Tame Your Stress Monster
Wouldn't it be great if we were relaxed and calm all of the time? No hassles, arguments or rushing to complete work for deadlines. No inwardly screaming on yet another Zoom call at a colleague's inability to do what they are in fact paid to do.
Ahhh - bliss!
The problem is - we all have a stress response which kicks in when our pesky amygdala perceives a threat - often that threat is an emotional one rather than a physical one. To get the full picture of why we get stressed have a read of last week's blog.
If you are fully up to speed on when and why your stress response monster hits then read on to learn how you can begin to get it back under control.
I'm not promising that you will be feeling beyond zen 100% of the time but you will definitely experience a more rational approach to issues, respond in a more measured way and hopefully, improve your overall health along the way.
The Ugly Side of Stress
That's right folks - the negative effects of stress on our bodies don't make for happy reading as it is now believed that ongoing stress or chronic stress leads to:
High blood pressure
Poor sleep (which in turn increases the risk of more illnesses such as dementia)
Weight gain (again even more problems such as increased risk of diabetes)
Even though we are well aware of the debilitating impact distress has on our health - both physical & emotional, we are pretty poor at controlling how we handle that stress response when it hits us.
Of course, as with everything, we need to have a bit of stress in moderation to drive us - that's the good stuff - 'eustress' which motivates us to get up and get going, to get s**t done and face challenges when we need to.
This pressure can really help us achieve our aims, fulfil our potential and excel where we once thought we couldn't even start. Find out even more here about this and how to harness it here.
But what happens when the eustress turns into nasty distress and the monster of stress rears it's ugly head?
More often than not it needs placating and reassured that the situation we are in is not so awful, that we will find a solution and come out the other side.
Start with some simple breathing exercises such as 4,6,8 Breathing:
Inhale through your nose for 4 counts
Hold that breath for 6 counts
Exhale through your mouth for 11 counts
Repeat at least 3 times - preferably until you feel calm and collected.
Sure just the simple act of breathing won't control your stress monster? It does, by doing it this way as you mimic what your body automatically does when it kicks into 'calm down mode'. When you start your 4,6,8 Breathing your body and brain will both react accordingly and calm you down quicker.
This breathing exercise can literally be done anywhere in any situation as you are simply breathing, however, if you are really wanting to tackle that stress monster in submission, try a non-meditation meditation.
Despite being a huge proponent of emotional wellbeing I really struggle to meditate (yes I have tried the classes, the aps, the courses, incense - my monkey brain is a beast!) However, with this technique, I did manage to switch off the circling thoughts that plague me when I am really feeling and responding with stress.
Find a quiet & safe place to sit where you will not be disturbed - you need about 10 - 15 mins for this so make sure you have some privacy.
Have a seat, get comfortable and gently close your eyes, take a few deep breaths to feel at ease (I know this may seem like meditation - promise you it is not - well not really)
Open your eyes and find an object to examine it and silently describe everything about it to yourself; it's purpose, what it's made of, the colour, the temperature and texture of it if you were to hold it. Describe it in such detail that you exhaust all description options.
Close your eyes again and listen for a sound to scrutinise in the same way; how loud it is, the pitch, how melodious it is - just focus on the sound - not what is creating it.
Next, take a sip of a drink or a bite of food and describe that in utmost detail; the taste, mouth fee, temperature - again every part of it as you slowly swallow or chew.
Finally, come to stillness, take a few deep breaths and open your eyes.
So what's the deal here? You are technically tricking your mind into switching off - or at least switching off from the stress response you are fixating on as you fixate your brain on something completely different.
By doing so you tap back into your pre-frontal cortex so that you can rationally think through and plan what to do.
To learn even more techniques to help with in the moment stress get in touch today.
Planning It Out
Sometimes the planning part can also lead to a stress response so why not try Best Case, Worst Case and Most Likely Case scenario tool to consider the ramifications of your proposed solutions?
Take each of our solution options and run through the worst case scenario of each of them - what is the very worst that can happen if you were to go with this solution?
Now flip that and consider what is the best that could happen with each solution. And finally, what will be the most likely result for each one.
Go into details here to get the full picture and consider timelines so you can plan thoroughly. Chances are that the outcome you end up with will be an amalgamation of all of them as you have enabled your rational thought process to really kick in and help you.
If you’re struggling to keep your stress monster under control, I’d be delighted to help. Get in touch with me for a completely obligation-free friendly chat about your stress challenges and I’ll be glad to talk things through with you.
Use the Let’s Talk page to contact me or schedule a completely free half-hour chat about you and how stress and resilience coaching can help you work better and be happier. I can’t wait to hear from you and get started helping you destress from distress.