Tiny Steps Towards Reducing Stress

Some days are worse than others. That’s just how it works. You can wake up today feeling refreshed and inspired to put your best foot forward. You can do all of your recommended exercises, eat all the “right” foods, think all the “right” thoughts, and still have pain flare-ups throughout your day. We can never perfectly predict when/if flare-ups occur. All we can control is how we react to them. Do we curl up on the floor and put our lives on hold? Or do we carry on with our day, making allowances for ourselves to cope with the pain? There is an enormous difference between stopping everything to isolate yourself completely and taking just a moment or an hour for yourself.

One particularly powerful way of “recharging” is by immersing yourself completely in an activity or project. You know you have to get outside if you can, you’ve been told this a million times over. And yes, getting outside or entering a new and interesting environment can drastically improve your mood and state of being. It won’t perfectly “solve” your pain, but completely engulfing yourself in a place or activity can sometimes remove you briefly from your experience of pain or offer relaxation. Even if you can’t get outside, you can do guided imagery/meditation sessions to engage your mind as fully as possible with one thing.

The keys to making this work is commitment and starting small. It may feel stupid or silly at first, or even hard to just let your mind drop into a state of meditative focus, but you truly have to “buy into” the idea that you are capable of relaxing and that immersing yourself can really help relax you.

I have a hard time with meditation, even though I’ve been doing it for 50 years.  My mind wanders a lot.  So I start in little tiny spots – 60 seconds or less.  My mom taught me to pretend I was frozen, lying on a beach.  As each wave watched in, I would imagine the sun on my skin, warming and melting me.  First me toes. Then the top of my feet. Then my ankles . . . . Slowly coming up.  A breath or three between each wave and next joint relaxed.

Another meditation I was taught as a kid was standing in an elevator at the top floor of a tall building.  Push the down button and ‘watch’ the lights change and the ‘bell’ ding, breathe out, hold, and breathe in between each ‘floor’.  

If you like apps (try ours!), Calm is often recommended by pain programs as a tool for learning meditation. Both my sons and I really like the Muse headband (this is not a paid endorsement). It actually reads your brainwaves. It has a very nifty app with natural sounds that change in intensity as you relax and get into an alpha brainwave state.

I like it because you can set your time – one to five minutes feels like a long time – and it charts your progress. (Yes, I’m into logging and charts.) When my eldest son uses, the whole house can feel how much calmer he is. It is great for anxiety as well as general stress reduction.

Check out the 1step2life app!

Start where you are. Set your own goals. Take back your life. A tool for tracking goals, emotions, and success, not just logging pain. And the only app that has a mode specifically for parents, partners, and other carers that supports effective coaching and strong relationships.

Download on the App Store
Get it on Google play



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