Remember the show “I Dream of Jeanie”? I often wish that with a twitch of my nose I could remove myself from a stressful situation. Too bad it’s not that easy.
Fortunately, we all possess the power to decrease the effects of stress in our lives in an instant. Once we learn to identify our stress and the way our body responds to stress we can develop our personalized plan for decreasing stress in stressful situations.
There are many relaxation techniques, but let’s be honest. It’s not very practical to strike a yoga pose when you’re dealing with a difficult customer or co-worker. It’s also probably not the best look to begin chanting or reciting mantras in the middle of a stressful meeting.
The best way to relieve stress is through our senses. Our five senses often hold the key to quick stress relief.
If you are a visual person, stimulated by the things you can see or visualize, you may want to engage this sense as a method of relieving stress. You can practice mindfulness and be completely aware of all the sights and colors that surround you. If you are unable to find soothing or relaxing images, use your imagination and visualize something that brings you calmness and peace.
If sounds such as music, soft tones, or sounds of nature bring you quick relief, experiment with different sounds to find what soothes you the most. With the current technology, there are tons of apps that provide relaxing music and tones for free. If you find yourself in a situation in which you can’t turn up the music or place your headphones on, try humming your own little tune.
Smells and scents can be very calming. Aromatherapy is a great method for stress relief. You can visit an aromatherapist or begin a search on your own. There are tons of great websites that provide information regarding what scents are good for specific emotions. Lavender is very calming, while eucalyptus and spearmint can be very uplifting.
There is nothing like a hot cup of tea, or a cold glass of water, or a nice piece of chocolate. At least those are my favorites. Whatever you enjoy, savor the flavor. We often inhale our food in a rush and neglect actually spending time to connect with layers of flavor and textures. I really enjoy food, so often when I’m stressed I turn to a hot cup of relaxing tea. When I’m not in the mood for tea, I’ll go for something I don’t treat myself to very often and become mindful of everything about it. It’s a great distraction and I get to eat in the process. For me it’s a win/win.
Some people are very tactile and find that touching or feeling different textures provide stress relief. This can include playing with stress relief balls or other toys, petting an animal, getting a massage, taking a hot bath, or holding an object that you find comfort in.
When trying out ways to manage stress in a quick manner, start small by testing the waters with small stressors. Try not to wait until you are at a 10 to try to quickly get back to a 1. If you try a stress relief technique and it doesn’t work, try something else. Eventually you will begin to learn what works for you in particular situations, but it takes a little experimenting at first. Don’t allow your search for quick stress relief to bring about more stress because that is not the intent. When we learn to handle one small stressor effectively, we are more likely to be able to handle the big stressors when they come.