It’s all too easy to get caught up in a stressful situation and lose sight of what’s really happening. Many people might tell you to “get over it” or “just let it go.” Fat lot of good that advice does when your head is whirling around with negative self-talk, right? In this post, we’ll show you how to negate the impact of stress to stay “in the moment” and reduce those frazzled feelings.
Properly managing stress isn’t just about avoiding it entirely; it’s also about knowing how your body reacts and how to control that reaction. Ultimately, stress is merely a symptom of an issue, and you can FIX issues. Jump down into the article to find out how to regulate your emotional reactions by staying in the moment.
Never Let Stress Take over Your Life Again with These Tips
Pay Attention to Your Body
You can’t solve a problem without acknowledging that the problem exists. Likewise, it’s very difficult to cope with stressful situations without realizing when you’re stressed out. Certain psychological and physical symptoms shared by pretty much all humans (unless you lack a working fight or flight system) can help you identify when your emotions may be ramping up. While they’re often subtle, they’re easier to spot once you’re aware of them in the first place.
Your body’s fight or flight response starts within the limbic center of the brain. It kicks in (often in a misguided attempt to keep you safe) when tense situations arise. In the “wild,” (think during caveman times), this response helped humans determine when they should fight or when they should take flight. After all, fighting a pack of saber-tooth tigers is inherently more dangerous than swatting away a fly.
Sometimes, that response goes a little bit haywire. When it does, it can flare up even when you aren’t in danger. Learning to recognize those symptoms as they happen can help you tamp down the response and stay calm.
Take note of stiffened muscles, especially in your neck and face. Your stomach will clench up and your posture will become more rigid. You may also begin to sweat and breathe faster. These reactions are completely normal and identifiable with a little mindfulness.
Control Your Breathing
Recognizing that your body’s state is compromised and not conducive to relaxing is the first step. Next, it’s time to take control of your physiology, and that starts with controlling your breath. Buddhists place great importance on breathing and your ability to control it because it’s arguably the most important step in composing yourself.
Step aside and take a few long, steady, deep breaths. Pay sole attention to your body and how it changes with each breath. Forcing yourself to slow down and breathe rhythmically tells your body to calm down and to exit fight or flight mode. Continuing to focus on and control your breaths during an ongoing situation is a highly effective way to stay cool under the pressure. You may not be able to tackle the source right away, but you can limit its impact on your mental state.
Understand that Stress is a Symptom, not the Cause
It’s easy to associate stress with being bad. But as with most things, it’s more complicated than that. Stress is merely your body’s reaction to an environment or situation it’s not prepared for. The source could be negative, like when a co-worker drags the team down because they’re stubborn.
Stress can also come from neutral or potentially good circumstances. Job interviews and moving to a new city are prime examples of intense situations that aren’t inherently bad. In fact, research shows that viewing stress as a negative force means you’re more likely to fail. Attempting to only ignore or negate stressful feelings will blindside you to the true causes. Instead, focus that energy towards overcoming the challenge presented before you.
Feeling stress means your mind and body are trying to acclimate to a new situation. It’s a force for good if you use it to drive you in a positive direction. Sometimes it can seem insurmountable, but you’ll have no problem handling any scenario, good or bad, if you’ve followed these tips.