Stress is a step everyone has to cross before they can truly enjoy living in the moment. To do this, you have to mentally and physically train and challenge yourself to conquer your own thoughts. Once you do this, you can feel inspired and ready to take action, get things done and feel good about yourself. Otherwise, stress will remain the barrier that prevents you from acting upon your incentives, dragging you down. So how can you identify stressful moments and overcome them in your daily life? Here’s how:
Stress, Beneficial or Harmful?
Stress is beneficial when it comes to survival instincts. Stress allows you to focus your attention on drastic measures and decide what is best in tight situations. Fortunately, in a civilised, industrialised world, you don’t encounter many Woolly Mammoth survival movements, so instead of focusing on your physical decisions regarding survival, stress now focuses on your mental decisions.
Stress, The Physical Effect
Your body functions on two nervous systems, sympathetic and parasympathetic. When quick action is required, your sympathetic nervous system initiates your adrenaline and cortisol hormones, so your reflexes quicken. Stress is activated as you focus your attention on the intensity of the situation and how you are going to get out of it (popularly known as ‘fight or flight’). This is a time when you will find stress helpful.
During times of stress, the parasympathetic nervous system is also affected, which is responsible for growth, repair, reproduction and immunity. These non-essential aspects are constrained in the event of stress, which is why long-term stress causes problems with digestion, on-going health issues and low sex drive.
Now you can see how stress heightens your responsiveness and effectiveness in the short term – which can be useful for occasional important events – but over the long term it wears you down and affects your health and quality of life. This is why we need to understand it, recognise it and manage it effectively because the reality is: Life is full of stressful moments that we must manage.
So stress can heighten your responsiveness in the short term but will slow you down and negatively affect your health in the long run. To prevent this, it is important to be able to identify and manage your thoughts.
Stress- Find It, Stop It and Thrive
Luckily for you, there are ways to spot those unwanted build-ups of stress in your day to day life and ways to defend yourself from them. It just takes a keen eye and a little attention.
Some of the recurring signs you may experience are listed below:
The Physical Symptoms
- Rising pulse rates
- Short, shallow breathing
- Tense muscles
- Pressure in chest
- Digestion issues
- Easily distracted or difficulty concentrating
- Anxiety and constant worrying
- Extensive periods of sadness and gloomy thoughts
- Easily triggered anger
- Pessimistic point of view
- Losing interest in past activities
- Lack of enthusiasm
- False sense of constant isolation
- Withheld emotions and expressions
- Extensive usage of additives
- A sense of constant loss
Many of these symptoms are very similar to those of anxiety and depression, and can lead to mental health issues.
Stress – Can You Act Against It, Or Do You Accept It?
Once you come to realise that you are under intensive stress, it becomes essential to figure out what situations trigger that stress. Some situations can be minimised or eliminated, while others are inevitable. Distinguishing between the two is the next step in the process.
Bad television reception, annoying children, horrible service at the coffee shop… all of these things are out of your hand, so don’t let them get to you – Don’t sweat the small stuff, as the saying goes. Take the initiative to change things in your control, such as replacing mainstream news apps with the Good News Network app, and playing uplifting music while stuck in traffic.
Your own behaviours or the way your house operates are things you can control. Focus your attention on fixing these contributing factors of stress. You’ll feel much better and confident knowing that you are reducing negative and limiting thoughts. Your mood will also improve as you learn to accept that some things are the way they are.
Stress, The Best Ways To Overthrow It
Let’s start with a logical solution. Stress tends to slow you and your day down, making it painfully stagnant. To counter this, liven up your day with exercise. Physical benefits or not, you are guaranteed a mental recovery. Your body is happiest when it is moving, as it is releasing your natural ‘feel good’ chemicals.
Next comes the obvious. Your mind is completely cluttered with thoughts of the busy day that happened, is happening and is going to happen. You need to slow down your train of thought and relax. It is often easier said than done.
First, make some time for yourself to concentrate on nothing. It sounds counterintuitive, but that is exactly what you need to do – clear your mind of everything. Your thoughts might attempt to jump you continuously, but try focusing on the background noises or your steady breathing. You don’t have to stretch it to an hour of meditation because admittedly, that is just unrealistic. Busy people need their brain back. Just try 5 minutes, ideally in an environment that comforts you. This may be a challenge to find at your workplace, so consider incorporating with a walk to a nearby park or quiet space. Those few minutes will benefit your entire day.
Here are a list of scientific research studies that have been done on Meditation for Stress and Anxiety.
Resilience and Finding Your Positive Mindset
There are many things you can do to take advantage of everyday moments, where we can seize an opportunity to not only keep the blues at bay, but maintain a positive mindset.
Laugh a Little
Laughter truly is a natural ointment for all sicknesses. When you feel the day you had was truly down in the dust, find a way to cheer yourself up. Meet up with your closest friends and watch an uplifting or funny movie. Go see some stand-up comedy or just laugh out loud for 5 minutes (research shows that fake laughter is just as good as the real thing). Laughter releases good hormones that elevate your mood. Click here for more information about our Workplace Laughter Yoga Workshops to boost office morale and team bonding.
It is easy to overlook things in life that go well. Good moments and accomplishments in the day are often forgotten, so remember to embrace the feeling and rejoice the success. Good things happen all the time- start to acknowledge them, and learn how to be thankful for them. At dinner time, it’s a great opportunity to share the successes of the day. If there were some challenges, share how you overcame the challenge. If you are feeling sadness or sorrow, it’s also important to share and acknowledge these feelings.
Wake up feeling grateful for a new day, and form an intention for how you’d like your day to be. At the end of the day, reflect on the good parts of your day, and what you are grateful for. It can and will aid your and physical health (for starters, you’ll sleep better). If you feel that you need some guidance to help change your perspective or just someone to talk to, to share your feelings, then consider a psychologist or other qualified health practitioner/therapist.
A diary is like a personal therapist, always ready to listen to your day. Record everything you do to view your ups and downs from an onlooker’s perspective. You will be able to recognise your achievements and flaws, fixing and establishing yourself as a better person than yesterday. All of your inner built-up emotions can be expressed on paper, relieving you of restrained thoughts and cooped up secrets. You can organise your problems and clear out your mind when you use a diary to track your life.
Finding inspiration can be tricky in today’s society so you may have to hunt for it. Find inspiring people in the world, and subscribe to their podcasts. Create a vision board and set some goals for yourself that you would like to achieve over the next year. Make the most of your free time by interacting with those who can achieve the unachievable. Tag along whenever you have the opportunity. Keep up to date with inspiring figures in the world, and take advice from positive and inspiring people around you. Keep yourself running towards a target that allows you to get excited.
In the end, stress is a part of life you cannot avoid. Accepting the fact that it is coming and must be faced head-on, will enable you to achieve what stress withholds from you. Think positively and handle every day with a smile for what is coming. Don’t let gloomy thoughts stop you from leading a healthy life and live each day you have to the fullest. The present is called a gift for a reason.
Timo Topp is one of HSG’s leading Healthy Lifestyle Workshop facilitators. Contact us now to bring Timo into your organisation, and empower your staff by showing them how to find their path to optimal wellbeing.
Click here for more information about HSG’s Stress Management, Resilience, and Positive Psychology Workshops, and how we can empower your staff to manage stress with practical tools & techniques.