STRESS!!! In Silicon Valley stress is in the very air we breath and learning how to relax when stressed is highly important.
But the key to reducing stress is actually to notice tension, and then use tension to relax when stressed.
Can you feel stress in your belly before the butterflies set in?
That’s the first step. By this I mean …
Because some people don’t notice stress until it’s BIG TIME.
(If you have no idea what stress is, read a stress overview here)
Relieve Stress By Noticing Signs of Stress First
Are you thinking something along these lines?
- “Yada yada yada … you’re talking about self-care.”
- You’re going to tell me to get more sleep, exercise more, etc
Nope! I’m not going to tell you to do any of these things!
You know what stress looks like and feels like. This American Psychological Association guide lists a few signs:
- Headaches, muscle tension, neck or back pain
- Upset stomach
- Dry mouth
- Chest pains, rapid heartbeat
- Difficulty falling or staying asleep
- Loss of appetite or overeating “comfort foods”
- Increased frequency of colds
- Lack of concentration or focus
- Memory problems or forgetfulness
- Short temper
But see most people…
See stress as a battle to be won, rather than a skill to be developed.
- Write your worries down in a journal.
- Peel an orange. Studies show the smell of citrus can help reduce stress.
- Read a book for six minutes.
- Eat an avocado. …
- Take a walk in green space.
- Hang out with your BFF.
- Spend a few minutes focusing on your breath.
- Take a power nap.
But there are 2 core concepts to practice so that you can ‘improve’ your stress resilience skills
- Notice stress before it gets BIG
- Decrease stress
Notice the word ‘decrease’.
It’s not eliminate. It’s not eradicate.
You need to learn how to decrease stress, a little. You don’t need to get rid of stress 100% to improve your stress skills.
Now pause if you are thinking: “But wait, don’t I already know how to decrease stress?“
So what’s the problem?
The problem is most people think in terms of stress as something they have A LOT of …
Or something they have To Get Rid Of during vacation.
But when stress is small … when stress is just starting to grow … you don’t do anything.
Most people see stress as all or nothing.
But only a few people see that:
- Stress starts out tiny
- It’s valuable to act to reduce stress while stress is tiny
Most people procrastinate. They wait for their stress to get BIG!
How to relax when stressed
You will never have no stress.
But having stress reduction skills gives you something important.
Stress reduction skills give you power.
Instead of hoping for some day when you aren’t stressed … or when you have enough time …
Because that day will never come (we both know that).
The key is to:
- Notice stress while stress is tiny and manageable
- Decrease stress (don’t worry about getting rid of all the stress, even if it’s tiny)
So like me writing this piece, I can handle a bit more stress because I know I have stress reduction skills.
It’s not like I am ignoring my stress. No. I am being practical. I know that I can reduce it whenever I want to after I am done writing.
Or, if I just want to take a break.
Now, for a quick tangent in terms of weight loss.
You must adopt this mindset:
If you let it control you …
You’re done. Or if you pretend stress doesn’t matter …
If you’re new to the site, we’re enlightening ourselves to new perspectives on how to actually lose weight sustainably and peacefully.
Sometimes these truths are hard to hear. Like stress.
No one wants to hear they gotta learn stress reduction skills, on top of exercising, on top of eating healthy, on top of being positive.
Enough is enough! Right?
But hold on.
Stress reduction should feel good.
You should WANT to do stress reduction skills.
That’s the key mentality of Weight Loss Enlightenment. We want to learn these things because they feel good. That’s the enlightenment.
It’s not because we have to, but because we want to.
And a big part of this is learning stress skills.
Realizing you need stress skills (and not stressing out if you don’t have any stress skills).
Learning stress skills and committing to practicing stress skills (without being too hard on yourself or expecting too quick of results).
2 Things You Need To Relax and Be Happy
I’ve said these before and I’ll say them again. You can practice these skills and get better at them. As you improve these skills and ‘get better’ more of your life will get better.
- Notice stress.
- Decrease stress.
That’s it. So in terms of How to relax when stressed
Think like your belly button.
Notice the lil’ signs of stress.
And be able to reduce your stress, just a tiny bit.
These 2 things give you power.
The ability to do these things give you control over your stress.
You don’t have to be perfect. You won’t be perfect. But you can grow. And that’s the key.
But the key is …
Look for these signs before they get BIG.
Like notice a lil’ headache.
Notice a lil’ anxiety.
That’s it. How to relax when stressed?
Have the mindset to look out for stress signs.
If you can catch the stress …
How to relax with anxiety
Basically you scan your body for signs of stress.
I recommend you take 1 minute to do this and another 1 minute to just relax one muscle.
This is the tension technique I mentioned earlier above.
So check this out.
1 minute you can do right when you get into the car.
I’m not talking 20 minutes of meditation.
No. How to relax when stressed?
Again. Here’s how. I’m talking 1 friggin’ minute of meditation.
You just scan your body. Remember, notice and decrease. You don’t have to get rid of the stress all at once.
Start with your jaw. Because if you are stressed, trust me, your jaw will be tense. So, start there.
And, then loosen your jaw.
And then you can repeat elsewhere.
Like your shoulders. Your shoulders probably get a bit tense when you get stressed.
So check in. Are they stressed? Notice the signs, even little signs like tightness.
And then …
Relax your shoulders.
If you can’t relax…
Try to take a big deep inhale and then try relaxing as you exhale.
Or, try to squeeze your shoulders up to your ears and then relax.
See, paradoxically for muscle release, if you tighten your muscle then you can relax them more.
So go ahead and give your shoulders a squeeze 🙂
I literally squeezed my shoulders while writing this article and I truly do feel a lil’ better. Just sayin.
You can watch a more detailed video here, if you want to learn more.
Anyways. How to relax when stressed? That’s it. Peace!
I can’t tell you the number of times I have taught this to people.
I remember one lady I worked with she was a mom with 2 kids and she had heard of meditation before and knew she should meditate.
Well, we were working together and she fully understood that stress was keeping her in a cycle of holding onto weight.
The big moment for her was realizing she only had to do a LITTLE.
This was her big aha’ moment.
However, this was the 1 minute of insight! Only 1 minute!
She just had to tune in. This insight changed her life!!!
Took 30 seconds.
She could do it talking, driving, cooking, playing with her dog …
Anytime. Anywhere. No excuses. Just power.
Now tell me. What’s your biggest stressor. What are the signs of stress that you notice? And what are the ways you can handle stress, just a little bit?
Learn to relax and enjoy life – it will help with weight loss too
Most people though… They want to rush into weight loss.
What’s the new diet? Perhaps your wondering, “what’s the magic key?
Or maybe, what’s the right nutrition?
They want the magic something that will magically make them lose weight.
Sadly, this approach never works.
They go about their day …
Stressing in traffic (and not noticing they are stressing)
Stressing with their phone (but not noticing the stress facebook causes …)
Suddenly the stress is too much.
Something sets you off.
And then you binge.
And then you feel like crap and emotional eat. Or you give up your diet.
And you feel like crap. A few cycles of this and you’re miserable trying to lose weight.
You’re good for so long …
But then something just gets you. You get triggered. Thrown off course. You’re at the mercy of the day.
And the next day you try to eat healthier …
But the pattern repeats itself. I made a whole post here titled’ why do diets fail’ about how this pattern repeats itself 🙂
The pattern always repeats itself. ALWAYS! I talk about this repeating pattern in this video here.
I mean, c’mon. We live in a stressful friggin’ world.
And we need to face this. There’s not enough time to where we cannot pretend stress doesn’t effect our weight.
Sure, it’s not a direct link. It’s not as obvious as eating donuts and sugar.
But honestly, it’s pretty close to a direct link.
Because if we can’t relax … If we can’t free ourselves of stress …
Then we end up miserable. That’s pretty obvious.
Weight loss is hard enough.
If we can’t diminish our stress, then we probably won’t last.
We need to be in control.
For another article about stress and how it relates to food, check out this piece about intuitive eating.