So this time a month ago, my husband and I completed on our first ever house purchase. It was such an exciting moment. And also the beginning of what were probably the two most stressful subsequent weeks I have ever experienced. Ever.
Everything that could have gone wrong went wrong and all with a 19-month-tantruming toddler in tow. It also happened to fall the week before I was running a fully booked 3 day Mum & Baby Retreat for 11 mums and their babies (not intentional timing!). So, there was a LOT going on! And as I sit here a month later processing it all, I thought it would be a good time to share some tips on staying calm in stressful situations (having so recently experienced it myself!).
Stress in life is inevitable
Living in the modern world, we will inevitably all experience stress. Life is not about avoiding stress but about learning tools to avoid the stress impacting us in a negative way. Because when we do let stress affect us mentally and emotionally, it also impacts our whole body on a physical level (tight shoulders, headaches, raised heart rate - sound familiar?).
4 Tips to Stay Calm in Stressful Moments:
1. Get Over It!
Harsh as that sounds - its so easy to immediately find a place for blame when we are in the midst of stress - “oh, if only xyz had/hadn’t happened”/“Why oh why did we not get professionals?!”. One of my Dad’s favourite expressions in response to a stressful problem “Oh well. It is what it is” used to infuriate me when I was a much younger more angst-ridden version of myself. In my mind it implied powerless. That you weren't in CONTROL of the situation.
I couldn’t have been more wrong.
If you are busy trying to apportion blame for a situation, you are wasting energy that would be better spent on figuring out what positive steps you can take to improve things. On the flip side, if the situation is actually out of YOUR control and there isn't anything YOU can do, then what is the point of letting it impact you so negatively? Of course, it is always useful to re-evaluate situations once you are out of the crux of it (to work out how to avoid it happening again), but in the actual moment of stress, it it far more effective to accept the situation as it and move forward rather than wishing XYZ had happened so you wouldn't be experiencing this discomfort.
XYZ didn't happen.
So get out of your funk. Get over it. And get on with figuring out what you are going to do next.
Lets take a look at the power of the breath. Yes. Simply breathing can change your whole state of being. Even for a seasoned yoga and mindfulness coach like me, when the zillionth thing went wrong on our house move, I would find myself holding my breath. Its a natural response from the body. Normally our body is very intuitive with what it does but this is a bit of a funny one. You are literally depriving your body from oxygen when you need it the most!
If you find this happening take a moment to:
Place your hands on your belly.
Take a breath so deep your hands rise with your stomach as you inhale.
And then open your lips and exhale a sigh as long as you can make it.
Repeat five times if you are able. Even just doing it once will help. The trick is to focus on making the exhale as long as possible (at least as twice as long as inhale). The best thing is you can do it anywhere and without anyone noticing - so whether in a traffic jam, long queue, toddler meltdown extravaganza… Just. Remember. To. Breathe.
3. Rescue Remedy
Few drops on the tongue when needed. It lived in my pocket for easy access at all times during the house move. Completely natural (its power comes from flower essences). It works. Sold in most good pharmacies. HIGHLY recommend!
4. Release the Valve
So the above techniques are all well and good, but sometimes no matter how hard we try we just cannot help but lose our cool and feel the tension rise. In Chinese Medicine different organs in the body hold different emotions and your liver holds anger. We all know the phrase “So angry my blood was boiling”. Well, your liver filters your blood. So all that anger and toxic emotions can get stuck there. I am a firm advocate of releasing stored physical and emotional tension in the body so that you can break any negative cycles (i.e. that bad boyfriend ‘type’ that kept coming back?!) and be open to receiving positive experiences. One of my favourite ways to do this is with the Wood Chopper.
For anyone who hasn't heard of or done this before - you can either come to one of my 3rd Charka Fire and Block release sessions and do it with a group of other fabulous women or you can do it yourself following the steps below:
Take yourself to a quiet space, stand with your feet hip distance apart and knees soft.
Lift your arms above your head and interlace your fingers, imagine you are holding an axe above you.
Take a nice full inhale and then as you exhale shout out a really loud “HA” (don’t be shy here - make it LOUD) as you swing your arms (and imaginary axe) down on the imaginary wood below.
Repeat 5 times and then stand up with your arms alongside your body, let your fingers gently curl in towards your palms, close you eyes and take a few soft breaths. Feel the energy flowing around your body.
Repeat the cycle again as many times as you need.
This is powerful stuff and trust me - it works! If you can’t find a secluded spot then perhaps just warn your neighbours in advance…
This list could go on forever in terms of tools to help you deal with stress and I will be offering more tips on dealing with stress at the Women Who Do event on Thursday 9th November as well as offering a full 90 min workshop at New Energy Yoga in Winchester on Saturday 18th November. As entrepreneurial women we can often end up balancing so many plates and be pulled in so many different directions that we end up giving a lot of our energy to others.
By prioritising both your physical and mental wellbeing it will not only benefit you, making you happier, more productive and at ease, but will benefit everyone around you.
About the Author:
From working as an international corporate lawyer in her 20s, Holistic Women's Wellness Coach Suzanne (www.suzannecork.com) has firsthand experience of the impact of stress and fast paced living on health and wellness. During her workshop she will share ways to incorporate mindfulness into your busy life so you can experience more focussed thinking, improved problem-solving and increased productivity as a result. Holistic Wellness for Women: