How To Relax When Stress Overwhelms You: 5 Key Questions to Ask Yourself

Do you know how to relax when stress overwhelms you? I'm betting that even if you do know, since you are reading this, it probably goes right out the window when the s**t hits the fan. Here's one major perspective shift that always helps me remember how to relax. Ready?

Give Yourself A Break.

I know, it's revolutionary. But so often when I feel overwhelming stress, it's because I am putting pressure on myself. There are only so many hours in a day and only so much I can do. I am not in charge of the universe, and if things go haywire I am not always able to ensure outcomes.

What I am able to control? My attitude. And so are you.

When stress overwhelms you, ask yourself these questions:

1. Is it life threatening?

Sometimes the best way to shift your perspective is to take a giant step back. Are you stressing out over something that is not that important in the long run? If it is life-threatening, what are the steps you can take to work constructively with the situation.

There is a quote I love by Shantideva:

Why be unhappy about something if it can be remedied? And what is the use of being unhappy about something if it cannot be remedied?

2. Is is permanent, or is there something you can change?

This is sort of a rhetorical question, because everything is impermanent. Some things take longer--perhaps lifetimes--to change. But if we can telescope our perspective out to the most vast view, things can often seem less burdensome.

3. It is real?

Is there really a problem? Or are you creating stress by imagining a result that may or may not happen? Anxiety is a product of this latter way of thinking.

Is it truly a problem if your undesired result comes to fruition? Sometimes we need crises in our lives to force change that might not otherwise occur. Are you resisting a pathway that naturally aligns with your best interests?

4. What are your choices?

Often the simple act of identifying choices can release the sense of inevitability. Because we always have choices. They might not be our first choices. It might be a question of choosing between the lesser of two evils. But knowing we have a choice is empowering.

5. Does it ultimately affect your happiness?

Your state of mind is unrelated to external events. I know it may not always feel this way. But you have the choice about whether or not to get swayed into emotional reactivity or not. Our mind is like the sky, and events (thoughts, emotions, ideas) that arise in the mind are like clouds. The sky is always clear, spacious and accommodating, even if it happens to be covered over by thick clouds. When you can learn to ally with the sky behind the clouds, you begin to experience each cloud as a temporary event. The stress we often feel over life's events usually dissipates just as easily as a cloud in a deep blue sky.

Over to you: share your tips on how to relax! Share your insights in the comments below.

You've heard my thoughts on how to relax, this is something that almost all of us confront on a daily basis. Technology overload can push your stress levels to the max. I struggle with this almost daily! How do we integrate the benefits of global connectivity without losing ourselves in the noise? How do you cope?

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