OK, so What exactly is stress?
According to the Oxford dictionary stress is defined as” a state of mental or emotional strain or tension result
ing from adverse or demanding circumstances”.
Of all the nasty stuff that chronic stress levels can cause (like immunosuppression, sleep disorders, eating disorders etc) the scariest one for me is having an unexpected heart attack.
The probability of an unexpected heart attack seems to creep up as you get older.
Probably due to a combination of lack of exercise, an increasing workload, and sleep deprivation as you move through parenting and all the responsibilities that come with it.
Over the years I’ve discovered some very useful strategies/insights have proved helpful in weathering the storm of stressful situations. I’ve managed to walk away without too much of an emotional battering.
I suggest you try ’em out … right now.
And if you think it’s worth another shot … do it again tomorrow.
Here are the six strategies:
- Focus on 3 deep breaths: The first thing I do is focus my full attention on taking 3 deep breaths. I find this helps me to disengage from the immediacy of the overwhelming circumstances. There’s also a physiological basis supporting the wisdom of taking deep breaths. Herbert Benson discusses this in detail in his book called The relaxation Revolution
- Contemplate the fact that stress is a human condition rather than my individual problem: It helps to know that there are almost 7,000,000,000 other people that are facing different versions of overwhelming circumstances in their lives. This works particularly well in dealing with the “why me?” syndrome
- Remember that all things must (and will) pass : All situations are transient no matter how large or permanent they may seem in a given moment. I have found this attitude to be particularly helpful and it’s become more effective with practice.
- Recognise that these circumstances arose due to a combination of several factors rather than one person or one preceeding event: Stress seems to be particularly acute when I think in terms of black-and-white or all or nothing. Realising that the overwhelming circumstances did not arise because of one specific person or thing but rather a confluence of several factors helps to get some distance and bring some objectivity to the situation. (Probably because it helps me to acknowledge that it’s going to take a multiple factors to undo the situation and/or move past it)
- Write down an action plan : Whilst this does not solve the problem immediately it gets it out of my head and onto a piece of paper or a computer screen which is enormously helpful. Writing down an action plan gives my reptilian brain the message that some can be done about the situation (no matter how small) and helps to shift from an attitude of helplessness to “Yes I can”.
- Revisit the action plan after a break: Having written up the action plan I walk away from the situation and focus on something completely different. Doing this often means that when I come back to the problem and review what I have written I can approach the situation with a fresh mind and 9 times out of 10 I can move forward with a sense of agency and purpose
What strategies have worked for you?
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