We all experience stress at one stage or another. This catch-all term is used to describe feelings ranging from mild irritation to the cause of a mental and/or physical breakdown. What 'stress is', is different for different people and what one person may regard as highly stressful will be seen by another as highly motivational. Most of us can deal with a certain amount of stress as part of our everyday life, however living with chronic stress is physically, emotionally and psychologically very damaging.
Symptoms of stress
The physical symptoms of stress are numerous and include headaches, muscle tension, indigestion, frequent colds and infections and a racing heart. Emotionally, we may feel frustrated, angry, depressed, anxious, feel low self-esteem or worry constantly. These feelings of stress often impact on our ability to sleep, to perform at work and affects our personal relationships with family and friends.
What causes stress
The common triggers of stress are being under lots of pressure, facing big change, worrying about something or having too many responsibilities. If you are unsure what causes you stress, it can be helpful to keep a stress diary to identify your own triggers. It is also interesting, to consider the 80/20 rule developed by Pareto and consider this. What are the 20% of your activities that cause you to feel 80% of your stress?
Coping with stress
Once you have identified what causes you stress you can formulate a plan to manage this stress more effectively. Develop your own stress busting program and include the following:
1. Learn breathing techniques. When we’re stressed, our heart beat increases and our breathing shallows, it’s all part of the fight or flight reaction. Work on reversing this process and take time to breathe deeply.
2. Learn self-hypnosis. It's a simple tool which can be learned and is hugely beneficial. It can be done anytime, anywhere, and is a great way to combat stress, re-energise or bring yourself out of a negative mood.
3. Eat a sensible diet. Don't overindulge in caffeine, sugar or alcohol and make sure you include plenty of stress reducing foods in your diet such as green leafy vegetables, avocados, cold water fish and lemon balm tea.
4. Exercise. This is a great way to reduce stress as it burns off the stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline and releases powerful feel good chemicals called endorphins.
5. Adopt a positive mindset. Accept that there are things you cannot change and focus instead on the things that you can control. Try to be positive, look for the things in life for which you're grateful for. A gratitude diary is a great way to notice the positives... simply write down three things every day that you are grateful for.
Hypnotherapy can also help you to identify the causes of your stress and help you work towards your goals.
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About Julie Milton
Julie is a fully qualified hypnotherapist working in her private practice in Salisbury, Wiltshire. Julie provides client centred solutions drawing on a variety of techniques including those from Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and Neuro-Linguistic Programming and specialises in weight loss.