When Tension Gets Out of Control - 3 Ways to DeStress

When personalities collide or the latest disaster hits the news-cycle, 
the physical tension can be almost unbearable. 

All the self care in the world can't seem to stop the emotional response of some trauma.  It doesn't mean you're not taking care of yourself.  It doesn't mean you're crazy.  These times are intense.

Here are my favorite go-to ways to ground myself and manage the tension:

  1. Breathe.
    Slow, deep breaths calm the Vagus nerve and stop the fight-or-flight symptoms of your parasympathetic nervous system.  If you already practice meditation, this type of breathing can instantly connect you to your meditation ritual and instantly calm you.
  2. Move.
    Meditative movement to running to boxing, movement will help you to connect with your body and get your energy flowing in a positive way instead of stagnating in stress hormones.  I find movement that requires a lot of mental concentration, like Qiqong or TaiChi to be best for me.  Experiment and figure out what gives you the most relief.
  3. Socialize (or don't).
    Depending on your personality type, just being around others can be a panacea, especially if the stress is being caused by a social or political event.  The adage "misery loves company" has some truth here.  It's comforting to know that you are not alone in your reactions or emotional state.  If you prefer to be alone, do so with intention.  Sit with your emotions in order to acknowledge and identify them.

Adapting to stressful situations doesn't just happen.  Get to know yourself, body and mind, and what you need to decompress.  Listen to the messages your body is sending you through physical tension and emotional stress and do something about it.  Ignoring these will usually only cause them to manifest in more unpleasant and potentially damaging ways.

Dr. Nancy Williams is a musician and leadership life coach who helps creatives build cultures of joy and empowerment.  Get weekly messages of inspiration, leadership tips, and a link to her latest blog by signing up here and receiving the free worksheet, "5 Steps to Overcoming Overwhelm."

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