5-Minute Stress Fixes
Annoyed by difficult people?
We all encounter them: nosy neighbors, buttinsky relatives, rude grocery
clerks. To insulate yourself from their irritating behaviors, first acknowledge
how you're reacting (for example, your fists may clench while thoughts of how
to escape race through your head). "Recognizing your emotions enables you
to develop strategies for soothing them, which in turn delivers a sense of
calming control," says Brantley. Start by rolling your wrists to alleviate
any physical tension. To silence those mental SOS sirens, recite a calming
self-affirmation, such as, "No matter how much she gets under my skin, I'll
treat her with kindness." And have some good excuses prepared for escaping
your next encounter, such as, "Sorry — gotta go. I'm expecting a phone
Our minds are often plagued by self-defeating thoughts that start with
phrases like "I can't," "I'll never," and "If only."
The next time your inner critic pipes up, follow these steps to silence it:
Close your eyes, breathe mindfully, and reflect on a time when you were
surprised by your own strength (maybe it was when you gave birth or quit your
job to find a better one). "Remembering past moments when you trusted
yourself will guide you toward feeling comfortable with your decisions
now," explains Brantley.
Joy to the world? Not when you're last-minute holiday shopping. Instead of
swearing that you'll never procrastinate again, try making a two-column to-do
list, suggests Brantley. On one side, list the high-priority tasks in order of
importance; in the other column, jot down the things that can happen tomorrow
or the next day. "This will help you formulate a plan, and when you realize
that there are things that can actually wait, your load will seem less
demanding," says Brantley. As you complete each task on your list, cross it
off with a colorful Sharpie. This visual affirmation of accomplishment is
soothing, and learning how to tackle stress before it paralyzes you is your
ticket to overcoming it.
Originally published on November 6, 2007
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