How hitting your internal reset button can save your day & your sanity.
By Nicole Hand
Sometimes the most important thing in a whole day is the rest we take between two deep breaths. ~Etty Hillesum
I have this frustrating habit; when I get nervous, anxious, scared - basically when I experience any negative emotion - I hold my breath. I don't know when I first started to hold my breath, but I'd wager that I've had this tendency for most of my life.
Has any negative emotion/experience ever been improved by holding my breath? Nope. In fact, it makes whatever challenging experience I'm facing more difficult to deal with than it would otherwise be.
Today I had a particularly stressful day. Mondays are always tough because my TO DO LIST (in capital letters no less!) is always overwhelmingly long and scary. Then, during a meeting, I found out that a work project, that I was originally supposed to complete by the end of June, needs to be completed by the end of April. Gah!
So, what's a girl to do? Calmly access the situation, make a new plan, and begin with positive energy? Not quite.
Instead, I found myself descending down a spiral slide of "I can't do this" and "this is too much" and fantasizing about dropping out of society entirely and living on berries and grubs. Whee! I was going around and around the slide, and the unproductive thoughts were whizzing around and around my brain, and I was getting absolutely zilch accomplished, which just made the stress worse.
That's when I noticed that I wasn't breathing and decided to stop and push my internal reset button.
Here are some things that usually help me reset and get back to happy (or at least get back to sane)
- Get on the treadmill and walk it out
- Jump on my mini trampoline
- Put on a favorite happy song and dance around the house
- Crank up music and sing obnoxiously loud
- Call a girlfriend for a bitch/laugh-it-out session (usually while pacing)
- Sit-ups, push ups, jumping jacks, etc.
- Scrub something - I hate housecleaning, but when I'm stressed, scrubbing the bathtub or the kitchen floor feels really good
I would love to say that meditation helps, but when I'm this far gone I can't sit still and quiet my mind. I meditate so that I don't have to get to this awful freak out place. And it does help, but I still have a long way to go. When I'm really stressed the feeling is physical and it has to be ousted from my body through movement.
Today I combined three of the above bullets. I walked/danced on the treadmill, while shouting along to Prince, Mika, and The Pointer Sisters. I'm sure I looked 100% cray cray, but that's ok-k. I felt great when I was done and was able to approach my work with good energy and make a plan. And best of all, I was breathing normally again.
How do you positively deal with stress? Any ideas to add to my list? Share 'em with me!