Use Stress Reduction Goal Setting to lower stress levels

If you’re looking around for things that might help with stress... 

Stress reduction goal setting might be a good fit for you...

Stress! Blimin horrendous crippling stress. Even when it’s mild... stress can be awful. When you’re working through mental health challenges, stress can often be a large part of it.

On the one hand nothing works. By that I mean nothing cures it over night. Some might say it’s mind over matter. What a load of rubbish!

On the other hand, many many things can help. Or can make the stress a little better. And many little things over time... may just make stress less of a problem generally.

People usually think of goal setting as meaning striving intensely but this is simply not true.

Goal setting is more about a shift in focus in an area of your choosing.

5 stress reduction goals you could try

Have a look at the 5 things below. Do any of these look good to you? Would you be up for trying one of these? If you’re not in the mood right now, you could print the list and have a look later. These are my main five areas that I focus on.

1. Slow down – Consciously do things slowly 

Walk to the shop, get dressed, do something that you do often. But do it in slow motion. It’ll feel really strange at first but when did not rushing become strange?

If you’re walking feel each step, your shoe on the ground, if you’re getting dressed really try and take your time. Tell yourself “I have all the time in the world”.

Be aware of your breathing. Breathe deeply, naturally. When was the last time you could hear your heart beating? When was the last time you weren’t in a big rush?

Stress reduction goal setting idea 1: Consciously do 3 things slowly today

2. Sight. Smell. Sound

When you find yourself aware that stress is high try this little activity. Sight. Smell. Sound. The 3 S's.

Stop/slow down for a moment. Choose something you can see. Stop and really look at it. What do you notice? Some detail? How it moves? Spend 30 seconds being connected to this sight.

Then, what can you smell? Maybe your hands smell of something? Or there is something around you could go and smell. Smell it in. Describe it.

Sounds. Is there a sound you can hear? You probably weren’t even aware of it before you tried to hear it. What is it? How far away is it? What would it sound like if you were right next to it.

The idea of this activity is to reconnect you with the world around you.

Stress reduction goal setting idea 2: Try and do the “sight. smell. sound” activity 3 times today

3. Grounding

This is a classic one and there are many versions. Sometimes it’s called “7 in 11 out”. I’m not a fan of the counting.

Once again the idea is to stop for a moment. Stay still. It’s amazing how rare it can be to just stay completely still for 30 seconds!

Look at some easy-to-focus-on point with your eyes. Breathe deeply in. You can count if you like to 7 or 5 or like I do just say “short innnnnnnnnn…” in your head.

Then breathe out for longer than you breathed in. I say to myself "long ooooooooooooooooooooooouttttt”. This will ground you (hopefully) and you’ll get better at doing it successfully over time.

Stress reduction goal setting idea 3: Aim to do this 3 times today  

4. Treat ya self!  

Maybe one of your favourite tv shows or one you haven’t seen in ages that you loved. Or a movie?

Maybe a coffee with cream and chocolate is your thing? Bath and incense and candles?

Is there somewhere with a nice view, somewhere peaceful?

What it is doesn’t really matter. The point is YOU decide, to treat YO self, in a way YOU want! That process can be healing and help a bit with stress.

Stress reduction goal setting idea 4: Give yourself a big treat 3 times this week

5. Nature

There is something very special about nature. About parks. About the pace and balance of natural surroundings.

When you sit in nature and just stop and watch. When you put your phone away. The pace of nature gets under your skin, you find yourself breathing more deeply.

It’s a beautiful experience. Let your life connect with the environment around you. Even if just for a minute or two. The key is to stop, the “go, go, go!” in you and just be still and soak up the life around you.

One time, I sat down for 30 minutes and watched a tree and my stress fell away (for a while). A leaf was falling every 10 seconds. The dance of the wind and the tree. Just stopping and noticing whatever I noticed was a relaxing experience. I do some version of this often now.

Stress reduction goal setting idea 5: Once this week, spend 10 mins in nature, and just watch and notice with no distractions  

The key to stress reduction goal setting working well

With all these example goals, always feel free to change the how often and the how long to suit you. Complete flexibility here.

Be kind to yourself. There is no right and wrong answer. The only right answer is you finding one that sings for you. One that feels right for you.

The last thing you want to do is cause yourself more stress if you’re going through stress already!

For more great ideas for reducing stress check out this article which is about self-care but is full of good ideas

Have you got a way of reducing stress that works well? Leave a comment below...

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