Yesterday was the last day of my stress management class, and I can’t say I’m happy about it! Six weeks went by a little too fast for my liking. I really enjoyed this class and I did learn a ton about stress and more importantly, myself.
In the last few weeks I’ve realized there’s three simple changes anyone can make in their lives to be less stressed.
First, practice the way you express yourself. A LOT of stress comes from holding in our feelings because we don’t want to offend or hurt anyone and we don’t even notice but it is hurting someone–ourselves. The DESC tecnique is wonderful for this. You don’t necessarily need to do all four steps every time you are in a confrontational situation but it really does work.
Since learning the idea behind the DESC, I’ve been loving using the ‘I’ word as often as possible. Saying ‘I’ avoids offending anyone and causing them to be on the defensive. You’re expressing yourself and saying how you feel. Expressing yourself is freeing yourself. Of all burdens, stresses, emotions, and anything else that is better off gone.
Another easy change to make is in perspective.
For the last six weeks I’ve learned that mindset has almost everything to do with the way we react to everything.
- Retrospect. Every time I have a test or exam to take, I’m usually anxious, nervous, stressed. I stay stressed until it’s over. And when it’s over, I look back and laugh at myself for being so stressed. After noticing this, I’ve noticed that it helps if I begin to look at moments with a retrospective eye, even before they take place. It’s always easier to be stressed in the moment but if I change my perspective, I could avoid so much unnecessary, daily stress.
- Adam & Eve. One day I was thinking about how much less stressed Adam & Eve must have been because let’s face it–life was much simpler back then. There was no government, school, work/business, bills, banks, etc. A lot of stress that I feel today is due to these institutions, and I thought that I deserved to have an Adam & Eve life. There’s no reason that I should be more stressed than them. Sometimes when I’m stressed about school or work I put myself in Adam and Eve’s shoes and ask myself if I would be stressed in their time period. The answer is almost always “no” and so it makes me feel better about not worrying as much. I realize that life is not meant to stress me out. It’s supposed to be fun and beautiful, and if I’m spending my days stressed, then it’s quite the opposite.
- Contrast. Recognizing that stresses are not life-or-death. This semester I did a lot of volunteering. I worked with people who lost their homes and everything they had to Hurricane Sandy, and I met a lot of homeless people who sleep in the streets on cold nights and carry everything they own on their backs. After my experiences with these people and seeing how different their lives are compared to mine, I made it a point to think about them during times of stress. There are people who rely on food and clothing donations every single day to survive. It was really difficult to see how drastically different my life was compared to theirs, and it helped me think about stress in a different way. There are people in the world who deal with stresses during every second. Homeless people don’t get a vacation from being homeless or starving on the streets. They don’t get to travel like I do, and they don’t even have a warm place to spend the night. All of these things have shown me that my stresses could be so much life-threatening. When I think about this, somehow I feel less stressed because I know how lucky I am. If I hand my paper in late, it’s not the end of the world. If I don’t do well on one quiz, at least I still have my friends, my family, and my home. At the end of the day, that’s what matters to me.
The last simple thing to do to undress your stress is to breathe (and maybe some yoga…).
Every morning, I wake up, smile, breathe and take a few minutes to think about positive things only. I literally just close my eyes, do some deep breathing, and sometimes some deep thinking. I think about the good people in my life, the new day ahead, the possibilities of the future, and the wonders of my past.
I swear, doing this every day for the last few years has completely changed my aura and who I am as a person. I’m calm, relaxed, always happy and positive. Jumping into the day in a crazy stressful rush is never ever ideal for me, and it throws me off my inner balance completely.
After breathing, I also do a little stretching. It’s not really yoga (I just took my first yoga class last week!). It’s more like moving meditation + breathing + a wake up routine. Which all = nothing that makes sense until you do it and understand why I’m always feeling peaceful and alive.
Sometimes I’m so positive that I think it might be dangerous. I scare people with my happy intensity sometimes. But I’m alright with that cause everyone can use a little more love, am I right or am I right?
Thanks to those of you who have been reading this Undress the Stress series for the last few weeks! I hope you learned something through my stresses.