4 Simple Tools For Managing Stress & Overwhelm
Being an entrepreneur brings with it many benefits, freedom, autonomy and creativity. You are the master of your own destiny! However, it can also bring added responsibility, blurred work/life boundaries.
When you are going at it alone the to-do list can pile up and result in feelings of stress and overwhelm. Add in juggling family and home responsibilities – time to look after yourself can feel like it is non-existent!
Feeling of Chaos to a Feeling of Calm
I work with many people suffering from stress and overwhelm and have 4 simple and powerful tools that I share to go from a feeling of chaos to a feeling of calm.
I get it – I come from a high stress corporate background and even though I have now designed my life around having more balance, more peace and more calm, I can still find myself getting sucked back into the hustle and grind culture. I like to call it the “being busy programme”. The Being Busy program isn’t a joyful thing. It is a sense of compulsion, driven from a place of lack. When we feel that we are not enough we feel we must do more.
We don’t make ourselves busy with stuff that brings us joy, we fall into victim mode and become resentful that we can’t do the things I want to do.
This is a barrier I come up against time and time again, and I see coming up with my clients.
It was this very reason that I quit my job in London and decided to become a Yoga teacher.
But the irony is that even though I have changed my job, and made many other major changes to my life… the being busy feeling still creeps in.
And if I let it slip, it affects my health, my mindset and the decisions I make.
We don’t always feel like doing the things that we know will help us to feel better…
When we are in a high stress state we just don’t feel like we have the time for self-care.
We look for quick fixes outside of ourself to help us to cope…
- Eating comfort food
- Drinking to release stress
- Focussing on anyone else’s problems rather than our own
- Vegging out in front of the TV
When the actual solution to this feeling of overwhelm, of feeling frazzled and being busy all the time is right there inside of us.
We need to down-regulate the nervous system from a high stress state. We need to find practices that help us to relax and in this way we can start to manage the feelings of stress and overwhelm.
We have to practice feeling the way that we want to feel. So if we want to feel more calm, then we need to do things that make us feel calm.
I have 4 super simple tools that I love to use myself and to share with my clients.
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4 Simple Tools to Manage Stress and Overwhelm
How to meditate to reduce stress? You might feel like you can’t meditate. That it is boring or hard. You are right in some ways. It definitely isn’t easy. It’s not easy to be still, to do nothing, to sit with ourselves with our eyes closed. It goes against everything that we believe we should be. Productive, efficient, busy.
But it’s surprising the way that it can make you feel. It’s surprising how something so simple can create such an impact on your life. Because that small amount of time that we spend, being still, focusing our attention on our breath, begins to train us to become aware of our thoughts, our feelings, our emotions.
By sitting with these things for a short time, without getting caught up in them we are practicing staying connected to the inner stillness and calm that we all possess.
There are so many different meditation techniques out there, perhaps you can find a recording to listen to that you like or try a moving meditation.
One piece of advice I’ve found really useful is to slot in your meditation just before you go to sleep. So, you are in bed, but sitting up, and you haven’t turned the light out yet, and you can just close your eyes for 2, 5 or 10 minutes before you settle down to sleep.
2. The Breath
The way that we feel affects the way that we breath and the way that we breath affects the way that we feel. The breath is a powerful tool in signalling to our nervous system, and we can use this to shift us into a more relaxed state.
There are lots of different breathing techniques, especially in Yoga. I find keeping things simple is the best way for breathing to reduce stress.
Firstly, just take a moment to notice how you are breathing right now, at this moment.
- Bring your attention to the tip of your nose
- Does the breath feel smooth or ragged, warm or cool?
- Place one hand on your chest, and one on your abdomen and notice where you feel the body expand as you inhale.
- Notice how your body responds as you exhale
- Once you have found a comfortable breath, you can practice making your exhale longer than your inhale.
- Start by breathing in for a count of 4 and breathing out for a count of 6
When that feels comfortable, breath in for a count of 5 and breath out for a count of 7
Try dropping this breath into your day, for a couple of minutes, perhaps while you are waiting in line, or sitting in your car and notice how it makes you feel.
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How journaling can help reduce stress – research shows that people who are positive in the present are 31% more productive and journaling is a simple way to keep you positive and present. Check out Shawn Achor’s Ted Talk on positive psychology if you are interested in finding out more.
Try this journaling framework based on his principles:
- Write down 3 things that you are grateful for – connect with the feeling of gratitude.
- Visualise and jot down a moment in the last 24 hours or so that sparked joy for you. Connect with the sensory details of the memory, how it looked, and felt. Any sounds, tastes or smells associated with it.
- Keep a record of your physical exercise and meditation plans for the day – when and where you will do it, and for how long.
- Write down someone that you will reach out to with kindness, thanks or support.
All these things are proven to have a beneficial effect on your health and wellbeing and
This one is my favourite! Time spent doing nothing. No focussed awareness, no objective.
How to relax more and stress less should be a priority – here’s how I find ways to relax the mind.
Find a comfortable position for the body so that you can relax. Scan through and note the different parts relaxing, and perhaps some parts not ready to relax yet, and that’s OK too. Allow the mind to drift, or focus on sensation, or the breath. Whatever gives the mind space to relax and drop into a state that is not quite waking and not quite sleep.
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Lower Your Stress and Relax More
Although stress and overwhelm may arise in your work and personal life, there are many simple ways to reduce the pressure you feel.
The great thing about all of these tools is that they are pretty easy to sneak into your daily routine.
Exercise, mindfulness and relaxation can all work to relieve anxiety — and they will improve your overall work-life balance as well.
So give them a try and let me know how you get on. I’d love to hear from you.
About the Author
Frances is a Mum of three –a teenage boy who loves guitars and twin girls who couldn’t be more different.Having worked for over 10 years in the Fashion Industry in a stressful, high-pressure role as an Operations Manager she finally got sick of spinning all the plates. She never got to see her kids, her marriage was falling apart and she was unfulfilled and undervalued.
Physically exhausted, with no idea of how to escape the rat race, it took a health scare to make her drastically re-evaluate her priorities. She quit her job almost straight away and committed to living in a way that made the most of what she really cared about. She began to build a career around the life she wanted to lead –spending time with her children, with more energy, and less stress. It was during this difficult time that she re-discovered Yoga and really began to feel the benefits of regular practice.Of slowing down, of re-prioritising her health and wellbeing.
She re-trained as a Yoga teacher and Hypnotherapist to be able to help others to re-evaluate their priorities in life, and to create habits to support a healthy and happy life
> Her website www.happyhealthyyoga.co.uk