Help Managing Stress
Stress is a battle between input and output” – Dr Bo Mills. Essentially, when there is an imbalance between these two we start to feel stress, and the more the imbalance grows the more of a problem our stress becomes.
We all need some stress in our lives. Its what gets us out of bed in the morning. Enough stress is what gives us direction and motivation to keep growing and moving forward. Without the imperatives of life we would be without direction or purpose and that in itself is a terribly stressful place to be. Too little stress and too much are both damaging.
The impact of too much stress is not just psychological. Headaches, high blood pressure, risk of stroke are all linked to excessive stress. Sometimes we compound the problem by “self-medicating” through reliance on alcohol, drugs, overeating, smoking or destructive anger. None of these activities will really relieve the impact of stress, but they will quickly make a bad situation worse. They also don’t get to the heart of the problem which is required in order to make a sustainable change.
What causes stress?
There are so many situations in life that can cause us stress, and some have a long term impact. Often we don’t realise how much stress we are experiencing until something goes wrong, we get ill, feel unable to cope or find the things we rely on in life seeming less stable than they once were. Causes of stress can be broken down into three main areas:
- Making choices – The “paradox of choice” is an enlightening concept
- Multi-tasking – Taking too much on in an effort to stay ahead has the opposite impact from that we intend.
- Switching “on” & “off” – We’re too “connected” and so sometimes we don’t leave work or responsibility alone even if we need a rest.
As with any difficulty we encounter in our lives we can take control and make positive steps toward a much safer and fulfilling place, but we have to expend a little effort in doing so.
My interpretation of stress is that it comes from a disparity between the way we want the world to be (or ideal outcome in any given situation) and the way that it actually is. When we experience a big difference between what we want to happen and what happens in reality we feel the strain, and the more important the situation or subject, the more stress we experience. At that point we have a choice. We either change the way the world is (sometimes possible, but not always), or we change our view of the world. Once we are able to do that, the stress from the situation disappears and we move forward with a new map of the world.
I know it sounds simple and that in reality it doesn’t always feel so. That’s why its sometimes useful to have some help. So if you are struggling with too much stress I might be able to help.
What helps to relieve stress?
There are a number of things which underpin a feeling of relaxation and the top three are:
- Water – Anything related to water, the sound of it, being in it, floating on it, sitting beside it all have powerful positive impact.
- Outdoors – Being outside has a positive impact on stress levels, so the idea of just going for a walk really does work.
- Exercise – Active relaxation releases endorphins, burns adrenalin and makes you feel better
So there it is, if you can go for a run by the river you’ll feel your stress fall away.
The Importance Of “No”
A lot of the people I work with who struggle with stress and anxiety struggle to prioritise themselves and part of this is finding the strength to say “No”. They don’t want to disappoint and the thought that anyone might consider them unhelpful or difficult is decidedly stressful. The problem here is that all the time you say “yes” to the world you are inevitably saying “no” to yourself. Here are six ways of saying “No”
- A straight “No” – It may be uncomfortable but it also feels good to come up for yourself sometimes.
- A reflecting “No” – Acknowledge the importance to the other person but recognise your own as well.
- A reasoned “No” – Explain why it’s a “no” but insist that it is.
- A rain check “No” – This is a “I might be able to get to it later” “no”
- An enquiring “No” – See if there is anything else you can do to help even though you can’t do what is requested.
- A broken record “No” – Parents will be familiar with this one. It’s a “no” however many times you’re asked.
It’s not easy to say “No” but it is important. James Altucher’s book “The Power Of No” explains the value of this small but powerful word.
Have you experienced any of the following in the last year?
- Divorce or separation
- Trouble with Police
- Change in health
- Sexual difficulty
- Changes at work
- Change in finances
- Moving home
- Relationship conflict
- Change in social life
- Change in sleeping habits
All of these are stressful events, and if you have experienced any of them don’t be surprised that you are feeling the strain.
“The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another” – William James