Just relax. Chill out. Take it easy.
Easier said than done, right?
Being able to handle stress and relax your mind is a skill that needs practice. It’s a habit, and like any habit, it’s one that needs to be built and maintained.
But how do you do that?
The good news is that Richard Templar, the author of the best-selling The Rules Of… series, says it’s really not too difficult.
‘Yep, you can train yourself to respond in more relaxed ways to stressful situations, and the more you practise, the easier it gets to turn off the stress and worry,’ he tells Metro.co.uk.
‘Of course you’ll never sail through the worst of life’s crises, but anything that takes the edge off is worthwhile. Meantime you can cope way better with life’s day-to-day frustrations.
‘The more you use the neural pathways in your brain, the stronger they become. So the more you practise being relaxed, the easier it is to slip into that mode next time.’
Ahead, he breaks down six techniques to start using to train your brain to approach problems in a calmer way.
Stay in the present
‘There are lots of great techniques for focusing on “now”, which is just what you need when you’re inclined to worry about what’s coming up,’ Richard explains.
‘You need to stop using the “worry” neural pathway and switch to something more relaxing.
‘So consider mindfulness, yoga, meditation, gardening, running… whichever one of those you’ll enjoy. And the more you do it, the better it will work to relax you.’
Give yourself a choice
A simple mindset switch can make a big difference to your experience of stress.
‘It may surprise you to know that it’s not always so hard to switch off the stress,’ Richard tells us.
‘Say the traffic’s building up and you’re going to be late for your appointment. You have two options: be late and stressed, or be late and not stressed. Sounds like a no-brainer to me.
‘You can’t avoid being late but you can avoid being stressed. Just realising that you are, in effect, choosing stress should help you to reject it. Turn on the radio and sing along. You might as well.’
It’s always a surprise when the simple act of breathing makes such a dramatic difference to your mental and physical state.
Every day, try some breathing techniques designed to reduce stress. Get used to doing them, so when you’re feeling overwhelmed and need to quickly relax, you can deploy a technique that works for you.
Change your language
Richard says: ‘What are you saying to yourself when you get anxious? Y
‘ou can make a big difference to how you feel by moderating the language you use – even inside your own head.
‘Practise finding the right vocabulary to ease your stress rather than fuel it. Is this really a crisis, or just a glitch?’
‘If you’re prone to flap when you’re worried, learn to slow yourself down,’ Richard suggests. ‘Work out your priorities and make yourself do one thing at a time – call the AA, then phone to say you’ll be late, then cool the car down – or whatever.
‘Writing things down, whether it’s your feelings or a to-do list, forces your brain to slow down in order to write.’
Plan a relaxing break
‘No, listen,’ says Richard. ‘The point about this is to recognise that half the benefit of a relaxing break is in the anticipation.
‘A friend of mine recently had to cancel a dream holiday because she got Covid. But the planning of it had kept her going through a tough year at work and given her a place to escape to in her head when things started to get on top of her. So, she’d gained hugely from the holiday even without taking it.
‘Of course, it’s better if you get to go, but recognise the value of planning and dreaming it too.’
Richard Templar is the author of the global best-selling The Rules Of… series. The Rules Of Everything is published by Pearson, priced at £12.99, and is available from Amazon and all good book stores.
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