You likely know the wonderful benefits of meditation, setting boundaries and taking time out to stop stress from becoming chronic. How about some techniques to stop stress in the heat of the moment?
Below are five unusual strategies to stop a stress-induced tailspin in its tracks.
1. Declare that you love stress – and stress loves you.
We’ve all heard that stress kills… this very piece of information can stimulate the ‘nocebo effect’ – the opposite of the ‘placebo effect’.
Negative beliefs, fear and anxiety switch on the amygdala (the fear centre in the brain), initiating the stress response.
Even thinking about how stress could be killing you sets off the stress response, which negatively effects your health… This is the incredible power of your mind in action!
Flip the script to trigger the placebo effect.
Believe stress is working for you versus against you.
Struggle and stress is necessary for growth.
We must embrace it and declare: ‘I call the shots on how stress effects me. I love stress. The adrenaline pumping through my veins gives me energy to help me swing into positive action. Stress is working FOR me.‘
2. Exit the Twilight Zone.
Often our stress arises from living in the ‘twilight zone’ between truth and fantasy – and past, present and future.
As soon as you start to feel stress, ask yourself – “Am I in the twilight zone? Are my thoughts in the past, present or future? Is what I’m thinking truth or fantasy?”.
More often than not, no tangible, immediate stress exists in the present – our only true reality (OR is it? Doo-doo-doo-doo, doo-doo-doo-doo…).
So exit the twilight zone and keep your thoughts factual and in the present.
Also remember – most of what we worry about never happens, isn’t true or doesn’t truly matter! A wise person once said “Worry is interest paid on money not yet borrowed”. Would you pay interest on a loan you’re yet to procure? I didn’t think so.
3. Visualise your problem shrinking.
This is a simple mind trick I learned from the one and only Derren Brown. When thinking about our worries, we tend to visualise them above our heads – overwhelming and theatrical-like – played out on a big stage.
Imagine the scene you’re depicting shrinking in size as you move it down to the bottom left of your vision, so it’s below you.
Incredibly this nifty technique makes a big problem seem small and manageable, so we can ‘over’come it.
4. Smile or laugh, then play the “What if?” game.
Stress can persist because of our refusal to accept a situation. Our continuing to resist it and therefore hold onto it, that keeps us stuck in a stressful state.
Letting go of a situation can be hard, so by faking a smile or laugh to turn off the stress response (and boost mood enhancing neurotransmitters), can help make the first step to shifting stress and letting go.
First, force a smile or crack a laugh. Next, contemplate how can you start accepting the situation for what it is, or telling yourself that you really wanted it.
Playing the ‘what if’ game can open up new perspectives to free you from the grips of stress:
What if I’m over-reacting?
What if this situation is a blessing in disguise?
What if the opportunity that comes out of this predicament is waaaay better than the one I think I’m losing?
What if this situation is something I need to help me to learn, grow and flourish?
5. When all else fails… meditate. With chocolate.
Cacao beans have the highest antioxidant content than any plant food on the planet! Cacao is also a great source of Magnesium – the anti-stress mineral that our body needs more of when we’re under stress.
Choose organic, dark chocolate (min 70% cocoa solids. Ideally 90%). Take one piece and place it in your mouth. Sit back, close your eyes and let the chocolate melt slowly on your tongue as you breathe in and out deeply. Isn’t that the ultimate de-stressor?!
Do you have an unusual way to stop stress in its tracks? If so, I’d love to hear about it! Post in the comments below.
This article was originally published on LinkedIn as part of a series on stress. Check out the article here.
Melissa is a naturopathic nutritionist and coach who helps exhausted women get their energy back. She consults with people worldwide via the web from her home in Melbourne, Australia.