Three easy ways to stress-proof yourself
Many people recognise that out-of-control stress levels can wreak havoc on our lives and our bodies. What's more, different people will react differently, and some of us get stressed more or less by the same things depending on our personalities and genetic composition.
Even so, we all can control stress and keep it at the level where it is useful without becoming harmful. I find that the following works for me and those who I help:
The usual symptoms of stress are: feeling irritable, wound-up, nervous, anxious or overwhelmed; unable to switch off or enjoy yourself; being tearful or aggressive to others; having problems with eating, sleeping, indigestion, dizziness, and so on. In fact, the list of symptoms can be incredibly long because everyone will have different reactions depending on their individual physical, psychological and genetic characteristics. What we need to recognise here is that all these symptoms usually manifest themselves when stress has taken hold and gone on long enough to produce such profound changes in personality and body...and, accordingly, it will require more effort to remedy this situation.
So, monitor - learn to recognise your earliest signs of stress (feeling stuck or aroused, breathing changes or pulsating sensations in the head/chest) and take action immediately - move around, stretch, close your eyes, take a few deep breaths and breathe out slowly...anything that works for you to get back to your normal state (just like you would watch your pressure-cooker on the hob).
2. Remember Mother-Nature.
Nature has a great anti-stressing effect on us (https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/tips-for-everyday-living/nature-and-mental-health/#.Wv1KZIgvzIU), so let's get closer to it: whether it is gardening, growing your food, going on a nature walk, getting a pet or just a house plant. It all works wonders on one's stress levels.
3. Watch your attitude.
Your brain first decides if the situation is stressful or not. If it thinks it is then all the processes will be activated. With no sabre tigers roaming around humans still get 'fight/flight' responses about things much less lethal. So, when you recognise those early signs, stop and think: 'Do I want to proceed with this task or situation in this way?' The key word here is Enough. Whenever you feel yourself coming close to the red line, think in terms of:
- good enough - 'I am good enough' or 'this is good enough for me.'
- strong enough - 'I am strong enough and I can do this.'
- (This one is for when the task is important and you want to challenge yourself and proceed in a controlled way) one drink is enough - remember alcohol is a chemical stressor.
- enough time - Give yourself enough time, as different tasks will require different times and nothing raises the stress levels as trying to get through traffic in fear of being late.
- enough to be happy with - We all need to know when to stop and take a break from it all.
I hope these three tips are easy enough to overcome the harmful stress, as prevention is better than cure. Where the circumstances are too difficult it's always best to ask for help, of course.
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