Good vibes only: stress relief in the modern world
May 19, 2017
Owning a successful business is associated with a lot of positives: making your own schedule, drawing outside of the lines, and bringing your vision to life. That said, at the end of the day your successes AND your failures rest squarely on your shoulders. You laugh at 9 to 5, you don’t see family or friends as much as you’d like, and every choice you make puts your livelihood at risk. In short, you live a stressful life, and on the hierarchy of emotions, stress is in the lowest category alongside similarly destructive feelings like frustration and irritation.
How do you crush your stress and live your best life?
Put a name to it
According to the American Psychological Association, there are 3 types of stress:
- Acute: The most common type of stress, acute stress, is described by the APA as “thrilling and exciting in small doses, but too much is exhausting.” If you thrive under pressure, a little acute stress can seem like a good thing, but beware: too much will cause burnout.
- Episodic acute: Do you “take on too much, have too many irons in the fire, and … seem perpetually in the clutches of acute stress”? Having numerous irons in the fire is practically de rigueur for an entrepreneur, but if you feel persistently worried, rushed and pulled in too many directions with no time for organization, you’re likely suffering from episodic acute stress.
- Chronic: As described by the APA, chronic stress “wreaks havoc through long-term attrition.” This type of stress feels endemic, unrelenting and – worst of all – familiar.
You may have convinced yourself that a high-stress level is an unavoidable part of life – but it doesn’t have to be that way. We’ve put together some stress-relieving tips and tricks to keep you in your a-player frame of mind.
You’re rarely more than a few feet away from your phone, laptop, smartwatch, etc., you likely won’t be surprised to learn that as far as stress-busting goes, there’s an app for that. In fact, there’s a whole range offering everything from guided meditation sessions to quick breathing exercises. Dip into an app whenever you have a little free time, or schedule regular reminders using your smartphone’s calendar or the app itself.
Here are a few of our favorites (don’t see yours? Let us know!):
- Pacifica: available for both Androids and iPhones, Pacifica is designed to help people with anxiety, stress, and depression. This app offers meditation audio tools, guided self-help paths, mood tracker, thought recording, journaling and analysis, daily challenges and goal tracking, health trackers and the ability to join communities and groups so you don’t feel alone.
- Calm: looking for something with fewer features and a more meditative focus? Welcome to Calm, available for Androids and iPhones, this app focuses more on meditation. It offers daily 10-minutes programs, sleep stories, breathing exercises, white noise and some guided and unguided meditation.
- Colorfy: Meditation not your thing? Coloring has been a craze sweeping adults across the globe. There are few things more nostalgic and satisfying than coloring. There are several coloring apps on the market but Colorfly, for Androids and iPhones, seems to be the best.
Stretch it out
Between your irregular work hours and frequent travel, signing up for a yoga class probably isn’t feasible. That said, there’s no reason you can’t still reap the benefits of this ancient practice – you just need to get creative. Believe it or not, there are a lot of yoga stretches you can do at your desk or elsewhere in your office. As well as offering mental stress relief, yoga is also a great way to loosen up your body and lessen the negative physical effects associated with sitting for an extended period of time.
Talk about it
There’s no shame in asking for help, especially from someone whose profession aims to provide just that. Using Psychology Today’s online Find a Therapist feature is an easy way to get local listings for psychologists, psychiatrists, therapists and counselors near your ZIP code or city. Sometimes, talk therapy and stress management exercises are enough to meaningfully reduce stress levels and new apps, like Talk Space, make your sessions easier to do on the go.
Take a break
Taking a break may feel like the last thing you want to do when you’re in the zone or on a tight deadline, but its benefits can’t be overstated. Whether you watch a funny online video for a few minutes or head off on a grand adventure to explore the planet, stepping away from work literally and figuratively may just be the best stress-buster out there.