Over the course of a day you can encounter many small stressful situations. Maybe a difficult problem to solve, a difficult decision to make, some conflict, maybe a paper cut or a stubbed toe.
These stressors tend to linger in your mind. By the end of the day you can feel stressed even if all the sources of stress are long gone.
Even when you’ve solved all your problems, made all the difficult decisions, and your toe no longer hurts, you can still feel amiss.
Fortunately the lingering stress is often purely psychological. It’s accumulated in your mind but no longer present outside your mind.
It’s like a swing. Each stressful situation is like a person pushing you in a swing, they give another shove and the swing moves a bit higher. Next stressor pushes a bit higher and faster.
Now if there were no further pushes, the swing would eventually calm down on its own.
But, thoughts can be a source of feedback too. Your thoughts give you little pushes that keep the swing moving.
When you worry about the stress it’s a push. Or maybe a better way to think of worrying, it’s like kicking your feet to build your own momentum.
Thoughts can keep the swing swinging all day.
But by the end of the day, most of the time the stress isn’t real anymore. It’s an illusion. It feels real but it’s not.
When this happens there’s an easy way to drain the stress. To stop the swing.
It starts with understanding that your mental state is largely a function of two things: how you physically feel and what you’re thinking about.
So, take 10 minutes to close your eyes and scan your body. Try to feel each part of your body.
When thoughts arise, acknowledge them–without judgement–and then go back to feeling your body.
If you stop the thoughts, even for a few minutes, and instead only observe your physically stable body. It’s natural for your mind to calm down rather rapidly when it realizes that the stress is no longer present.
In essence, you’ll stop kicking your feet and the swing will quickly lose momentum.