5 ways to combat stress and keep your cool


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It’s Monday morning, you’ve spilled your coffee, Post-it Notes litter your desk, and you’re late for a meeting. Welcome to the week and your daily dose of stress.

Now if your standard coping strategy is to run screaming, arms flailing through the halls of your office, stop right now — because there are healthy ways to handle stressful situations. Counselor and yoga instructor Melissa Scott, of Birmingham, Ala., has five tips to help you calm down and deal with anything (or anyone) that disrupts your peace.

1. “Take a step back,” Scott says. “Notice what you’re thinking, what you’re feeling and how you feel in your body in that moment. Ask yourself, “If I was going to act like the best version of myself, what would I do next in this situation?” This simple question helps reconnect us with our more authentic self, the part of us that makes the most rational decisions for ourselves and for others.”

2. Notice what triggered the stressful reaction. “We all have negative, fear-based beliefs that stress us out,” Scott says. “Some examples might be ‘I’m not good enough,’ or ‘I need to control other people’s behavior,’ or ‘It’s other people’s job to make me happy.’ ”

3. Turn off the adrenaline-fueled response. Do some easy stretches to quiet the mind. Try yoga positions such as Savasana (resting pose) or simply lie on the ground with your legs propped up against the wall. “Close your eyes, and focus on slowing down your breath. This will send the message to your mind and body that everything is OK,” Scott says.

4. Do something creative. Try writing, drawing or painting, or put on some music and dance. This will help you express anger, frustration or stress. “Any activity that helps you ‘get it out’ — rather than having it stuck in your head — is great,” Scott says.

5. Finally, just breathe. “Breathing deeply calms the whole body and the nervous system,” she says. “It also gives us more energy and mental clarity to respond to these situations in a healthy way.”