Simple Ways To Lower Your Stress In Real Time

1.      Use Bi-Lateral Stimulation (BLS) like in Dharma Dr. to lower stress immediately. This works via according to Salience Network Theory (Serin, 2024, in press) because your sensory network is what actually controls your Stress Switch. This is the most economical, fastest way I’ve found to lower stress profoundly and quickly. Use this as a first step in reducing stress instead of trying to breathe or change your thoughts. Once your stress is moderate to low, then try deep breathing and changing your thinking. You can access a list of ways to change your thinking in The Stress Switch chapter on Cognitive Distortions.

2.      Move your eyes side to side multiple times. Considered another form of BLS, this can create brain changes that help you ‘process’ negative thinking and stress triggers. This is great before bedtime if you can’t get pesky thoughts to stop running through your mind or your to-do list keeps repeating as you’re tossing and turning.  Remember, your body wants to sleep. You just need to get your Stress Switch low enough to be in the right state to allow sleep to happen. Note: Don’t try eye movements if you have active PTSD or dissociate due to trauma. Only do eye movements if you’re in the presence of a trained therapist.

3.      Get up and move. Go outside if possible, change positions, kick up your legs in the back of your body alternating and touch each foot as it rises if you can. Remember your sensory network controls your stress better than your conscious thinking brain can. So methods that change your body’s sensory experience are going to help you more than trying to use thoughts if you’re extremely stressed.

4.      Breathe. Sure you’ve heard this a million times but here’s the caveat. If you try to deep breathe and your breath feels “stuck” or you are breathing more shallowly than you want to, that’s a sign you are too stressed out to access this. Don’t worry, your body is “breathing you” and this doesn’t mean you have a medical condition if it’s just the result of stress. Use tactic 1 above on the right frequency and your breathing will likely return to normal in less than one minute. Once your stress lowers to a moderate level, you’ll be able to breathe deeper and further the process.

5.      OK now here’s what NOT to do. Don’t engage with anyone when you’re really stressed. Take a pause. If you write an email or text when you are stressed, don’t send it. Trying to be productive, engaged, or attempting to problem solve when you’re in a state of stress may cause further problems. Pause, do something else, then come back to it. If you are with someone, disengage and have a conversation once you’re calm and if you get re-triggered, disengage again.

For more tips and tricks, take a look at the Stress Switch. It’s time to use the real science of stress to your advantage!