The world as we know it is in a major uproar. From our economics to our politics, opinions are heated and the record breaking hot temperatures are certainly adding to the pressure. As we've seen recently, when people shout and argue while refusing to listen to others opinions, little good is accomplished. It's easy to get caught up in the emotional fray occurring around us and the overload of negative information can stress the spirits of the most optimistic person.
According to the American Psychological Association's (APA) chief executive officer and executive vice president Norman Anderson, PhD, "America is at a critical crossroads when it comes to stress and our health." The APA's 2010 Stress in America report shows great concern regarding the long-term impact that chronic stress can have on our physical and emotional health and the health of our families.
If you're feeling overwhelmed and stressed out like so many are today, it may be time to take a break, regroup and think cool thoughts in order to regain your composure and perspective.
Here are six ways to lower your stress and keep your cool:
1. Walk away. We often feel the most stressed when we are under a deadline and have more to do than we feel we can handle. The typical response is to push through and work harder, which tends to increase our stress levels and block our creativity. The best thing to do in this situation is to take a break and walk away from the stressful situation. Do something completely different for an hour or two that you truly enjoy. While it may seem illogical at first, when we do this we allow our mind to focus on something else and relax, which is desperately needed at the time. When we return to the project at hand, we often find that we have new ideas and clearly see solutions to the problems which were blocking us before.
2. Have a plan. The next time you are faced with distressing news, think back on a time in your past where you were facing a difficult situation and how you overcame and moved past this problem. In some cases, you may be able to see how you became stronger by working through this event and how you are wiser for the experience. Now consider the current problem that you are facing, and imagine that you have already worked through the problem, and it is now in the past. One way to do this is to play the "what if'' game. Imagine the situation and what would be the worst thing that could happen. Then ask yourself, if this happened, what would I do? Once you have that answer, imagine the next scenario and again ask yourself what you would do. As you continue to ask this question, you'll see that you have the skills to think clearly and logically and take care of yourself regardless of the situation at hand. The overwhelming majority of the time what happens is always less serious than the worst thing we imagined during the what if question and should that occasion arrive, you know that you'll be able to handle it when it does.
3. Breathe. When we hear bad news, we instinctively tighten up and go into protection mode. Our breathing becomes shallow and if the stress continues, we forget to take care of ourselves. During this time, it's more important than ever to take care of ourselves, eating right, exercising and remembering to breath deeply. Pay attention to your body right now, are you sitting hunched over your computer? If so, sit back and lower your arms to your side. Take a deep breath in and hold it to the count of three, then breathe out deeply, exhaling through the mouth. Try it again, breathing in deep and feel your body relaxing, focusing just on the act of breathing. One more time, take a deep breath in and think of nothing but the pleasure of your body relaxing as it takes in a deep breath of air and exhales the breath outward. This simple act can pull you mentally and emotionally out of a tense moment and return you back to a calm state.
4. Eliminate the negative chatter. It's easy to join in on the water cooler discussions about what's wrong with the office, co-workers or the world in general. When we join in on negative conversations it heightens our stress levels and lowers our energy. If you have a solution to the problem or input that may help others reconsider the situation, then by all means, share the information. Otherwise, it might be time to take a break from the conversations, in person or online as they can wear you down and make you feel worse about the situation.
5. Laugh. According to jollytologist and "Learning to Laugh When You Feel Like Crying" author Allen Klein, laughter is the best solution. It's hard to stay angry or stressed when we have a good laugh. Find something that makes you laugh, a funny video, a joke or card and laugh! Don't stop there, once you've had a good laugh, share it with others, make laughter the new infectious energy and mood of the day.
6. See the Big Picture. One of the greatest benefits to studying history is to see that humanity has endured, survived and thrived through all types of situations. Many of the things we get so worked up about in the moment, don't have a major effect on our lives a year later. Before getting upset, take a moment and reflect on the situation and determine if it is worth you getting upset and stressed over.
Taking the time to regain your personal balance and perspective allows you to renew your body mind and spirit so that you are clear and conscious in your thoughts and emotions. Then when you're ready to take action and stand up for something you want to see changed in the world, whether on a personal, community-wide or global level, you'll be one of the "cooler heads which prevail."
As host of the Explore Your Spirit with Kala Show and author of the award-winning 9 Life Altering Lessons: Secrets of the Mystery Schools Unveiled, Ghosthunting North Carolina, and The Awakened Aura: Experiencing the Evolution of Your Energy Body, Kala Ambrose's wisdom teachings are described as discerning, empowering, and inspiring. A highly interactive teacher on a mission to educate, entertain and inspire, Kala presents workshops nationally on the Mind/Body/Spirit connection at the Omega Institute, the Learning Annex, LilyDale Assembly, and around the U.S. Learn more about Kala at http://www.ExploreYourSpirit.com and read her blog on Red Room.