Managing stress is something everyone talks about, but somehow in the midst of everything its forgotten. A couple of donuts or a couple of martinis can manage stress quickly and gets the job done--we're relaxed. Yet using these ticks too often to deal with stress on the fly cost us as much as the stress itself.
As humans our brains have had a lot of shaping to either flee a perceived danger or to stand and fight a threat we can't escape. The problem is our cultural and technological advances as a species has far outstripped our physical development. That means the brain is still working as if we're struggling like our primitive ancestors to survive each day. Though no longer pursued regularly by predators twice our size, our physical response to threatening events (from being late to pick up the kids to getting that report uploaded for the afternoon video conference) create the same response in our brains and bodies.
The goal is to get your brain chemistry working for you rather than against you. Here are a few ways to deal with stress that can be worked into your fast paced life.
Watch a Funny Movie.
Laughing changes your perspective that your brain will agree with and move in a more light-hearted direction
Write Something Down.
How you feel, what you're thinking, what you need. Two minutes to get it out of your mind takes no longer than jotting a few things down on your grocery store shopping list.
Close Your Eyes.
Being able to visualize the perfect vacation spot you've been to or dreamed of going --whether an island or mountain range or just swinging in a hammock. Taking five minutes to imagine with your senses; the colors, the smells, the texture of the hammock pressed against your skin.
Taking three slow breaths can also break the fight or flight cycle. Inhale through your nose slowly allowing your stomach to relax like a balloon inflating as your lungs fill with air. Slowly exhale through your mouth. Feel free to add a visualization as noted above. You could also repeat to yourself something like, "peace" or "calm" when inhaling and, "stress", or "tension" when exhaling.
What have you used to deal effectively with stress on the fly?