We all desire to be a better, less stressful version of ourselves. Is it possible to actually achieve that? It’s not an easy task, especially during times of a pandemic. Thankfully, there is also plenty of experts- and research-backed methods you can use to generate a calmer, happier you.
Work on your “STOP” ability.
Dr. Sabrina Romanoff, the clinical psychologist, and professor at Yeshiva University in New York City offered this brilliant method from the Dialectical Behaviour Treatment (DBT) branch of therapy. “Stop” means “Stop, Take a Step Back, Observe, and Proceed Mindfully,” she explains. “When emotions take over, you may find yourself acting rashly. You don’t have time to use your arsenal of talents when you respond impulsively.” Use “STOP” to recover control of the situation when you find yourself on edge about anything or panicking.
You can also use your “TIP” abilities.
Romanoff sums down “TIP,” another DBT M.O., as “tipping the temperature of your face with cold water; intense aerobic exercise; paced breathing, and paired muscle relaxation,” adding that each of these methods has the impact of rapidly shifting your biological response pattern to stress. “As a result, your emotional arousal will decrease. These abilities function in the same way as fast-acting drugs do.” You’ll be able to handle better anything that comes your way if you ground yourself in the present moment.
Wash your face for up to a minute in cold water.
Try immersing your face in cold water for a modified version of “TIP,” and you might be amazed at how the experience resets your mental attitude. Romanoff recommends bending over, holding your breath, and immersing your face in a basin of cold water for up to 60 seconds. “The ‘diving reflex’ is frequently induced by this alone.
The better it works, the colder the water and the longer the immersion.” According to Romanoff, when we are submerged in cold water without oxygen, our hearts slow down to resting heart rate owing to greater activation of the parasympathetic nervous system, which lowers arousal. You could also find that having an extremely cold shower helps to reset your mood.
Spend time outside during the day.
Even though it’s freezing outside, stepping outside is beneficial to your mental health. According to Doreen Marshall, vice president of mission engagement at the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP), “having less hours of sunshine might have a negative impact on your attitude.” She suggests getting outside for 30 minutes to help cope with the lack of sunlight. “You may just relax and watch the sunrise or go for a walk around the neighbourhood.” Make an effort to make it a daily habit, whatever you do,” she advises.
If you’re physically capable, don’t stress about running or jogging to gain the advantages of being outside – a quick walk will be enough. “Many people believe that vigorous exercise is required to enjoy the benefits, but research, including that conducted in my lab, has shown that this is not the case,” says Thomas Plante, a psychology professor at Santa Clara University and adjunct clinical professor of psychiatry at Stanford University Medical School. “Taking regular walks can help to relieve stress. Try to go for a walk every day, even if it’s only for 15 minutes, and you’ll find that you’re less stressed in the long run.”
If you’re lonely, connect with people.
Millions of Americans are experiencing feelings of isolation as a result of the epidemic, which has radically changed the way we socialize. “There’s a good chance you’re not alone in feeling lonely,” Marshall says, “and discussing how you’re feeling may inspire others to do the same.” “Reach out to someone who is facing similar feelings and discuss how you can stay connected and support each other.” It might be awkward reconnecting with individuals, but set a goal for yourself to send three emails or phone a different loved one each week to check in and see how they are doing.
You will not only brighten your own day, but you will also brighten the day of someone else. “What goes around comes around, as the adage goes. We live in a highly stressful and horrific era, in which stress-related issues cause a tsunami of mental health issues “Plante agrees. “When we are nice to others, they are likely to be kind to us in return, creating a positive boomerang effect that can reduce stress, anxiety, and sadness in all of us.”
Make a list of your triggers.
Lin Sternlicht, a therapist and co-founder of Family Addiction Specialist in New York City, says, “The most efficient method to lower stress is to begin engaging in stress reduction activities as soon as you become aware that you are experiencing stress.” “To do so, we must first identify stress triggers so that we may be better prepared to cope with stress when it occurs.” Individual triggers vary, but they may involve certain people, locations, things, foods (caffeine is frequently a problem), activities, climates, or times of the day.
For example, if you know that paperwork makes you anxious and you receive a difficult healthcare document in the mail, identify this as a trigger situation for you. Simply noticing the trigger and stopping for a few moments might sometimes be enough to help you feel better.
Keep the overall picture in mind.
If the pandemic has taught us anything, it is to put our daily difficulties in perspective. “We are too frequently stressed by the small things, daily problems, and we make mountains out of molehills,” Plante adds. “Take a deep breath and consider whether whatever is bothering us is truly important in the grand scheme of things. If it isn’t, then let it go.” When you’re dealing with a difficult situation, ask yourself if this is an issue you’ll remember in two years, two months, or even two weeks. Even though things appear to be exaggerated at the moment, the answer to all three of those instances is frequently no.
Whether it’s a long-standing grudge or a close family member who is getting on your nerves, the act of forgiveness is a wonderful thing. Plante states, “Forgiveness is a powerful tonic for bitterness, anger, and unhappiness.” “Practice it on a regular basis; it’s not always easy, but you’ll grow better at it and feel less worried.”
Experiment with the “Grounding Method.”
It’s easier said than done to be present at the moment, but adopting mindfulness methods into your everyday routine might help. “Developing yourself in the present moment is a crucial approach for stopping the stress reaction. Stress is frequently generated by events that are not occurring in the present moment, such as past or future occurrences, as well as mental wandering “Sternlicht agrees. “As a result, anchoring oneself is an excellent stress relieving approach.
There are a variety of ways for bringing oneself back to the present moment, and the more you practice them, the simpler and more natural it will become.” The 5-4-3-2-1 Grounding Method is one of Sternlicht’s favorites. “Simply consider five items that you can see, four items that you can touch, three items that you can hear, two items that you can smell, and one item that you can taste. It’s an excellent method for preventing the ‘wandering mind’ from concentrating on unproductive, stressful ideas.” This releasing act, another of Sternlicht’s strategies, may be performed whenever you’re anxious about anything.
Try a stress dump.
“Stress is the product of obsessive thinking. As a result, letting them out and releasing them is a useful technique. It’s what I refer to as a stress dump; others may refer to it as a brain dump, journaling, or a list. The most important thing to remember is to put pen to paper and start writing. “You might want to write down things that are bothering you and why they are bothering you,” Sternlicht suggests.
“When we take the step of physically getting our ideas out of our heads and writing them down, we experience a physiological and psychological release. As a result, we may begin to distinguish our worry from being a part of ourselves, placing some space between us and our stress “She goes on to say that writing down our anxieties might sometimes help us understand if we’ve been overreacting or catastrophizing our problems.