So many of us begin our days already stressed, either because of what we anticipate will happen later in the day, because of lingering aggravation about what already happened, or because unresolved conflicts or stressors kept us from getting quality sleep last night. In fact, unresolved stress from yesterday can be the main factor causing your insomnia. If you find yourself suddenly awake around 2 or 3 AM, that is most likely the cause.
So, here are five scientifically proven tips to build a Teflon shield around you to help potential stressors bounce off.
Meditation and Mindfulness Practice
There are tons of meditation practices that you can easily research on the internet, all of which have the
goal of helping you to distance yourself from stressors
that can or have already impacted you. The purpose of meditation and mindfulness exercises (which take very little time and can be practiced at your desk), is to re-focus on the here and now in a very relaxed and peaceful way, ignoring what has already occurred or what you anticipate occurring later in the day.
One rapid way of meditating very calmly is with your favorite music. Don’t allow yourself to be disturbed by the phone or people for 10-15 minutes, put on a headset with your favorite, relaxing songs, and stay focused on the music. If anxiety provoking thoughts enter your mind, quiet this inner voice by gently letting them go and redirect your focus on the music. Then, as you listen, focus on your breathing, the cool sensations at the tip of your nose as you inhale, for example. The more immersed you get with the music and your breathing, the more rapidly you will relax. This state of inner peace can last for hours and be repeated as necessary.
Focus on Gratitude
Much research lately has focused on the wonderful benefits of keeping a gratitude journal, noting the little things for which you are grateful. Unless we focus on the things, situations and people in our lives for which we are grateful, we spend a vast amount of time focusing on the things that stress us and make us anxious.
Keep a “gratitude journal” next to your bed and another in your desk at work. As you recognize situations and people for whom you are grateful, jot them down. You will be amazed how many of these situations you have been taking for granted as you focused on the things or people who aggravate you.
There are many other creative ways to focus on gratitude, such as on your commute home, at each stop light name something you’re grateful for that happened during the day. In short, change the focus of your thinking and change your stress level!
Make a Plan for the Day When You Wake Up
Write down a few attainable goals for the day, including noting how wonderful you will feel once you accomplish those goals. Research shows that writing these goals down makes you 11 times more likely to actually accomplishing them.
Here’s what missing in most goal writing: Make a note of how you have sabotaged yourself in the past, leading to failure to accomplish the goal. Most people keep this information in their subconscious, leading to self-destructive behaviors, and ultimate failure to achieve the goals. Put your self-sabotaging habits up front and personal and you have a great probability of not going down that path this time.
Use the Power of Positive Expectations
I have written in this blog extensively about the tremendous power of thinking optimistically, despite how
hopeless or helpless you feel. You can accomplish this as your workday begins by thinking about the joy you will have later in the day. For example, focus on dinner later at your favorite restaurant with your favorite person, watching a sitcom later that evening, catching up on news with a friend or relative, etc.
These little plans and expectations make the anticipated stressors of the upcoming day seem more palatable.
Don’t Short-Change Yourself by Avoiding Exercise
You already know that exercise is one of the most powerful stress mastery techniques there is and it works on both your mind and body simultaneously, not only alleviating stress, but building resilience to it.
The problem is that if you are stressed, you often don’t feel like exercising. You feel like going to bed with the covers over your head.
Make a deal with yourself in order to maintain an exercise habit, regardless of how much stress you feel. For example, if brushing your teeth before bed is important to you (hopefully!), make a deal that you will not allow yourself to brush your teeth unless you did your exercise that day. You can be quite creative here, avoiding food treats, etc., unless you did your exercise sometime during the day.
The important take-away from these 5 stress-busting strategies is that they are all free and take relatively little time. People are creatures of habit and don’t like to change their behaviors. But, if you get started today with these simple habits to build into your daily routine, you will surely watch the stress melt away.