I am so stressed out! I could explode now! I want to shout! I feel like crying! - Can you resonate with these expressions?
Well, stress is an inevitable part of our lives, and it can be overwhelming at times. As a working mother, you are likely to encounter situations or challenges that cause stress, so the question is how to handle it in a way that is not harmful to your well-being or your environment. I will share with you 9 practical tips on how to manage stress better when you are in the middle of a frustrating situation and you don't want to get overwhelmed by the feeling of anxiety or anger.
Before exploring different techniques you can apply right at the moment, let's discuss what stress is. It is a feeling of emotional and physical tension, that can arise from any real event or thought, or perception that makes you feel frustrated, overwhelmed, angry or nervous. We all react differently to stress based on our personality, education, and environment, we have learned different coping mechanisms to deal with stress, and that is why someone will want to snap at others and another one will be extremely anxious and burst out crying and a third person will want to escape from the situation. There are different ways how stress can manifest, but there is one very important common theme - that stress is not good for you in the long term.
However, in the short term, it activates the fight or flight reflex, which helps our senses to become sharper and we will be more focused, we will switch into crisis mode and we will be able to deal with the challenges easier, like an angry manager, a crying toddler or a tight project deadline. That is the tricky part, that we are great at crisis mode, so when we are under constant stress, we will manage difficult situations like superheroes. But magic always comes with a price - you can't live your life on adrenalin, you will get exhausted very quickly mentally and physically and you might end up with burnout or another physical or mental illness. The best would be not to deal with stress at all or just occasionally - check out my video where I talk about how to proactively fight against stress and create a life which contains less stress as a baseline.
And now let's look at the top tips on managing stress in the middle of a terrible situation when you just feel that the stress is taking over your emotions and you get overwhelmed by the tension.
Focusing on your breathing is the immediate solution to control the physical symptoms of stress, which will help you to release emotional tension. When you are stressed, your whole body reacts - your heart pounds faster, muscles tighten, blood pressure rises, and your breath quickens. And our body is amazing, if you control these physical symptoms of stress, you will also control the emotional tension. Inhale deeply and exhale very slowly and repeat it a couple of times. As you slow down your breath, as you release the tension in your shoulder, you send the message to your mind that everything is all right, there is no more danger, the tiger had left, you are safe and you can calm down. Our body and mind connection is fantastic, isn't it?
2. Ask for time
It is the most simple and brilliant trick, the next thing you can do is give yourself permission to get out of the situation if that is possible and ask for time for yourself. If you are stressed out because of your kid's behaviour, then if your child is safe, walk out of the room to cool down. If you got a frustrating mail at work, the rule of thumb is close it and answer it later, preferably the next day when you already gained some distance from the triggering mail. If your manager asks something that stresses you out, tell them that you would like to think about it and discuss it next time.
This might not be applicable to every situation, but in many it is. By walking away and asking for time for yourself, you basically stop pulling the trigger and give yourself a break to deal with the situation when you are already able to see it from a different perspective. Who said you need to react immediately?
If you once got out of the situation, there are certain small things you can apply to help your body and mind to calm down.
3. Count down
The good classic old tip is to count from 10 to 1 silently in your head
4. The 10 green objects trick
Change your focus by listing 10 green objects in your environment
5. A cup of chamomile tea
This might be the time to drink a cup of chamomile tea, which is something you can easily do in the office kitchen or at home
If you feel like crying, don't fight it, let it go - crying is one the best techniques to release tension
Go for a walk in the fresh air for at least 10-20 minutes and you will see the positive impact on your mood immediately.
Talk to someone you trust and get it all out of your system
9. Shouting or singing out loud
Might sound funny, but crying out is one of the best methods to get rid of tension. If you feel you can't just shout into the air because of what will the neighbours think, you can try singing as loud as you just can, it has the very same effect, and maybe it is less embarrassing.
I hope these tips help you to manage better stressful situations in your life. Let me know in the comments which tip did you like the most!