Finding Your Center During Stressful Times
No matter how hard we try to avoid it, or try to plan our lives out perfectly so that stress doesn’t creep in, there is no real way to completely avoid stress. Work can be overwhelming. Family can be overwhelming. Life itself can be overwhelming. There is no way around it.
When stress hits we can feel scattered, manic and out of control. We can feel like we aren’t ourselves. Our minds can wander. We can forget the simplest of things and our emotions can seem completely out of control. You may want to take on the world and a 25-point long “to do” list, only to find you are so out of sorts that you are lucky to achieve one or two things. This is stress taking its toll and this is you being out of balance.
While stress can be very difficult to deal with and can event lead to some health issues if you aren’t careful, it doesn’t have to rule your life. There are ways to combat stress. While you may be not able to ward it off completely, there are ways that you can find your center and find balance when life throws stressful situations your way.
When you take the time to really find your center and bring that important balance back into your life, things around you will start to change. Your to do list won’t seem so impossible. You won’t feel like you are about to cry, or yell (or both) when something else goes wrong. Most importantly, you won’t feel out of control.
These tactics to finding your center are actually quite simple. In fact, they may seem overly simple, but really that’s all it takes. The problem is, that most people don’t think that they have a minute to stop, breathe and focus on finding their center during these overwhelmingly stressful times. Stress can put blinders on us and make it difficult to see the simple things in front of us.
1. Stop and Take a Breath
We’ve all heard it before while we’re stressed. That overly calm person that interjects and says “just relax and breathe.” While their advice may sound overly simple in the moment, it is actually a great way to regain your composure and your center during times of stress. Restoring your normal breathing patterns is actually a really important way for your body to recover when you are feeling stressed—especially if you are exhibiting physical symptoms of stress such as rapid heartbeat, sweats and trouble breathing.
Here’s all you need to do: stop and take a big inhale in for three full seconds. Hold it in for three full seconds. Exhale for three full seconds. Then repeat.
Do this several times until your breathing will return to normal. Your heart rate will go down. You will feel more relaxed and most importantly, you will feel more centered.
2. Use Your Affirmations
Simple mantras or affirmations are extremely powerful in individuals that become overwhelmed with stress. If you feel out of control and overcome by feelings of stress, focus on a mantra or affirmative phrase. It should be something short and sweet and to the point, but something that you can relate to. It can be “it will work out,” or “I can do this,” or “this isn’t that bad.” When you feel stressed repeat it to yourself slowly and steadily until you feel as though you are back in control and re-centered.
3. Just Leave
No, this doesn’t mean quitting or giving up, it means literally removing yourself from your current space. For many people, feeling overly stressed can literally make it feel like the walls are closing in. If you feel scattered and overwhelmed from stress, just leave the space you are in—literally. When you leave the space physically, your mind will follow.
It can be as refreshing as stepping outside and going on a walk, or it can be as simple as leaving the room and finding solace in a bathroom stall. If the space you are in, such as your office, is bringing about your stress, the physical act of removing yourself from that negative energy, even if it’s only for a moment can have a major effect on how you handle stress and can leave you feeling more centered, balanced and stress-free.
4. Give Yourself Permission to Feel Less Stressed
If you want to find peace amidst a stressful situation, then you first need to allow yourself to find peace. There are so many people who actually keep themselves in a cycle of stress because they don’t think that they are allowed to feel at peace when they are experiencing stress. If you mentally allow yourself to feel at peace and tell yourself “It is OK to feel calm right now,” it can really go a long way in helping you get re-centered.
When you think about it, why do we feel at peace when we are at the spa or the beach? It is because we are allowing ourselves to feel that way because of the environment. Why do we struggle so much to find peace when we are highly stressed? Because we don’t think we are allowed to feel peaceful when stressful situations are raging around us.
Allow yourself to relax and remind yourself it’s OK to feel that way and it will be much easier to calm yourself down.