1. Breathe. When you read an article that makes your blood boil and your focus falters, set aside two minutes for slow and steady breathing. When we’re under stress, blood pressure rises and cognition and mental control plummet. These changes are governed by the autonomic nervous system—named thus because it handles all kinds of automatic processes you normally can’t control. But you have one doorway into that system: your breathing. By breathing slowly and deeply while feeling and focusing on the inhale and exhale, you can voluntarily trigger the relaxation response, which helps restore balance to the nervous system following a stressful encounter.
2. Movement – Move a muscle and change a thought. Stretch in your chair, get up, somewhere other than where you are and bring focus to where you are and get back into your body. Stretch out the frustration, whatever it is and be aware of your breath again.
3. Show Kindness – This applies to yourself as well as others. Realize that “this too will pass” and give yourself a verbal hug. You don’t need to get carried away by your thoughts and your emotions, It will change, like a bad wind, it will soon calm down, shhh shhh, it’s going to be okay.
4. Get outside. If you’ve been brooding on something, take a walk in the park. A 2015 Stanford study found that after walking through a campus park at their own pace, subjects showed drastically reduced rumination. Walking on a highway didn’t help—so stay away from traffic and go for someplace green. Better yet, grab a friend to go with you: one study of more than 1,500 people found that group nature walks “mitigate the effects of stressful life events on perceived stress and negative affect while synergizing with physical activity to improve positive affect and mental well-being.” If you don’t speak nerd, allow me to translate: Walking in nature with other people can make you happy.
5. Be mindful, sitting, walking, breathing, awareness, beginner’s mind, etc.. There are numerous forms of mindfulness, but one, in particular, has been shown to help mend the places where our social relationships tend to fray during trying times. Loving-kindness, or Metta meditation, is a traditional practice that involves focusing on thoughts and feelings of compassion for ourselves, loved ones, strangers, and even enemies. This type of mindfulness, visualization practice, has also become one of the most widely researched meditation practices. People who practice Loving Kindness regularly, for as little as eight to 15 minutes, show increases in positive emotions and a deeper sense of social connection, increased immune function, perhaps even reductions in cellular aging. Which is not only good for you, it also helps the people around you: Metta meditators demonstrate greater altruistic behavior and reduced implicit bias. Try it yourself
May I/you be protected and safe.
May I/you be happy and at ease.
May I/you be healthy and strong.
May I/you care for myself/yourself wisely.
May I/you be at peace.