Stress is the body's way of warning you that you are doing too much or feel unsafe.
When we are stressed we think, feel and behave differently.
Our bodies are flooded with adrenaline and other hormones and so we become more sensitized to pain and stress as our body goes on red alert. We notice potential threats more and in turn we think more worried thoughts. This gets us more stressed...and on and on.
If stress is unchecked our immune and other systems are affected and it can lead to all sorts of physical problems.
1. EXPRESS and ACT, GET SUPPORT
Talk to others about what is worrying you. Also try to say how you really FEEL underneath, eg angry, scared, sad, lonely, overwhelmed.
Closing your eyes and breathing slowly from your tummy can help you to notice what you really feel under the negative thoughts. What do I need? Is there anything I need to SAY to anyone or anything I need to DO differently to feel better. Even a little thing. Do it now!Lift the lid off your stress before it explodes!
Ask someone for a hug or to support you.
2. THE 4 PATTERNS
Pattern 1 - If you are the sort of person to struggle on alone, get support, get a hug. Notice what comforts you. Ask for it, get it for yourself.
Pattern 2 - If you are a perfectionist, let yourself off the hook. Do things just well ENOUGH sometimes. There's a limit to what you can do. Break things down into small stages. Prioritise your work/day. Always under-commit. Leave space in the day or week for the unexpected.
Pattern 3 - If you worry what people think of you, don't want to upset people and avoid potential disagreement, say what YOU need sometimes. It may seem selfish but it's not. You can say "no" in an open and kind way.
Pattern 4 - If when things get too much you avoid situations or want to hide away, reach out to someone to get help BEFORE it all becomes too much to even think about. Take small first steps to do something about it to get you started.
3. STOP AND SEE THINGS DIFFERENTLY
If worries are flying round and round
a) say STOP to them. Out loud is good!
b) Make a CHOICE..to stay stressed or not! Say to yourself or out loud something like "I choose to produce feel-good chemicals in my body".
c) COACH yourself. Say "well done" for noticing that you have a choice and for making a choice.
What could you do right now that would help change your state?
Look at the other stress tips too. Rethink the problem. See that it could be worse. Look at what you HAVE done well rather than badly. Bring in more balance between negative and positive thoughts.
d) CHANGE YOUR STATE. DO any activity that you have decided to do that helps.
e) After the activity say "OK.. am I ready to move on"? (or do I need to repeat things or do something different).
If your worries or feelings are so great it is difficult to do 'STOPS'...although it gets easier the more you do it.
If this is the case use a different stress tip.
4. COMPASSIONATE MIND
Be kind to yourself as much as you can. Accept that you sometimes feel bad and that is normal. "It's really tough sometimes and you've done a good job to get through."
What would a good friend say to you?
List 5 good things about your life/yourself.
5. BE PRESENT TO THIS MOMENT
If we're worrying about the past we're down. If we're worrying about the future we're anxious.
Notice the world around you especially the miracle and beauty of nature. Focus on ONE thing for a while, the leaves in a tree, a candle flame, your breathing or something that is relaxing, you enjoy and takes up your attention. Your mind can have a rest and calm down.
6. CHANGE WHAT YOU'RE DOING
Make a cup of tea! Go for a walk. Take your mind off your worries. Take a break. Change your focus and activity frequently during the day.
7. GET PHYSICAL
Get exercise. It releases feel-good endorphin chemicals and clears out stuck energy.
Imagine a time when you felt really good and feel this in your body. Try and keep the feeling going for at least 16 seconds.
8. EATING AND DRINKING
Don't grab the carbohydrate or sugar to get a quick short term feel-good fix. Eat something else or do something else instead. 5 minutes later you won't feel as hungry. Watch the alcohol. Drink a lot of water. We need it much more than we think for our body (and emotions!) to work.
Do something that makes you laugh that is silly, even if you don't feel like it. Pull a stupid face in the mirror! Silly dancing is good! Do something that is fun. Watch a DVD that makes you laugh. Smile. Do something that YOU enjoy for YOU during the week.
Breathe into your diaphragm. Relax your muscles. Feel your feet on the ground. Slow down. Do this anytime even while you're walking, just for a minute or two during the day and before you go to sleep. If you have longer, listen to some soothing music or a relaxation CD.
When we are in the middle of a worry or crisis we just worry more. We need to shift our focus and get out of that stressed state even though it's often the last thing we think of trying to do. If we manage it we get things in more perspective and see more clearly what to do.
Try shrinking the worry and putting it in an imaginary bottle or if there's a lot of them put them, one by one, on a shelf until later.
I know it's not easy but these stress tips will help.