3 tips to break free from the stress cycle and feel good

Stress is a normal part of life and it can help us to take action and move forwards. When the stressful event is over we can again relax so that there is a natural wave that moves us from feeling aroused to feeling relaxed.

Unfortunately, often we don’t get the down-time we need and the stress builds up. We feel overwhelmed, pushed for time, on alert and our mind is busy going round and round like the blades of a helicopter – a helicopter mind. Or the stress triggers stresses from earlier in our life and makes it feel even harder to cope.

When we feel stressed we also draw our energy up into our upper body and head. We even say I feel so in my head and it may be heard to relax and settle down. This can also show up as pressure in your head or headaches.

It also affects our breathing, which will become more shallow and we may even hold our breath without realising we do this. And this adds to the feeling of stress.

So how can we break this cycle?

Here are 3 things you can do to help you relax.

  1. breathing – imagine you breathe out through a straw so your mouth is slightly open. Breathe out slowly through the straw and allow the natural sound to happen as you do this. Then just let your in breath happen – if possible through your nose. Allow your out breath to slowly lengthen so it is longer than your in breath.  Do this until you feel yourself calming down.
  1. grounding – sitting on a chair with your feet on the ground. Feel your bum on your seat and let yourself settle deeper into your seat. Feel your feet on the ground. Breath out through your pelvis, legs and feet into the ground and let roots grow out of the soles of your feet deep into the earth. Feel your connection to the earth.
  1. body check in – sit for a moment and bring your attention to your body – how does it feel right now? Whatever you notice allow it to be there, this is a moment to observe rather than change things. Then bring your attention to your heart, what emotions are there right now? Allow yourself to observe them without getting pulled into them. Then pay attention to your mind – is it busy with many thoughts or relaxed? Whatever is there allow it to be there. After spending some time with each part come back to an overall sense of your body – how is it now? Is it different from when you started? To come back take a few breaths and stretch a bit.

It is great if you can pick just 1 of these and do this regularly – not just when you feel stressed.

Doing it regularly will help you to build up capacity to be with difficulties better, a bit like building up muscles in the gym. Over time you won’t feel so stressed as easily anymore and also be better able to cope with it when life gets stressful.