It’s all pervasive in our society and it’s something that’s affecting more people than ever before, and sadly it’s now affecting a much younger generation.
It’s being driven by money worries, work expectations, heavy workload and FOMO (fear of missing out) or comparison-itis driven by social media, playing into our feelings of ‘I’m not good enough’.
The APS stress and wellbeing survey 2015 found that 35% of Australians reported significant stress in their lives. Not only are the physical/psychological feelings of stress personally hard to bare, but something that we possibly don’t realise most of the time is the effect that our reaction to stressors has on the people around us and our relationships.
To cope with these stressors, we have a human tendency to be drawn to unhealthy remedies like drugs/alcohol/fast food/sugar/shopping/gambling etc. They make us feel better at the time – a nice big dopamine rush, however what they’re really doing is numbing and pushing down the pain. But it’s only a temporary numbness and before long the stressful feelings make a return, but with an unfortunate effect of a hangover or guilt. Over the long term, this can have a negative impact on our health.
The things is, we’re not taught in school how to deal with the feelings of stress in a way that’s healthy for us, and unless we have people in our lives who can teach us this, it’s too easy to fall into bad habits.
Now realistically, stressors are not going away. They’re part of life – delayed trains, cancelled flights, screaming kids, people letting you down, relationship breakdowns, redundancy etc.
However, there are ways that we can reduce stress in a manner that’s healthy for us and has a positive impact on our relationships.
And the best bit (yee ha) about this, is that YOU have the control, you have the super powers to change how you feel when things are not going your way.
My Top 6 tips for reducing our reaction to stressors are:
1. BREATHE –Find a quiet space. Sit on a chair or on a cushion with an elongated spine. Close your eyes. Place one hand on your belly and the other hand on your heart. Begin to take conscious breaths – follow the inhale and follow the exhale. Notice how your breath feels right now. Take 3 nice long breaths.
Now, place your attention on your belly and as you inhale feel the belly expand and you exhale feel the belly contract. Do this a few times. Next take an inhale through your nostrils for the count of 4, hold for 7 counts and then exhale for 8 counts through your mouth. Do this for 4 rounds. Then return to normal breathing and before opening your eyes, check in with how you feel in your body.
If you want to know more, then grab my freebie recording HERE where I take you through some breathing practices.
2. NATURE – Go somewhere green and go for a walk, or a run. Take deep breaths and notice all of the nature around you. Touch leaves or flowers. Take your shoes off and stand in the grass, smell a flower, look at the shapes of the leaves in the trees. Notice the light, and the shadows being cast. Listen to the birds. Arouse your senses. Realise that everything is ok. That life continues and that you are connected to and supported by something so much bigger than you can imagine. Know that just like the seasons, just like the tides and the moon, that everything moves in cycles, and that indeed whatever is bothering you – ‘this too shall pass’.
3. GENERATE EMPATHY – This is perhaps one to the hardest things to do, but it can really help us to feel less alone and more connected. When you’re feeling stressed out, can you turn your attention to knowing that you’re not the only one experiencing these feelings and that in fact there are many other people in the world experiencing far more difficult challenges. Can you feel empathy for others and a connection to this? This can really help you to get out of the cycle of pain for yourself, and shift it to thinking about others.
4. THE ROOT CAUSE OF THE STRESS – the above techniques and practices can help us to alleviate stressful feelings in a natural and healthy way. The thing is that often we feel the effects of stress and blame from whatever triggered it. But really our reaction is related to something far deeper within us that is looking to be healed . By working with a health and wellness coach or life coach you can use the space to really discover what’s going on. Why does one person react in a stressful way to something that another person would take in their stride and not react?
5. GET INTO YOUR BODY – move that tush! It doesn’t matter what you do – walk, dance, play tennis, yoga, run – just do something that moves your body and makes you feel good. When we get into our body, we shake away the negative energy that built up inside and we allow it to drop away. The stress builds up in our head and gets stored in our body – by exercising this is sure way to get out of the thinking mind.
6. MEDITATION – it’s definitely the hot topic at the moment and for good reason. There’s a fair bit of research being done on the benefits of meditation/mindfulness and it’s proving to be a great way to alleviate stress levels, increase immunity, mood and overall happiness. My suggestion is to start small – maybe just 5 mins at the start. Then build from here.
The other thing that I have personally found that’s made a big difference to my commitment is finding a time everyday that I commit to the practice. I do my meditation upon waking before my monkey mind has a chance to talk me out of it! If you’ve never meditated before I’d recommend trying out the headspace app – www.headspace.com You can try out 10 day’s for free!
Well they’re my top 6 tips.
I’d recommend starting small, try one thing for a week and see how that goes for you when the feelings of stress and anxiety bubble up. Then slowly build from there. The beautiful thing is that the best changes take time. Many small things build into some big beautiful shifts over periods of time. Be kind and gentle with yourself along the way and know that what you’re doing is of benefit to yourself, your health and everyone you come into contact with.