That feeling of nervousness, palpitations and unease are all possible signs that you could be stressed. These symptoms can be unsettling especially when you're not sure why you would be stressed.
These feelings are very common and can arise from the everyday stress lives most of us lead. Stress can come from our job, our marriage, our relationships, financial crisis, or even health issues.
The good news? Stress is manageable and understanding what stress is will be a good place to start.
In daily life we often use the term “stress” to mean negative situations and so most people believe that all stress is bad, when in fact a certain amount of stress isn’t always a bad thing.
Eustress is the term for positive stress and
Distress is the term for unhealthy stress.
Is a positive motivator.
During exercise, our bodies undergo stress - we rest and rebalance.
Helps us to focus.
Feels exciting - i.e. when we’re actively engaged in sport or falling in love!
Is short-term and something we feel able to cope with.
Improves and enhances our performance – i.e. public speaking.
It interferes with our critical thinking and decreases performance.
When distressed we feel anxious and concerned.
Unable to cope or manage with the situation we’re facing.
Can lead to ill health and mental problems.
Distress can be either short-term or long-term.
Long-term Stress Needs to Be Addressed.
Long-term stress can cause a myriad of health and emotional issues and needs to be addressed and if this is you, you'll probably be aware of that already.
Our bodies are not designed to be under the influence of cortisol, which is released in response to stress therefore, it’s imperative that we learn how to reduce stress and how to combat its impact.
Here are three simple yet effective ways to manage 'Dis-stress':
1. Identifying the Culprit
Some people don’t really know what’s causing them stress. They just know they feel stressed out. Keeping a stress diary can be a big help in pinpointing precisely what your stressors are.
This can help you differentiate between the external stressors and the internal stressors in your life. Often we stress ourselves out with our own patterns of thinking.
Identifying which things in your life are stressing you is the first step toward determining how to combat it. For example, if your stress diary reveals that your daily commute is a stressor for you, then consider some ways to reduce that stress.
Maybe you can seek out an alternate route to work. If you're not driving, perhaps you can use the time by reading something uplifting or relaxation audio.
Would carpooling be a possible option for you?
2. Relaxation is the Antidote for Stress
a) Deep breathing is a tremendous aid in relaxation, especially when your out-breath is longer than the in-breath. Once you learn how to breathe deeply, it's a simple technique to employ whenever you feel stressed or anxious.
b) Muscle relaxation is another technique you can use to relieve stress. It doesn't take much for tension to build up in your muscles especially if you sit at a desk all day.
You may find that listening to and following a recorded relaxation technique that talks you through tensing and relaxing your muscles will help you the most.
c) Other relaxation techniques, including yoga, Tai Chi, visualization, meditation, and massage. My favorite, self-hypnosis is great at helping you find more positive thought patterns that will help reduce your stress levels.
Being able to relax is a skill. Contrary to popular belief, it is not something that comes naturally to a lot of people and it may take some time to learn, but it is time well spent.
When the body has suffered from either short-term or long-term stress, relaxation helps to repair the body.
3. Awareness of Negative Patterns of Thinking
If your stress is coming from your own patterns of thinking, then you can investigate ways to change them. Some people appear to have a “glass half empty” bias on life while others have a “glass half full” approach. Which one are you?
It takes concerted effort to change negative patterns of thinking, but it’s essential if you’re committed to managing stress. For one thing you must be aware of your dominant thoughts. Notice whether you say things such as, “I can’t,” or “Things never work out for me,” or “I’m always messing up,” and so on, and question the validity of these statements.
Also, be aware of when your thoughts are sad or focused upon what you are lacking. Thoughts of a similar nature tend to string together, and it doesn’t take long before these negative thoughts induce stress.
Negative thinking robs you of your happiness and makes life feel like a struggle. People who have a negative bias will notice more unwanted events occurring and often feel as though life has dealt them a bad hand.
To help make positive changes to negative patterns of thinking, one tool that I personally found useful was writing some soothing statements and reading them regularly. I would pin them on the wall, on the fridge, in the car and put little notes in my pocket.
Here are 3 such phrases to use:
“I prefer feeling calm - I choose to feel calm.”
“I am where I am, and I now choose better feeling thoughts.”
“I like the
feeling of ease in my mind.”
When it comes to the best methods to manage stress, there isn’t a one-size fits all approach and neither is there one specific method.
A combination of ‘tools’ works best and today we’ve just touched on three such methods. We’ll explore other approaches in future posts. Until then I trust that these 3 methods have proved useful.
Do you have any favourite tips to share on how you manage stress? Please comment or pop your questions below.