Defuse your temper

Walk away from stressful situations with these expert tips

One, two, three… Your blood’s boiling, and counting to ten just isn’t cutting it. But that doesn’t mean that blowing up is your only other recourse. Three yoga instructors offer their tips for walking away from stress and tension and restoring your sense of calm.

When dealing with… difficult people
Whether it’s a hard-to-please friend or a disparaging mother-in-law, sometimes, just the anticipation of stress can cause anxiety, says Lilian Bianchi, a yoga instructor and the owner of Namaste Yoga Studio in Duncan, B.C. Taking a walk every day, preferably at the same time, and finding a quiet spot where you can sit uninterrupted for ten minutes can do wonders for your stress levels. “Concentrate on two of your special qualities,” says Bianchi, “and give yourself credit for two things you have done well.” It won’t be long before your tension eases, and you’re thinking clearly about what to do next. “Remind yourself that people’s strong opinions and judgements often come from their own distorted perceptions,” adds Bianchi “What you think of yourself is more important then how others think of you.”

When dealing with… family squabbles
“Don’t forget, kids feel stress too,” says Susan Dupois, who teaches yoga, meditation and laughter at the Sacred Tree Yoga studio in Brandon, Manitoba; she’s also a mother of two. Crankiness is sometimes a symptom of kids’ tension, explains Dupois – losing your cool will only exacerbate the situation. Instead, “when the fighting escalates, start laughing,” she says. “Even if it’s a fake laugh, don’t stop.” Mom’s crazy behaviour will distract your kids from their argument – and they might even join in. “You don’t even have to deal with whatever they’re bickering about,” she says. The added bonus? “All that extra oxygen caused by laughing will help ease a headache,” lessening your own tension.

When dealing with… work stress
Feeling the pressure? When things get heated at work, there’s a lot at stake. To effectively manage stress, “you must be able to control it,” says Claire Halpern, a yoga instructor and owner of Starfish Yoga in Halifax. Sure, you’re upset, but you also must be professional – not an easy task. Breathing exercises can help you ground yourself when you’re emotional. “Find a place where you can be alone; a bathroom stall will suffice,” says Halpern. Sit with your back straight and gently place your right index and middle finger against your left nostril, and your right thumb against your right nostril. Holding your thumb down, slowly breath in through the left nostril, gently pause, then exhale through your right nostril. Do this five times, then switch hands and repeat. “Visualize something non-material in your life that you cherish, like a loved one, a favourite spot or a good memory,” she says. “Remember how important that is and keep that in your mind when you go back to work.”