What do you do when you’re feeling really stressed and overwhelmed? Perhaps you reach for the wine or the biscuits? Perhaps you get tearful, you might shout at the people you love? Maybe you even suffer from full blown panic attacks?
When we’re in a stress response state otherwise known as fight or flight mode our body chemistry actually changes as stress hormones are released and our body goes into survival mode. This is why our heart beats fast, our breathing becomes shallow, we tense up. Usually this is accompanied by catastrophic thinking – thinking the worst is going to happen. When our bodies and minds feel out of control it’s hard to think we can ever feel calm again!
I’ve put together my list of go-to of things you can do to calm the F down when you feel in a state of high anxiety or stress. Sometimes you need to manage the intensity of the response first before you can even think clearly and then decide what needs to be done. I hope you find them useful!
- Box Breathing – breathe in for the count of 4, hold for 4, breathe out for 4, hold out for 4. Repeat for at least 1 minute or as long as necessary.
- Tapping on the collar bone, stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system responsible for calming us down.
- Lie on the floor with your legs up the wall – again stimulates the parasympathetic system.
- Have a ‘brain dump’ get a piece of paper and write down everything that is cluttering your mind.
- HALT- are you Hungry? Angry? Lonely or Tired? If any of these things your stress levels are likely to be even higher, address your basic needs first.
- Body scan, go through your body starting at your head noticing each part and where you are holding tension, gently breathe into the tense parts and let the tension go.
- Connect with another person- phone a friend, ask for a hug, even better hug a child or a pet.
- Do a 5 minute meditation on Insight Timer app – it’s fab!
- Move your body – go for a walk, dance to a song, even stretching – stress needs a place to go and if you’re still all the time it gets stuck.
- Grounding exercise – notice 5 things around you can see, then noises you can hear, then what you can touch, then anything you can smell. This brings you out of your head and into your body and senses – great for panic or overwhelm.
I recommend taking a picture of this list and having it on your phone for times of need. I hope it helps!
I’m running a Stress Management Masterclass in London on September 14th where I’ll share many more tips and tools on managing stress and anxiety. Click here for more details