Managing Stress

A few weeks ago, a friend asked me for some tips on managing stress.  Here is what I came up with! 

Hi! Okay, it’s really hard to pinpoint the things that I did to help manage my stress.  I knew I was stressed at my job, but it was such a normal part of my life that it wasn’t until I left that I realized just how much It affected my life. 

The jar thing really works for me. Telling myself to just stop obsessing over ___________ just doesn’t work for me.  Some days it was literally a list of names of people that worked for me or I worked with, other times there were events.   Open the jar, drop it in, screw the lid on tight. Goodnight. 

Praying for those that were stressing me out. A boss, a specific employee or coworker, or someone else. I would (mostly in the start of my yoga practice) start one by one and say, for example, I wish ______ love, I wish them health, I wish them peace. And I would picture them surrounded by white light, filling up his entire office. And I would keep going with each person. Some days it was just picturing the building I work in, white light flooding in the front door and through the whole building. I don’t know, something about this makes me feel like the better person, the bigger person, the more mature and kind person and helped me set aside my anger/hatred/annoyance with them. 
 In the morning before I interact with anyone, I take time to visualize –and often talk out loud- my entire day. If I see a potential negative stressor, I will see myself staying calm and unaffected by it.  I work out early in the morning and nobody is around so this is a good time for me. But I have in the past gotten up early to just sit with my eyes closed for 5 minutes to run through my day. 

This is so ridiculous, it works SO WELL for me. Understand that I get worked up about things quickly and often jump to conclusions – that are wrong- so what I’m worked up about wasn’t true anyway.  The stupid thing happens, and I say out loud to myself or whoever is there “if that’s the worst thing that happens today, it’s going to be a great day” seriously, that immediately shuts down my annoyance, loosens up my shoulders and I move on. It works every damn time.

My almost constant tension in my neck and shoulders was a constant reminder that I am constantly in a state of stress. Working with that foam roller every single night before bed helped it feel so much better, making me feel lighter and less stressed – like if my body isn’t stressed I must not be!!! 

Intentions. Yeah yeah, we are yoga teachers we know about intentions. It wasn’t until last year that I really started doing this. And I don’t choose one for the yoga session, I choose one that fits my life at that time. “be brave” was one I used for a long time. Helped me in a lot of ways, on and off the mat, and actually guided me to quit my job of 20 years to work for a 5 year grant. These days is “go easy” reminding me to slow down ;on my mat, nursing a shoulder injury, at work because I don’t have to rush and get stressed, driving in my car. 

Expectations. This was my “aha!” moment in therapy. In short my expectations of everyone and everything at every moment are WAY TOO HIGH and the result is me bring pissed, annoyed, disappointed, stressed. It’s a couple of year in progress by now but realizing that lowering my expectations drastically changed my life. 

Another therapist tip that has stuck with me for years is – can you just let one small things go each day? I sure can. For years now, if I get stressed/annoyed/angry with someone, for example, in my head I ask myself can this be the one thing I let go of today. Almost always it’s a yes and I drop it and move on. Sometimes it’s a no because it’s the 45 time this person did ____________ and does it and I never bring it up and we need to talk about it so it isn’t a stressor again. 

“no hurries, no worries” and “people aren’t against you, they are for themselves” are posted as a daily reminder- saying those two things help me let things go too. 

Felt food. Hahha. Last Christmas I wanted to sew some felt food for Grayson’s kitchen playset. Not a seamstress in the least, I was surprised that the monotony and repetitiveness of it was really relaxing. And the felt food is damn cute too.  So maybe not sewing felt food for you but something crafty or repetitive, or maybe it’s a video game – let yourself “check out”.My stress has been significantly reduced since changing jobs. But I was grinding my teeth at night too (chipped a tooth and a few of my teeth shifted), neck and shoulders tight, I get it. It isn’t easy. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself to stop being stressed, because that’s stressful too. All of these things help me manage and I hope some of them will help you too!

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My mission it to make a student feel like they are the only one in the room. To plant a seed that grows into a movement. A movement that takes their daydreams to real life.