Rushing to meet deadlines. Bobbing and weaving through traffic to pick the kids up on time. The clerk at the gas station reminds you of your Dad and you flinch. Staring into an empty fridge, you realize there’s nothing for dinner. You overhear your son repeating one of Mom’s favorite phrases and you cringe. The dog is shoving in front of you to inspect the fridge contents.
At best, you are stressed. No doubt about it.
If the Mom and Dad statements hit a nerve, you may experience Emotional Flashbacks.
Either way, you need to calm down.
Below are 6 and ½ ways to do just that. Try them all at once or one at a time. Mix and match given time constraints or interest at the moment. Rest assured, if you engage if these activities on a regular basis, you’re amped up nervous system will breathe a sigh of relief.
1. Writing Meditation
If you’re practiced in meditation, this’ll come easy. If not, no worries. Pen in hand, simply bring your awareness to your body and write what you notice. Tight shoulders. Tongue pressed against the roof of mouth. An itch on right thigh. Write it all. No judgement; no attempt to understand. Just write. The longer, the better but a good time frame is 5-10 minutes. If you only have 2 minutes, that works too.
2. Notes to Self
Choose one of the things you noticed in your body and write a short letter to it. Take your tight shoulders. What do you have to say to those tight shoulders? What do you have to ask? Imagining your tight shoulders as an entity, a person in and of themselves. What would you say to someone who feels the way those shoulders feel? What do those tight shoulders have to tell you? Your body knows you better than your head does, it communicates through physical sensations. Approach this exercise from a place of curiosity and compassion. Write about as many noticing’s from the first exercise as you have time for.
3. Gratitude Journal
An old favorite, whether you do this daily or only occasionally, it will work wonders. When we are super stressed, we lean more and more in the direction of negative noticing and struggle like crazy to find good in anything or anyone. This timeout gives you a moment to breath and consider the world around you with love and appreciation.
4. Words as Medicine
What words does your stressed out self need to hear right now? Write another type of note to self, saying all the things you’d say to your best friend if he/she felt the way you do right now.
5. Fiction Prompt
Sometimes we just need to get away. A mini vacation of sorts. Writing a fictional piece, even if only a few paragraphs allows you a sense of escape while also allowing you to come at issues sideways. It can also be a great way to let loose and get silly and fantastical.
6. TV Says?
If you don’t want to give up your evening TV binge, this is the prompt for you. Write what you hear. You won’t be able to keep up and write it all verbatim. That’s ok. Write what you can and forget the missing pieces. Or approach it as note taking with bullets and summary.
6 1/2. TV Says? With a twist…
If you wrote what you could and forgot the missing pieces, go back later and fill in the missing pieces. You can do this from memory of the plot of the show. Better yet, you can have fun, creating your own plot or taking the characters in wacky directions. When a plot line irks you, rewrite it.
Sometimes we need to pause and just breathe. Sometimes we need to be silly and crazy and act like a 10 year old. Honor what you’re telling yourself you need. This list provides a spectrum to choose from to help you calm and regain equilibrium.