THE BLOG
09/30/2015 10:50 am ET Updated Sep 30, 2016

How to Immediately De-Stress When You Are Overwhelmed

Usually the only time you remember to deal with your stress is when you are in a "state of overwhelm." When you feel that you can't get to everything on your list and your physical well being starts to suffer, you suddenly realize you're stressed. This leads to feeling you can't stop to take a break or you'll be even more behind, which adds more stress. Even if you don't remember to reduce stress in your life on a daily basis, when you are overwhelmed there are ways you can respond effectively to your stress and strain.

The first thing you must accept is that you can't wait until everything on your list is finished for the stress to go away, you'll just have to stop and take a break. During that break you can use some techniques to de-stress and get back to center.

This is exactly what I do when I'm overwhelmed. Knowing that I cannot eliminate all my stressors at once, I do a few things that immediately alleviate stress. Here are five things that help me de-stress and work right away. They may help you too.

1. Listen to the right kind of music. Find the music that is specifically uplifting and soothing just for you. Music has an amazing way to shift your mood and alter your feelings instantly and you can use it to create a mood and feeling that is stress relieving. Everyone is different; so make sure you pick music that really has an affect on you in a positive way. I have a special playlist where I collect music that calms me and makes me feel great. Every time I discover a piece of music that shifts my mood and feelings to calm exhilaration, I put it in the playlist to listen to later. If I hear music I like in a public place, I often use the app SoundHound on my phone to find out what it is and book mark it to download later. Then when I'm stressed I just listen to that play list and it alleviates my stress right away.

2. Be somewhere different. Taking a break and changing your surroundings can go a long way in relieving your stress. Our state of mind is unknowingly linked to our surroundings and where you are located physically. Just changing my surroundings by going somewhere else, even if it is outside, or perhaps down the hallway to a different room or space can shift my state of mind. I like to find a calm place to move to when I feel stressed, whether it is sitting outside looking at the trees, or on a bench where I can watch people walk by. Changing my surroundings allows me to take a break from stress and relax.

3. Exercise even a little. When your body is in a state of stress, it creates stress hormones. Also, when you are stressed you take shallow breaths as you breathe and that reduces your blood oxygen levels. To reverse all of this a little exercise can make a big difference. I will often take a short walk and the more stressed I am the faster I walk. The exercise gets my blood moving and helps eliminate the stress hormones and makes me breathe more deeply increasing my blood oxygen level.

4. Commune with an animal. I love animals and just watching them calms me down right away. The stress reducing effects of petting an animal has long been scientifically demonstrated. Even if you don't have a pet, just watching the birds or small animals out in the yard can be calming and also change your stressed state of mind to a more relaxed one. Just being with my pet cat, D'Artagnan, helps my stress melt away.

5. Take your mind off it. By changing what you are occupying your mind with you can easily de-stress. Laughter is a great cure for stress. YouTube is an easy place to find fun things to make you laugh. You can't be stressed when you're laughing. A study in the American Journal of Medical Sciences indicates that "mirthful laughter" can help reduce stress hormones. I usually watch videos from shows or comedians I like just to get out of the overwhelm stress feeling.

While life will always have its stressors, these are the few ways that I handle life's stress from overwhelm. They work for me every time.

Music that calms me:
Om Bhagavan -- by Sudha -- Sharanam: Sacred Chants of Devotion
Prayer -- by Hayley Westenra -- Odyssey

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