When we’re feeling stressed out, we can’t always get to our favorite method to relieve stress. We need to know how to relieve stress right there in the moment. One of the best ways to to do this is to learn our triggers so we can avoid stress in the first place.
Relieve stress by identifying triggers
Triggers don’t necessarily have to be physical. There are lots of behaviors, associations, or beliefs that can trigger you also. For instance, maybe a really stressful day with the kids can send you on a shopping spree to relieve the negative feelings. However, what you end up with are things you don’t need and that add to your clutter. This retail therapy also rarely makes you feel better long-term. Instead, you often end up feeling guilty and the added clutter just adds to the stress. This creates a cycle that feeds a physical stress trigger. An example of a physical trigger might be noticing the stack of boxes that are piling up in your garage because you haven’t been able to face the pressure of sorting through them. Retail therapy only compounds this problem. And, it can cause financial and relational stress if you accumulate debt because of it.
Find the root of your triggers
What’s important is that you learn to recognize your triggers. Knowing the problem is essential to dealing with it. In order to truly know it, you sometimes have to do some deep emotional digging. This can be painful, but it’s worth it in order to help eliminate these triggers that upset you. I find writing things down or journaling helps a lot in spotting triggers. Write down any negative feelings you associate with a particular item or other influence. Ask yourself why you might feel this way and keep asking yourself questions until a pattern begins to emerge.
One way to do this is to keep asking, “Why?” For example, Why am I frustrated/angry/uptight/resentful? Why does that thing cause me to feel that way? Why do I believe that? Sometimes, through repeated questioning, we can reveal deep emotional scars or ingrained lies we believe. We can take these to the Lord for healing and learn how to forgive others. It also allows us to learn more about our own hidden weaknesses and stress triggers so we can deal with them in a healthy way.
How to relieve stress in minutes
For us Christians, meditation looks different than the usual “empty your mind.” We don’t empty our minds, we focus our minds on one thing. That one thing is a chosen Bible verse, a particular event in which we clearly felt God’s presence, or a prayer. We can also incorporate deep breathing for stress relief, breathing out all the negativity and bad thinking. Then, we breathe in more of Jesus, who gave us life with his very own breath and breathed the Holy Spirit into us. (see Job 33:4, John 20: 21)
Meditation is a practice that can provide tremendous calming benefits. It’s easy to do and is especially effective when done regularly. Give it a try to see how meditating works for you.
Need a bit of help finding some good verses on which to meditate? Need a more structured approach? Check out our 30 Day Journaling with Jesus book.
Deep breathing to relieve stress
What about in the moment? What can you do when your mind goes blank and you can’t remember a single verse? When those moments hit, you can try deep breathing to relieve stress. One of the easiest ways to start is a simple breathing exercise. As I mentioned, it can help you to gain focus and to “blow away” stress.
Find a quiet space with a comfortable chair. The bathroom with the door shut works nicely! Sit up straight, with your feet flat on the floor. You could also take a seated position on a floor pillow, if you prefer. Begin by inhaling deeply, pushing your stomach muscles, or diaphragm, outward. Inhale slowly, allowing your stomach to return to its resting position. Continue this until you find a comfortable rhythm. Try to focus on Jesus as you breathe deeply. It might help to close your eyes. Breathe in for five seconds, breathe out for five seconds. Repeat. You will feel your tense muscles loosen and your mind growing calmer.
It might feel weird at first because many of us are used to shallow breathing and expanding our stomachs, not our chests. Five minutes is usually long enough to gain the benefits, but your session can be as long as is comfortable when starting out.
Count to ten
It may sound too good to be true, but this strategy really works. Just count slowly from one to ten. Try to breathe deeply as you do, as this will enhance the effects. This little trick can help you to quickly gain control of your emotions and feel calmer in a pinch.
Close Your Eyes
Yep. Shutting your eyes for a moment blocks out a great deal of the stimuli that vie for your attention. This brief period of visual stillness will allow you to gather your thoughts and to calm yourself.
Move Your Body
Exercise is a fantastic way to get your blood flowing and your heartbeat racing. You’ll also amp up the productions of endorphins in your body, providing you with extra energy to attack your issues. You don’t have to do a full-blown exercise to benefit, though. Taking a leisurely stroll might actually be best during times when you need to chill out. This relaxing activity gets you moving, literally. It can remove you from a stressful environment and give you fresh perspective.
Try Progressive Muscle Relaxation
An easy way to relieve stress without having to exercise, or even move out of your chair, is progressive muscle relaxation. This practice involves tensing and releasing the stress from every muscle group in your body. You can start with your head and work your way downward. Tense up the muscles in your face, hold for a few seconds and then release. This exercise can be completed in just a few minutes, and you’ll feel tons better when it’s over.
Listen to Some Music
I love to listen to worship music as an easy way to relieve stress. Worship helps me refocus and dispel all those whirling thoughts in a pinch. Softer tunes, like Michael W. Smith, calm me down. Upbeat music, like For King and Country, add energy when I need a boost. Listening to the lyrics and singing along really helps, too. Whatever you choose, music can have a profound effect on your feelings and is a good option to rely on when you want to calm down or feel better.
Take a Bath
Lying in a bath of warm water can be quite soothing to the soul for many. It’s relaxing and can actually seem to transport you to another place. This is especially true when you add bubbles and a nice scent. Aromatherapy will add yet another layer to this calming routine.
These are just a handful of easy ways to relieve stress. Choose the ones that resonate with you, and give them a try the next time you feel overwhelmed or when life is chaotic.