24 Jul 2018

Managing stress: Part 3: Toolkit

If you’ve been following the series, then you’ll know exactly what stress is. Perhaps you already did know, and appreciate that by understanding your experience, you can effectively side-line stress. For anyone needing a little stress-relief, here is an effective toolkit you can use whenever the need arises.

If you want to work on freeing yourself from unnecessary stress then consider arming yourself with the following strategies.

 

Just breathe.

You’ve heard the cliché about taking a few deep breaths? Well there is actually a very valid reason for it.

Breathing deeply helps to reset your nervous system. The release of stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline are promoted by the sympathetic nervous system.

By taking just a few deep breaths, you essentially employ the more congenial (and more attractive) sibling of the sympathetic nervous system… the parasympathetic nervous system.  Let’s call them Para for short.

Para douses the excessive cortisol and adrenaline and sends a message to your brain.

“Hey, it’s cool. I’ve got this under control”

Practicing deep breathing daily can reduce your cortisol and adrenaline levels long-term, promoting an even greater sense of wellbeing.

 

Get the blood pumping!

Everyone knows what exercise does for your physical health. Now there is science to show what it does for your mind too. Once you finish exercising, Para gathers their feel-good hormone friends for a big party.

Endorphins, serotonin, and dopamine are all released during, and post exercise and enjoy making an appearance at the feel-good party.

Now, that’s not to say that all your troubles are fixed just by exercising. Without something for your mind, you only get some of the benefits. As mentioned in Part 2 of this series, over-time excessive stress has physical effects on the mind too.

With that in mind …

 

Have a dump, of data that is.

Mind whirring around with worry? Life, money, partners, and work, mean that for many of us there is a fine balance to maintain. Sometimes all the worry hits us at once, when that happens … it’s time to “have a dump”

A simple, yet effective way to create some space and relieve that sense of never-endingness (yes, not a real word I know) that comes from being a modern human, is to grab some paper and start writing.

Write down each and every worry that comes to mind.

Once you have done that you can look at the list (objectively) and break it down into priorities. Is it something that needs to be addressed? Can you address it? Can you leave it for another day? Is it even really a problem?

Identify the top 5 priorities to work on. Then tear the list up and throw it in the bin.

 

Change the way you think about situations.

It sounds easy enough, and very soon it becomes easy.

During your day are you feeding the black dog (negativity, distrust, hurt), or the white dog (positivity, acceptance, freedom)?

If, like me, you find that you have been quick to over-react in the past (or even now at times), then this is a skill you’ll benefit from. Try asking yourself:

                      “Is that person really out to get me?”  OR “Have I misinterpreted their intention?”

                      “Why did I respond like that?”  Or perhaps “What has made me come to that conclusion?”

The answer you get may surprise you. However, if you didn’t find the answer you were looking for then…

Show some gratitude.

Each day, write down three things you are grateful for. It could be anything, it doesn’t have to be profound.

Choose which dog you nature: because when you feed the white dog, the layers of troubles in your life wash away and your mind is free to focus on more valuable things.

 

Meditate on it.

Meditation has been embraced by many cultures around the world for centuries (even millennia in some instances).

What meditation allows you to do is press the pause button on life. It doesn’t have to be a spiritual experience, it can simply be a way of observing yourself and getting some clarification on what is troubling you.

Often, the stillness that meditation creates leads to clarity on a situation and gives perspective. From there you can make the best decision as to whether you need to continue with a plan to address that concern. Or,  you can simply allow it to lessen as your focus shifts to something more important.

There is no wrong way to meditate. To get the most out of it, the best thing to do is find some guidance.

If you like to explore on your own there are some great apps out there. One of my favourites is Insight Timer *. There is a broad range of content to explore to suit your mood. There are also countless books, and in most towns and cities there is meditation groups to train you in meditation.

 

Thank you if you have taken the time to read this through, I hope you have found something of value to you.

The beauty of the toolkit is that it contains skills (or habits which you can form) that only get easier over time! Of course, not every option is suitable for every person, so it’s best to try a few and see what works for you.  Share the knowledge and kindness with someone you care about so you can make their world a little better.

Namaste!

 

*Please note I have not received any payment for any recommendation of services or products and these are my genuine recommendations.

 

 

Stephen Hale-Worrall. Principal coach and founder of Strength Being.

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