pos·si·bil·i·ty n.   One that is capable of being chosen or of being made real.

OBPOV: Everyday Ways to Cope With Stress

| 6 MINS

Your Guide to a 10-Second Reset Today

A female professional closes her eyes and rubs her temples.

Let me ask you something:

Would you walk around all day with a rock in your shoe?

Before I go for a run, I get anxious about my shoes being tied just right, so then of course I retie them. My socks also have to be just right, so that can take some adjusting. And in at least one out of three runs, I feel like there is a rock in my shoe. So I have to stop, take off my shoe (and readjust my sock) and remove the rock.

Rock might be an exaggeration. It feels like a rock, but when I get it out, it’s the size of a grain of sand. But you know that feeling when it feels so big under your foot.

Even if you’re not a runner, or an anxious one like me, I’m willing to bet that you don’t like walking around with a rock in your shoe. And, like me, you’ll take the 30 seconds or so that it takes to reset.

And yet, in other areas of our life, those rocks come to us and build up. We don’t stop to untie our proverbial shoes.

Here’s what I’m talking about.

Have you had one of those days where everything seems to be working against you and you can just feel it piling up? You woke up late. Your work calendar is stacked. You have a looming deadline. You get stuck in traffic.

Any one of these stressors on its own might be totally manageable. But when they all happen in one day, the stress just builds and builds until finally you’re standing in a long line at the grocery store — or you accidentally spill a glass of water or someone asks you the wrong question — and that’s the thing that makes you lose your sh*&. And they’re just looking at you like, “I just wanted to know if you want paper or plastic.”

And that was just one day. Imagine what happens to our bodies when we let stress build day over day.

We’re talking about stress? I thought we were talking about rocks. I know — it’s so confusing. Let’s back up.

Stress is emotional or physical tension created by a perceived* challenge, demand or threat.

*Side note: “Perceived” is an interesting word here. Whether it’s real or we believe it’s real, our bodies react to it. It’s a whole separate topic that I’m not going into, but the takeaway is that mindset matters. Train your brain; the body will follow

Train your brain; the body will follow

Mostly, stress gets a bad rap.

Short bursts of stress can be productive and even healthy. In a stressful situation, your body releases cortisol, which can be good. Cortisol can propel you to take action or motivate you to meet a deadline. All good.

Ideally, after a short period of time, your body recognizes that you are out of a stressful situation, and your cortisol levels decrease.

We can even reframe the stress in our minds to think of the situation as exciting, rather than scary. All good uses for stress.

But stress is really one of those things that is best in small doses. In the emotional pyramid, it’s at the top.

Too much stress or longer periods of stress can reduce our ability to be creative or productive, affecting what we eat and how much. Stress can make it difficult to fall asleep and even more difficult to get up and do that workout in the morning. Stress can affect how we treat our people and ultimately hurt our relationships, which can lead to more stress. It’s all a messy web, and each piece matters.

Letting stress build up to the point of burnout or exhaustion can leave you in a place that takes weeks or even years to recover from. The longer the stress builds, the longer it takes to recover.

And that’s because our body’s stress response was not designed to be “on” all the time.

Read more about the basics of stress in this article from McLean Hospital, the largest psychiatric teaching hospital of Harvard Medical School.

Imagine if you always drove your car at 95 miles an hour. Even if you’re a super-skilled driver, at some point (if you don’t crash into something), the car runs out of gas.

So, that’s why you’ll hear advice like disconnect from the computer this weekend, go for a hike, meditate, get a massage. Even better, enjoy your vacation.

All wonderful advice. I hope that you are using some of these stress management tools, and I hope they are effective for you. The problem is that those are all kind of big moments that may not be attainable today. What about right now?

Another way to cope.

If those big moments feel unattainable, then we might be left to think, “This is just life. I just have to hold on, Hold on until happy hour. Hold on until the weekend. Hold on until vacation. Hold on for some unreasonable amount of timing, letting stress wreak havoc on my body.

As David Rose would say, “That is incorrect.” (If you’re not a “Schitt’s Creek” fan, that might not be as funny, but still true.)

You don’t have to wait for the weekend.

You don’t have to hold on until vacation.

You don’t have to let the rocks pile up.

You don’t have to wait for a big moment in time.

You can find pockets in your day (or schedule them in) to create small moments to de-stress. You deserve and need a moment to signal to your body that you are OK.

Here are a few ideas for you to try today. Repeat as often as needed.

10-Second Reset

Jump up and down.

Bonus: Jumping can also boost mood because the brain produces more dopamine. Yay for happy feelings!

Stand outside and breathe in the fresh air.

Doesn’t that just sound lovely? Read more about the magic of the outdoors.

Practice two-to-one breathing.

Breath work signals to your brain that it can relax, helping to reduce heart rate.

Find someone to hug.

Research shows that the most pleasant hug is five to 10 seconds long.

10-Minute Timeout

Call a friend.

Actually, this only takes eight minutes. Research shows that talking to a friend for eight minutes can help improve your mood.

Take a walk.

Feel the cortisol melt away and the increased oxygen and blood flow to the brain. New perspective. New mood.

Make some tea.

Use the time to clear your head, not look at your phone.

Lie down, flat on your back, with legs up the wall. Breathe.

A yoga instructor once told me that lying in this position with legs up the wall will greatly reduce your chances of giving a fu%#.

And Bonus:

Tonight, when you’re listing your gratitudes, you can think back on that 10-second reset or that 10-minute timeout and think, “I’m grateful I gave myself that time.”

Please note: If you have concerns with chronic stress, talk to your doctor or a mental health professional. If you are experiencing a mental health crisis, you can call or text 988 (National Suicide & Crisis Hotline) or check-in to your nearest emergency room.

Margaret Faintich is a Group Account Director and OBP’s resident wellness guru. She is also a Nutritious Life Master Certified Nutrition and Wellness Coach. You can find her wellness blog at b’vive.co

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