There is a lot of good advice out there on how to reduce daily stress. Here are some of the daily stress relief techniques that I practice and I believe in:
- Go for a walk.
- Get out in nature.
- Play with your kids or pets (or someone else’s).
- Express gratitude in a journal.
- Meditate for 20 minutes - close eyes, focus on breath, try to let thoughts come and go.
But what do you do when the stress seems unmanageable or uncontrollable?
Here are some techniques that help me.
1 - Map out ‘current to desired situation’
This is what high ticket consultants do for their clients to help them fix their business problems. It can be easily modified for our personal problems.
For each source of stress in your life, write your predicament out as such:
“My current situation is __________________.”
“My desired situation is __________________.”
“What’s preventing me from reaching my desired situation is _______________.”
“The first step I need to take to get closer to my desired situation is ______________.”
Often just writing this out will greatly reduce the stress and then, of course, taking the first action step helps further decrease your agitation. The key is taking the first step because often times it’s the most uncomfortable and involves confrontation.
2 - Combat sports or mind-numbing exercise
Many people recommend walking, yoga, and moderate exercise as a daily stress reliever. Those are great recommendations. Do them.
To take it one step further, I’ve found combat sports and mind-numbingly intense exercise protocols to be great interventions during weeks in which my stress levels are super high and seemingly uncontrollable.
You don’t have to do it everyday, just do it when stress-levels are particularly high and nothing else can get your mind off the stress-trigger.
Put yourself in a jiu jitsu, MMA, or kickboxing class and get in there and do some sparring.
Learning to protect yourself from imminent physical danger immediately gets your mind off the other stuff.
If combat classes aren’t available, try a Crossfit class or intense cycling class where you practically have to fight for your breath 15 minutes in. Triggering those physiological survival skills is a great way to make psychological stresses seem like no big deal.
3 - Cold exposure
Go to a nearby convenience store and buy 40 pounds of ice. Fill up your bath with water and pour the ice in. Let the ice melt a little, then put on a bathing suit, get in, and sit there for 20 minutes, submerging as much of your body as you can, up to your chin.
This will shock you into focusing on the present moment. It gets you out of your own head and away from whatever worries may be troubling you. Really the only thing you can think is “wow, this is really, really, really cold.”
Best not to do this alone the first time.
That's actually me sitting in an outdoor ice bath in the photo at the top of this article.
4 - Watch a Planet Earth Documentary on Netflix
If it’s dark outside and you’re not ready for an ice bath, turn on Netflix and put on the Planet Earth documentary. Seeing the wonders of nature (and its harsh realities) has a stabilizing effect on me and reduces stress almost immediately.
The voice of the narrator is also very soothing and reassuring.
5 - Do something helpful for someone else.
Donate to one of your friend’s GoFundMe campaigns. Give to a cause you really care about. Schedule a vacation day to go volunteer for a good cause. Don’t wait for them to email you or send you a brochure, just do it.
Focusing on ourselves is the source of all stress and suffering.
A great way to relieve stress is to focus all your energy and resources on helping someone else.
Stress management is a skill. It has to be practiced to be perfected. Hopefully this blog post has give you some ideas for things you can try when your stress builds up to abnormal levels.