A simple tip for managing stress (and getting back in control...now)

A simple tip for managing stress (and getting back in control...now)

managing stress by being present

A friend told me yesterday that she can't wait for christmas just so she could get some rest and get back in control. She was really stressed, barely coping with work, family and everything else. It was hard to watch. She saw the christmas holidays as the way out but with 23 days to go, it was going to be a few tough weeks. And I'm sure she is not the only one in that boat.

So... I tried to help with what has worked for me, and here I am writing about it incase it helps you.

Stress management in one step?

It's a bold claim. I see lots of information around telling us how to managing stress, 11 tips here, 7 tips there, there is some great stuff and it's helpful. But when you boil it down, when you stressed, it needs to be simple and as easy as possible. Why have seven when one might do?

I am a subscriber to the KISS principle: Keep It Straight and Simple. So what I am discussing is exactly that, straight and simple. Here is one method that when applied, will have a direct impact on your stress levels, now and in the future. It did for me (still does) and works when I need it.

How does Anxiety exist?

A simple way to look at anxiety is to use a different word, uncertainty. The root of all anxiety is uncertainty, whether it is something coming up or something that has happened that is unresolved. And in this sentence we have the key.

Anxiety exists in thoughts about the future and past.

If I was to ask you to manage all the possible things in the future that could go wrong, it would be impossible. There is an infinite amount as there is infinite time in the future!. This is also true of the past. There is quite a bit of history and I'm sure we could find examples of many problems that have happened in the past. Logic says we have to stop trying to manage these issues, it's futile. If you do, you will probably die trying (from stress!). 

So, managing the timeframe of our thoughts is important. Really important. Which leads us to how you can manage stress.

How to manage (and in some cases, eliminate) stress?

Here it is.

Stop thinking about the future or past. Just think about now.

If we approach this from a timeframe perspective, it's logical. Thinking about "now" eliminates a lot of variables. There is less to manage, less that can go wrong. It's just what's happening around you, in your room, your office, in the park. The level of uncertainty is infinitely lower and as a result, you've got less to manage.

It keeps life simple for a while.

When you are feeling anxious, remember it has to do with the future and past. So stop being in the future and the past, and get back in real time. It definitely takes the load off, even for 5 minutes. Allow your mind to rest, recover and get your mental strength back. It's not procrastination, it's recharging. It's hard to do the heavy lifting if you have no mental strength.

This type of thinking is not new, it's been around for thousands of years. It has definitely helped me in all sorts of situations and has helped my mate who now has a bit more in the tank to get her to her holidays. I really hope this helps and would love to here how it goes.




As the founder of Change Chai, I am a practitioner of mindful living. I have worked extensively in positive cultural change in the industrial sectors for 15 years, helping to invoke change and building positive cultures within workgroups. I am also an ruOK Day Ambassador for mental health in my local community to help people be their best, more often.




Alistair Schuback
Alistair Schuback