Stress—that physical or emotional tension we feel in response to something that happens. Some manage it well, some not so much. Since we live in a world filled with rapid change, and much of it is not in our control, there are many opportunities to get tense, worried, and frazzled. The best defense to battle those feelings is to develop resilience to stress, so it doesn’t affect you quite so much.
The first step is to recognize that you are anxious about something by knowing what stress feels like in your body. Do you tighten your shoulders or feel it in your neck? For me, it’s a heaviness in my chest at first, and then it moves up from there.
It might manifest into a headache. I used to get migraines when things got strained. Since that was no fun, I went on a quest to learn how to manage stress.
The next step is to acknowledge the feelings that arise when you start to stiffen up. Understanding what’s happening will allow you to respond instead of reacting, and you can choose to use different ways to develop resilience to it.
You Can Develop Resilience to Stress, Too
Everyone has lived and learned. But sometimes, we get so buried in the stress that we forget the lessons, and a gentle reminder is all we need.
All of those life skills you have acquired are in what I call your treasure chest.
When you imagine that everything you’ve ever learned is at your fingertips, then all you have to do is open the lid of your treasure chest and pull one out one of your life tools. Dust it off if you need to, and put it into practice.
Because it’s the practice part of it that builds resilience.
I will bet that all of the following tools are already in your treasure chest. Given that fact, it means that stress will not be the winner in your life. Therefore, you already have “life hacks” available to you.
And, you get to choose how to bounce back from stress when you put one or more of these tips into play.
11 Life Hacks to Build Resilience to Stress
- Laugh, or at least smile
It is one of the best stress-relievers I know. Whenever you can turn an anxious moment into a humorous one, you have completely changed the dynamic of the situation.
- Make a plan
Usually, feeling stressed about something means you don’t know how to handle it. It might also mean that you have some fear going on. That’s normal—and it happens to all of us. What if, instead of focusing on what you don’t know or fear, which causes stress, you concentrate on what you could do to find a solution to the challenge, reducing the stress?
- Write it out—then talk it out
Another way to combat stress is to look it in the eye and call it by name. First, spend time writing about the circumstances creating the angst, and be specific. Then, capture the details about who, what, where, and when. Try your best to take the emotion and judgment out of the story. Next, talk with a trusted ally to share the specifics—and keep to the facts, not the drama. This approach will help you to see the situation for what it is. As a result, you’ll start to see solutions to reducing stress.
- What’s the cause? How can you change it?
While you’re writing, include information about what caused you to feel stressed about the situation. Details, please. Then, think about why it upset you and get curious about what you could do to change the outcome. Whenever you are on a search for solutions, you are developing resilience to stress. Do you see how that can work?
- Reframe the stress
This idea can be a tough one to grasp for some people. If it is for you, don’t worry. Try another idea and come back to this when you’ve mastered the rest.
What I mean by reframing is to think about the stress in a new way. Let’s say someone pushes your buttons, you react with anger, and you can’t get it out of your head. The stress levels are rising. What if you imagined that same incident differently. Instead of reacting to the situation, you could pause for a moment, take a breath, and decide that the experience was a teaching moment. In other words, you reframe stress to a lesson—which is another excellent way to build resilience to stress.
- Visualize the opposite
This one is relatively easy. Instead of feeling stressed, close your eyes and choose one of these feelings instead: calm, relaxed, serene, undisturbed, assured, contented, confident. So, pick a word and focus on how that feels. What does it look like? And how does your body respond to it? Now that you’ve found the feeling you’d rather have instead, you can choose that in place of the stressed-out feeling. Resilience is building.
- Breathe in—exhale relaxation
Breathing is underrated. But, it is a powerful tool in your treasure chest and can make every anxious moment feel much better. Research breathing techniques—there are many. Try one or two. Which one allows you to inhale deeply and exhale all the stress, so you can feel more relaxed, clear-headed, and ready to move on.
- Soothe your body, mind, and spirit with herbals
The aroma, warmth, and soothing flavors of chamomile, lavender, peppermint, and lemon balm will get you started on the right road to relaxation. De-stressing over a cup of tea does wonders for me. I get to pause, breathe in the comforting scents, and let my mind wander as it wonders what I can do differently. As you can see, there are a bunch of hacks all in one place in this one.
- Listen to music, books, or guided meditation
What works best for you is the ticket to this ride. Take a break, put on your earphones, and plug into your favorite mode of retreat. Sometimes, feeling stressed requires you to remove yourself, refresh your attitude, and reset your energy. What’s the best way for you? Develop your resilience to stress by doing more of what works. After you’ve relaxed a bit, you’ll be able to tackle the tough situations better.
- Get a hug
Easy-peasy. Call a friend who gets what you’re going through. Try using the ‘talk it out’ hack mentioned in #3, then let her know you need to release the stress physically with a big bear hug. Take a deep breath—get a big hug—let go of the tension brewing in your body. Then decide what comes next. Life Hack #4 may come in handy about now. Do you see how all these are connected?
- Shake it out
This hack is my favorite, and I learned it from my fur-babies. Have you noticed how a dog or cat, after they hit their head, shakes their whole body from head to toe? My little Pomeranian does the body shake after I groom her, which is not her favorite pastime. I’ve observed that these beautiful creatures use an innate behavior to shake off what stresses them so they can move on—a good lesson.
Be careful not to shake so hard your ears flap, but give this one a try. Do it in front of a mirror if you want to take advantage of Hack #1. Physically releasing your stress in some manner helps you to clear the way to move beyond it.
I hope some of these easy to implement life hacks help you to develop resilience to stress. It takes a mindset shift, thinking of stress differently, and applying tried and true techniques that help you face those anxious moments head-on.
And, another thing it takes is practice. You build resilience to stress by recognizing it, facing it head-on, and recovering from the difficulties quickly. That means you bounced back, learned lessons, and have more tools in your treasure chest for the next time stress tries to derail you. Resilience built.
The First Step
So, if you are facing stressful situations and are uncertain about moving beyond it, you may wonder if it’s even possible. Making choices that build your resilience and move you forward can be challenging, and getting some guidance may be just what you need. Start by exploring how change can impact you. And learn how to move through it with more dignity and grace by reading my free ebook, then let’s have a chat. Click here to take the first step: From Darkness to Light: Learning to Adapt to Change and Move Through Transition.