When You Realize You Are Stressed… You Can Override Your Common Stress Behaviors

Sep 17, 2019
When You Realize You Are Stressed… You Can Override Your Common Stress Behaviors

If you live in the modern world, you deal with stress. Everyone deals with stress. A car cuts you off and you slam on your brakes, and your heart pounds. The phone rings and you see on the caller ID that it is someone who always gives you bad news and your mood sinks. Or sometimes you just don’t get enough sleep and your energy lags. These are just some basic, ordinary events that give us stress. But what if you find yourself dealing with stress day-to-day, over and over, all the time? When this happens, people usually develop habitual stress behaviors or reactions as they try to cope. You may eat unhealthy foods, respond to others with impatience, or grab a cigarette, even though you don’t really want to do these things. Somehow over time, these have become automatic stress reactions. You can override these.

The first step is to realize when you are under stress. Sometimes just recognizing it can help you, your mind and body, not react so much to it. Second, take a moment now and make a list of go-to stress relievers you can choose when you find yourself in a stressful situation.

One of the things I do when I meditate is a certain hand position, called a mudra. Because I always use the same hand position when I am in a relaxed state with deep breathing, my brain and body now correlate that hand position instantly with relaxation. What I’ve noticed is that during a stressful situation, I can use that hand position and it will bring me into a calmer state of breathing and thinking so that I can more easily deal with what is stressful. Our bodies form patterns, and over time if we have formed unhealthy reactive behaviors as our stress responses, they seem to happen more and more automatically because our bodies are accustomed to them.

Here is how you can override them. Make a list of what you can do in stressful situations to help your mind and body handle what is happening more peacefully.

Here are 5 examples that you can try as you learn what works for you:

  1. Deep breathing – breathe in slowly for the count of 5 and breathe out slowly for the count of 5. Do this 5 times while you are assessing your situation before you react.
  2. Self-Motivation – Find or write an affirmation that you can read that you will relate to when under stress. Or save a pod cast or TED talk on your phone or computer that you can listen to with encouraging words.
  3. Call or text a friend that has your back emotionally – Sometimes it just helps to relieve stress when you tell someone that you trust and they give your words of comfort to get you through.
  4. Take a walk or go out into the sunshine – it can help if you remove yourself physically from a place of stress. Taking a walk and breathing in fresh air can sometimes give you a fresh perspective and reset your ability to cope.
  5. Quick Gratitude List – In a moment of discontent, overwhelm, or frustration, it can be helpful to make a quick list of things you are grateful for. The list serves to alter your thoughts to appreciating what is good in your life right now, and move your mind away from what is disturbing. It is difficult, if not impossible, to hold 2 differing emotions at one time, thus this quick exercise can change your emotional state quickly.

Remember, Consistent Tiny Actions Make Big Changes!