders, and headaches.
Mentally, stress presents itself through mood swings, anxiety, trouble focusing, and a lack of motivation.
Stress is unavoidable, but adding certain strategies to your arsenal can help you cope so you avoid chronic stress. When your situation feels hopeless, life is out of hand, or the stress is overwhelming, try these tactics to help calm your mind.
Calm your mind with these 4 strategies
Pause for 30 seconds and focus on your breathing.
As soon as you finish reading this sentence, close your eyes and take a few deep, slow breaths for 30 seconds.
Notice how your body feels. Focus on the sensation of filling your lungs. Let other thoughts go and, at least for this brief period of time, bring yourself to the present.
When we’re stressed, our thoughts seems to spiral out of control. Our minds jump to all the what-ifs and worst case scenarios. To some extent, that’s necessary — you’ve got to plan for the future, right? But we all let those thoughts get out of hand.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed, take 30 seconds to breathe deeply and simply.
Ask for help.
When we’re anxious and stressed, it’s all too easy to collapse inward and self-isolate mentally and emotionally.
I continually have to remind myself to resist that urge and reach out to friends and family. Trust me, your friends WANT to be there for you. And getting vulnerable with them about how you’re feeling further strengthens your relationship — not to mention relieving some of the weight of your feelings.
Talking to a friend may not result in a direct solution to your concerns, but unloading those feelings of stress and overwhelm at least reminds you that we’re in this together.
This is the perfect time for a little self care! I’m not talking bubble baths and mimosas — these 9 self-care strategies help keep your mind and body healthy and well!
Take out a sheet of paper or open up a fresh Word document. Set a timer for 15 minutes. Then write or type out EVERYTHING you’re feeling, no matter how small or big. Write about your financial concerns, your fears about your career, the stress of being home all the freaking time. Get it all out.
Once the timer is up, go back through what you wrote down. Make note of the things you CAN control and which things you can’t.
Oftentimes, we get overwhelmed with circumstances that we have zero control over. Big, top-level things like when the stay-at-home order will be lifted, what other people are doing to keep themselves safe, and the changes in the Instagram algorithm.
But by realizing that we have no control over these things, we can work to let them go and focus our attention on the things we CAN control, like staying home and social distancing ourselves.
Do one thing.
All those things you wrote down? Out of the things you can control, list out actions you can take towards that thing. Once you’re done, do one of those actions.
When we’re overwhelmed, it’s usually because tasks seem momentous and we don’t know where to start. But by breaking down that thing into smaller tasks and tackling one of them, you get a quick sense of completion that shows you that yes, you CAN do this thing.
Even the biggest, most daunting tasks are achievable if we break them down into small steps. Circumstances may not change overnight, but small steps add up!
Take a deep breath. You made it through the article! I hope you utilize these four tips to help calm your mind and prevent overwhelm from crippling your mindset.
Share with me in the comments below: did these tips help you? Is there another strategy you’ve found helpful?
And as always, reach out to me at chelsea(at)doyouevenpaleo.net if you want to talk! I’m always willing to listen.