• Health

3 quick ways to beat stress

This is a post from a member of the Freelancers Union community. If you’re interested in sharing your expertise, your story, or some advice you think will help a fellow freelancer out, feel free to send your blog post to us here.

Do you sometimes get those days, where your to-do list feels like a ball and chain, getting bigger every day. Drowning in deadlines and projects. Suffocating in a sea of chores, client requests, proposals.

It all. Feels. Too. Much.

You snap at colleagues and loved ones. Leave housekeys in the fridge. And almond milk on the tray by the door.

And you’re not actually getting anything done because of the heart-aching panic and paralyzing nerves.

Fear not, help is at hand. I’m sharing with you three things you can do to feel better in minutes (without punching pillows).

Give yourself a few minutes so you can think clearly and effectively, and get stuff done.

What are you grateful for?

(2 minute exercise)

Step away from your computer, your laptop, grab a pen and paper (not your phone or laptop).

Set your phone in airplane mode, then set the countdown timer for two minutes.

For the next two minutes make a list of things you’re grateful for.
Don’t stop writing for two minutes.

Here’s mine:

  • I am grateful for the world-wide internets, allowing me to you send this message this minute
  • I am grateful you’re reading this article
  • I am eternally grateful you’ve invited me into your life
  • I am deeply grateful for my perfect health and my wife’s perfect health
  • I am so grateful our cat Whiskey’s eye is better (she had conjunctivitis–it was scary because our last cat died after eye trouble!)
  • I’m so grateful for the beautiful trees outside the window.

Listen to the sounds around you

(1 minute exercise)

Stress and overwhelm are incredibly disempowering emotions. They over-activate your amygdala, your brain’s fear center, causing you to react, be impulsive, and not particularly productive. An overactive fear center literally shuts down your pre-frontal cortex, the part of your brain associated with prioritising, decision-making, creativity, self-control.

To calm your fear center, set your phone timer for one minute. 
For the next minute, listen to all the sounds you can hear around you.


  • Birds tweeting
  • Whiskey snoring (I know!! Snoring cats are unbelievably cute)
  • Whiskey’s water fountain
  • Cars shzooming by
  • Pipe’s making whooshing noise
  • Fridge humming

There. This simple exercise takes you out of your head, bringing you into the present moment.

You can’t think and listen at the same time. Forcing your mind to listen, directing your attention, steers you away from the thoughts causing you stress, giving you a mindful moment.

Send thoughts of loving kindness to three people

(3 minute exercise)

The primary cause of suffering is thinking about yourself. When the negative thoughts are on a roll, it’s extremely difficult to stop them. It’s far easier to replace those thoughts with other thoughts. When you think loving kindness, you can’t think of the things causing you stress.
Here’s how it works.
 Start with you. Yes, you. You can’t give what you don’t have, so fill yourself up, first.

Repeat to yourself these words, feeling the words sink in–just saying them without feeling won’t work:

I wish myself peace and happiness

I wish myself love and kindness

May I be free from mental suffering

May I be free from physical suffering

May I be free from bitterness or anger

May I take good care of myself

In case you were wondering, self-love and kindness does not make you a narcissist. Those people are selfish. As a Freelancers Union reader, I’m certain you care about others and have the tendency to place others before you. So chill and give yourself one minute of loving kindness.

Next, after flooding yourself with love and kindness, think of one person, a loved one, a colleague, the person sitting opposite you on the tube, anyone, and send them thoughts of love and kindness for between 30 seconds to one minute:

Sending her love and kindness

Sending her happy thoughts

Wishing her a warm and happy day

May she be free from mental suffering

May she be free from physical suffering

May she be free from bitterness or anger

May she receive all that she wishes

May her family and loved ones be well

Then pick one more person and do the same for them.

Your turn

Pick one from these three ways and do it right now. Give yourself this time. You deserve it.

Sending you loving kindness and wishing you a day free from mental suffering.

Anis Qizilbash is founder of Mindful Sales Training and author of Mindful Selling: Seven principles to banish stress and boldly grow your impact, your way. Grab her free guide: How to close a sale without being pushy.

Anis Qizilbash Anis Qizilbash, London-based founder of Mindful Sales Training, author of: Grow Your Sales, Do What You Love: mindful selling for entrepreneurs and freelancers.

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