The lives we live in this digital age are full of overwhelm and stress. In the competitive cycle of trying to do more, be better, work harder, and accomplish more, we can easily lose sight of how that cycle — without pause — can affect the mind and body. By the time we realize we are stressed, we are completely drained — physically and emotionally. We look back and realize we don’t know how the stress piled up so high, and can’t remember the last time we had a real vacation. Enter: The wide, wild world of stress-management advice.
Sometimes you realize you need to start managing your stress, and other times the doctor, a significant other, friends, or children point this out for you. The advice you get from books, friends, podcasts, websites, and loved ones may sound reasonable – for a lot of people. But not for you. Somehow it doesn’t work for you.
Where does that leave you in the game of managing your stress?
Follow these tips and you’ll learn that you’re not empty-handed on stress-management advice if the popular tips aren’t your thing. There are loads of ways to manage your stress, far beyond the trendy advice out there today. Just because everyone is meditating for 30 minute a day and that doesn’t interest you, it doesn’t mean there aren’t excellent ways you can learn to manage your stress. Keep reading to find some alternatives to the popular stress-management advice on the market.
Not Into Meditation? Try Mindful Walking, Instead
Some people are more restless than others, making meditation particularly difficult to practice. (I know this first-hand because it took me years to settle into a regular practice.) If you naturally gravitate to movement, rather than stillness, go for a walk without your phone and pay attention to every detail around you. Really tune into each step you take, each flower you pass by, each rustle of the trees that you hear, and every breath you take. Walking meditation is a great way to reduce stress and relax the nervous system.
Make sure to leave your phone behind, which means no music, podcasts, or phone conversations while you walk. This time is meant for you, not anyone else. Take advantage of it as a window where you detach from tech and connect with the present moment.
Not Into Working Out? Try Movement, Instead
If the thought of working out conjures up thoughts about sweaty gym socks and a boring exercise routine, you’ll never get your cardio in.
Instead of forcing yourself to do something you don’t enjoy, find a fun activity that doesn’t sound like a chore – and that has the side effect of exercise. Think: beach volleyball, dance class, hiking, pick-up basketball, riding your bike, sightseeing on foot, or yoga class.
Not Into Yoga? Try Tai Chi, Instead
Speaking of yoga, you may be one of those people who wouldn’t be caught dead in a yoga class. Despite how many yogis are flocking to the studios, (and how there is now a studio on every block), you may oppose it. So, don’t force yourself to go.
Still interested in taking a class to help you manage your stress? Try Tai Chi. Like yoga, Tai Chi is a practice that integrates the mind and body with controlled movements and breathing. Some people refer to it as a moving meditation and others describe it as an art. Give it a try and see if it’s something you can incorporate into your life as a way to help you manage your stress.
Not Into Aromatherapy? Try Taking 5 Deep Breaths, Instead
Lavender, rose, and lemongrass may be the best way for some to cut the edge of stress, but If you don’t like those scents, it may offer you nothing more than a headache. If aromatherapy isn’t your thing, leave the scent behind and keep it simple.
Close your eyes and take five deep breaths – inhaling on a slow count of four, and exhaling on a slow count of eight. Focusing on the exhale can help you neutralize feelings of stress, and settle both the mind and the body. The outward breath is neurologically tied to the relaxation response in the brain, that’s why you sigh when you’re relieved.
Not Into Positive Psychology? Try Sitting with Your Stress, Instead
Setting intentions, positive affirmations, encouraging self-talk … this works great for some people. For others, it exacerbates the stress. If you’re in the thick of overwhelm, trying (and in some cases, failing) to focus on the positive, may hand you a greater does of stress.
If you’re one of those people who, when faced with a challenge, is turned off by the idea of looking at the silver lining, take heart. It may help you even more to really be in the moment with your stress.
On one hand, it works for many to incline the mind toward a more positive state by practicing gratitude and focusing on the positive aspects of the challenge. On the other hand, it can be helpful to really feel the difficult experience you are in – in moderation. Some levels of stress can be helpful to fuel a positive change. If you are able to really experience the stress and reflect on it, it’s likely you’ll figure out how to eliminate it and make a positive difference in your life.
Think about the last time you felt stressed, frustrated, or unhappy. Did you sink into the stress and let it overcome you? Or did it catalyze a positive change and push you forward in a new direction?