Quick Stress Relief

Quickly calm yourself when you're stressed.

Stever Robbins
4-minute read
Episode #204

The end of the year can be a stressful time. We're expected to spend lots of time with relatives. We haven't trained them well, so they happily share their lives with us. "You'll love sharing a room with little Timmy! He can perform the entire Star Wars trilogy. In song!" Er, yeah. I'm already saving up to send Timmy to theater camp. Far, far away.

My friend Europa is frantic around New Years. Not only does she have family concerns to deal with, but her business empire spans the globe. She has all kinds of end-of-year preparations to make. She has money to shift into off-shore accounts, balance sheets to adjust, and plans for next year. She was so stressed that she actually showed up to the office with wrinkles in her power suit and a cracked heel in her new pair of Jimmy Choo's.

Bernice, on the other hand, is pretty much unflappable. She's got a rock solid presence, which makes her formidable, and a source of strength. Europa vanished into Bernice's office and came out a few minutes later, calm, put-together, and cool as a cucumber.

Here are the 5 stress-relief tips Bernice had for Europa:

Tip #1: Where Is Your Stress?

Stress happens in your body. Bernice meditates daily, so she has a keen self-awareness. Next time you are stressed, pay attention to your body. Where do you feel your stress? For me, it's a tingling down my midline, and a tightness in my chest. My breath becomes shallow and fast, and I clench my jaw. All it would take is a couple of bolts and I'd look like Frankenstein's monster. Before you can do anything about your stress, you have to find out where it is located.

Tip #2: Center Yourself

When you notice you're in a state of stress, change your body. Bernice consulted Dr. Stuart Heller of CultivatingExcellence.com. Stuart is a martial artist who developed a way to reorient your entire body to being centered and calm. He says the secret to life isn't about staying centered, it's about regaining your center as quickly as possible when you lose it.

His technique is simple: Notice the feelings in your body. You can do it right now, while you listen or read. First, find your feet and legs. Not the detachable ones; the ones that are still part of your body. Notice how they feel, and where they are in space.

Second, find your arms and hands. Again, just notice the feelings and where they are in space. Third, find your spine, neck, and head. Now take a deep breath and let the feeling expand from your chest to your legs, feet, arms, hands, spine, and head.

You should now feel quieter, calmer, more centered. It's that easy. If for some reason the technique didn't work for you, take a deep breath and try again. If it still doesn't work, maybe the stress gives you a deep, hidden psychological benefit. And now you can get even more of the benefit by stressing about the technique not working.


About the Author

Stever Robbins

Stever Robbins was the host of the podcast Get-it-Done Guy from 2007 to 2019. He is a graduate of W. Edward Deming’s Total Quality Management training program and a Certified Master Trainer Elite of NLP. He holds an MBA from the Harvard Business School and a BS in Computer Sciences from MIT.