Managing stress in the moment

Techniques to help you reduce anxiety and deal with stressors more effectively throughout your day.

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Three-part approach

The three main techniques to manage stress are:

  • Change what you are doing. By interrupting the flow of negative or fearful thoughts, we can calm our mind.
  • Change what you’re thinking. By choosing to refocus your mind, we can retrain our brain to look for solutions rather than staying stuck on problems.
  • Accept what you cannot change. This does not mean giving up or giving in. It means learning to make the best of a situation that, at least temporarily, cannot be avoided

Each of these techniques will require discipline at first, but all can become much easier with practice. We all know someone who seem to be able to deal with anything life presents to them with grace and balance. It’s likely that these techniques are second nature to them, and they have used them to build resilience.

Change what you do

  • Focus on your breathing. This exercise can be of use when you feel overwhelmed. You can do this either sitting down or standing up. Inhale slowly. Hold it for a three count. Exhale slowly for a three count. Repeat this exercise as many times as you need.
  • Change tasks. If you feel stressed while completing a task, try directing your focus to another task that requires less concentration. This allows you to still be productive yet let go of any added or unnecessary stress. Another action you can do is remove yourself from the situation. This gives yourself physical and mental space away from your current task. 
  • Appreciate the moment. Rather than always trying to reach a goal, be engaged in your current task or activity. Focus on doing one task at a time. Taking in all your experiences allows you to enjoy the present moment.
  • Diversions. Hobbies or leisure activities can be of benefit in recovering from stressful times. They provide a break from a busy schedule, but still give a feeling of purpose and enjoyment. Make sure the time you take for your diversion is reasonable. In other words, use this time to refresh, not to become numb or avoid things. Having a hobby can boost a sense of well-being, give a chance to enjoy a pleasurable activity, increase positive feelings and overall, decrease stress.

Change what you think

  • Mind Power. Visualization uses your imagination to let your brain calm down from stressful times. Imagining yourself relaxed, confident or accomplishing your current task can give you the motivation to make that come true.
  • Refocusing. We all get distracted thinking about other things while doing something else. Take note of what is distracting you to deal with it another time. Then  refocus your attention, in order to stay in the present.
  • Enjoying a moment. When you are present in a moment, you tend to connect positive feelings to positive activities. Let yourself and let others know how much you or another is enjoying a moment. Even the smallest actions, such as smiling, laughing or any other positive expression can be a way to share these emotions.

Accept what cannot be changed

  • Observe. Be aware of different things your body might feel throughout the day like a slight shiver or increase in heart rate. This can help make you present in the moment. These sensations can let you know when you are in a stressful state or calm state. Knowing this can let you know the effect of stress on the body. Ignoring these sensations might make them feel worse.
  • Accepting moments. This means letting daily moments happen and not adding any thoughts to them. Reading too much into these moments can cause you to feel stressed. Sometimes, we simply need to sit with these moments and feelings and let them pass naturally.

By practicing any part of this three-step approach, hopefully you can reduce your stress and enjoy the present moment at the same time.

The content above took inspiration from the references seen below.


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  4. Lyddy, C. J., & Good, D. J. (2017). Being While Doing: An Inductive Model of Mindfulness at Work. Frontiers in psychology7, 2060.
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Contributors include.articlesFrançoise MathieuMary Ann BayntonSusan JakobsonTrinelle Brown

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