Ever have one of those days when your mind is spinning in a loop of stress or worry or anxiety or negative talk? Of course do, we all do.
I’ve tried a bunch of different coping mechanisms over the years:
Do something creative to get my mind into a different mode.
Meditate or do some yoga to try to calm the mind and create a little space between the negative or painful thoughts running into each other.
Indulge (overindulge?) in a food I love.
Drink too much red wine.
Go for a long walk outside.
Watch a marathon of whatever TV series I am into at the moment. Or Thomas Crown Affair, aka the greatest distraction movie made in recent history. (This coping mechanism usually leads to a secondary one: Shopping for something that looks like one of the beautiful outfits Rene Russo wears in the movie. This method is expensive, be warned.)
These all work to some degree, although some come with undesirable side effects. You can figure those out.
But I’ve discovered that there is one way to deal with overwhelming stress, pain, sadness, negative talk, or anxiety that works better than all of the above, combined:
Blast your stress with kindness.
We’ve all read studies that show how doing something kind for someone else helps you feel happier because it increases your levels of serotonin (as well as serotonin levels in the recipient of your kindness act). There is also research that shows that the impact of being kind increases as you do your kind acts in clusters — one every day for a week is better than one every once in a while.
But what if you take this up another notch? What if you became a concentrated-kindness giving machine precisely when you were losing your mind to a loop of stress?
I’ve been doing this for a while now and I can tell you that there is no better way I’ve found to deal with those days when the world seems out to make you want to cry. When I feel that way, I stop whatever I am doing and try to think of as many kind things I can do.
Many are really simple and not world changing:
Text a friend I’ve not talked to for a while and see how she is doing.
Call my mom and ask if she needs anything at the store.
Get something for my daughter for dinner that I know she will really love.
Send a useful or inspiring article to a work colleague.
Hold doors for people wherever I go, let people go ahead of me in traffic, say thank you and actually look at the woman handing me my coffee, pay a genuine compliment to someone I run into during the day.
I literally blast my stress with kindness. Does it all go away? No, usually not. But do I feel a bajillion times more alive, energized and in control of my runaway emotions? For sure.
Try it. Seriously, try it — there are so many super-easy kind things you can do at work, at home, with friends.
Blast your stress with kindness. As a big bonus, you’ll be blasting someone’s world with love.