Thought I would share this article I wrote for Resonate e-magazine in September – now that I’m allowed to. Copyright 2014 Yossarian Fay 🙂
We all know about stress right? I mean, in this busy, online, interconnected world where there is a ‘need’ to update, up-skill or up our performance daily there is hardly a moment that goes by without stress! I doubt that there is anyone reading this who has not felt the weight of stress on their shoulders at some time or another. If there is someone out there who hasn’t felt stress then….. Can you please, please e-mail and let us all know how you do it!
Stress, a term borrowed from physics, basically describes a force which produces strain on a physical object. Sometime in the 1920’s though, the term stress began to be used within the medical field and became a way of describing a huge range of non-specific issues which caused the human body to function irregularly. The stress itself is a result of the hormones released in our ‘fight or flight’ response to events in our lives which strain us. In short, we ready ourselves for the perceived dangers in the world. Unfortunately for us though, in our modern age these dangers have changed from actual ‘physical’, external dangers to ‘mental’ dangers we perceive internally, more often than not. Stress then perpetuates itself as there is no outside trigger to signal that the threat has gone.
Charles R Swindoll once wrote ‘…..life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it…..” So it is with most of us, emotions and attitude dictate everything. The same applies with stress so I’d like to reword Swindoll to say that ‘Stress is caused by 10% of what actually happens and 90% of how we react’. Our own mental arguments, inner critics and pushers keep us wired. When we have a deadline to meet it is just that a deadline, there is nothing more to it. We can either meet it or not. Our brains however begin to perceive it as so much more, as a possible danger to our sense of well-being or our position in life, and this is when the stress begins to creep in. We feel that if we don’t meet deadlines then we have failed in some way or that others will think badly of us. We create a ‘demon’ out of it by letting it loom over us with all our other tasks and deadlines. In the end the deadline becomes the force which gets the adrenal glands started, the cortisol pumping and then the stress reactions begin to descend.
The thing is that there are different kinds of stress, both good (the stuff that makes us productive and creative) and bad (the one that causes anxiety and illness), and by changing a few things we can begin to convert some of that bad stress into a more positive one. Imagine again our deadline. What if upon feeling the stress kick in we began to break the task down into smaller chunks so that we can see the deadline is manageable? What if we began thinking of all the other times we have succeeded in meeting a deadline and in doing so change our outlook to a more positive one. What if we went for a gentle walk (strenuous exercise can actually cause more cortisol to be released) and let the exercise release some endorphins to counter-act the cortisol? Even thinking of all those times we haven’t met deadlines or completed tasks and the world didn’t collapse will help to put the ‘perceived’ danger into perspective.
Stress will always be there, however it is completely within us to turn that stress into a positive motivator rather than allowing it to build into a destructive force which halts us in our tracks. So at this point I offer you a few simple ideas to change that negative stress into something more positive and in doing so help to create a stress-less life.
Making a plan – Today’s Negotiable Trio (TNT)
This simple tool ‘Today’s Negotiable Trio’ (TNT) will help you to define just three things which you wish to achieve. The idea is to just focus on three things that need doing and feel GREAT when we complete them! These will be your TNT which you need to focus on for the day. To gain a bit of balance maybe choose one which is personal, one which is business related and one which is family related. Of course when the deadlines arise all three can be whatever you need them to be 😉
Creating Energy – Exercise and movement
You knew it was coming, didn’t you! Yes, it is vital for us to move our bodies as part of creating our ‘Stress-Less’ life. Gentle exercise helps us to renew our energy and refresh our minds while the body releases endorphins which are our ‘feel good’ hormones.
Not only will exercise and fresh air help you sleep better, it has also been proven to improve your mood and mindset in life which will help you deal with difficult situations better. Getting out of the environment which is ‘stressing’ you and expending energy will actually beget you more energy while reducing stress.
Clearing the negative – Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT)
Much of the stress we feel is caused by our emotional reaction to what is happening to us or around us. EFT is a great tool which you can use to help lessen that emotional response. EFT works on the principle of tapping acupressure points at the same time as talking. By tapping on the acupuncture points you ‘free’ trapped energy and by talking about the issue at hand you also gain ‘headspace’ through releasing your internal chatter to the world. Science also shows that tapping calms the amygdala. This is the part of the brain which is the body’s ‘alarm’ , signalling when it is time to go into ‘fight or flight’ mode, essentially when it is time to stress out! To learn more about EFT head to Becoming Healthy or EFT Universe for a guide on the Emotional Freedom Technique.
Counting your blessing – Re-enforcing the positives
It is exactly as it says above, when the stress creeps in take some time out to focus on all the positives happening in your life. Focus also on all the successes you have felt in the past along with those times when everything turned out just fine despite a rocky start. In doing this you will be actively changing the way your mind is operating and so when you come back to look at the ‘situation,’ which is causing stress, you will be able to view it more objectively.
Nourishing your body – Eating and drinking well
Just as your car eventually won’t work if you are putting in diesel instead of petrol, your body can’t work with the ‘wrong’ kinds of food in it. Nourishing our bodies with good food so that it can work at its best is important when creating a ‘Stress-Less’ life. When the body is ‘stressed’ from combating the ‘wrong’ kinds of foods for us it begins to come into a state of dis-ease and from there more stress occurs.
In order to create the ‘Stress-Less’ life we are aiming for we need to be listening to our bodies, nourishing it and also giving it time to rest in between meals. How this occurs will be different for everyone. It is so important to take time to really listen to your body and how it reacts with foodstuffs to find the ‘right’ nourishing foods for you. Considering the amounts we eat, the frequency at which we eat and the quality of the food are all important to creating a ‘Stress-Less’ life in our physical bodies.
So there they are; a few ideas for creating your own ‘Stress-Less’ life. A fact of life is that there will always be stress; however how you deal with the stress which occurs is up to you. Try the ideas out, give them ago and use them to help you create a life where you are in control not your emotional response to stress. You create your own realities; changing stress into a positive motivator is a far nicer reality to live with.