Thoughts about stress
Stress costs the economy billions and it’s not gong anywhere. Stress is increasing and it a major cause of absence from work. When stress isn’t dealt with effectively, it can lead to severe anxiety and depression. If we all took the time to look after our mental health, stress would be greatly reduced. Here are tips to help reduce the effects of stress:
Posture affects our mood – try a simple trick of sticking a pencil between your teeth. This encourages the brain to adopt a happier mood – behaviour sends signals to the brain. Thoughts affect mood but behaviour also affects thoughts and mood. Stand and sit upright with your shoulders back. Adopt a confidence pose for an improved mood.
Interpretation of stress signals
Turn anxiety into excitement by thinking, “I am excited” rather than trying to talk yourself into feeling calm. This tricks the brain into thinking anxiety is excitement – a very effectivebrain tweak!
Watch your expectations
What you expect tends to appear more easily so adopt an appraoch of positive expectancy. What we focus on and think about tends to become a self fulfilling prophecy.
This is an effective stress buster – be in the present moment as much as possible and don’t allow random ‘nonsense’ thoughts about the past or “what if” worrying thoughts about the future. Try the 5-4-3-2-1 technique to stay in the present moment:
5 things you can see around you
4 things you can hear right now
3 things you can touch
2 things you can smell
1 things you can taste.
The more you engage your 5 senses, the less time your brain has to focus on random nonsense thoughts.
Remember-this too shall pass! Change is inevitable. When you’re down at least you can reassure yourself that the only way is up!
Grounding work/self soothing
Use visual imagery to imagine a safe place. Mine is a bench on a long peaceful beach with the sound of the waves crashing. When I think about this place, it can immediately reduce some of the stress I feel. Imagery work can do wonders for stress. Stress is often caused by our thoughts of reality not reality itself.
The ‘false alarm’ from the old brain
When we are faced with an anxiety-inducing situation, our body’s sympathetic nervous system automatically triggers physiological changes. Our breathing quickens, adrenaline is secreted, and our heart begins to race. This natural survival mechanism — called the fight or flight response — is intended to help us to escape a true, life threatening emergency. However, when the threat is imagined (e.g., I’m going to bomb this presentation and everyone will know I’m a fraud), the fight/flight response is unnecessary and very uncomfortable.
Understand that this initial response is the old brain (hypothalamus and amygdala) hijacking your emotional system. Ignore it and tell yourself you are safe and there is no imminent danger.
Positive self talk
I have a few positive affirmations that I use: “No matter what comes my way, I will find a way to cope”. and “I have dealt with difficulties in the past and I can do it again”. These mantras help me to stay focused and not allow the fearful thoughts to grab hold of me.
And of course – the obvious ones. Try as much as possible to eat well – lots of veg and fruit etc, get enough exercise and a good amount of sleep. A lack in any of these areas can stress the body out and lower our defences – physically and emotionally.
Sense of humour
Last one – almost forgot. Don’t take life too seriously. We are all farting about on the planet, the end result is the same for all of us. Try not to get to caught up in the moment and see the funny side of laugh. Humour can act as a great buffer – keeping blood pressure down and allowing us a ‘buffer’ against serious stress. SO the next time you feel uptight. Stop yourself, take a few deep breaths and ask yourself why you are allowing yourself to get so worked up. Read through all of the above and stick that pencil in your teeth! Life is stressful but there are many strategies you can use to protect yourself.