Having spent the last 15 years working in the corporate world and running my own business, there’s one thing that I see a lot of – and that’s STRESS.
Wherever you turn these days, everyone seems to be stressed.
What is STRESS and what does it actually mean to be stressed?
My definition of stress is pretty easy to understand – it’s simply tension and strain.
In terms of how it affects us as humans, stress causes us to experience ‘mental, emotional or physical tension.’
Surprisingly, it can be caused by both positive or negative experiences. Put another way, it is simply our body’s way of responding to demands. When we experience stress our bodies release chemicals into our blood stream, which increases our energy and strength.
Back when we were hunters and gatherers, stress kept us alive by ensuring we avoided coming into contact with ferocious, human eating animals. However, in today’s world, 9 times out of 10, stress is a response to something emotional rather than physical.
If it’s natural, why both trying to reduce stress?
What makes coping with this kind of stress difficult, is that there is generally no outlet for emotionally charged stress. If we’re unable to process emotionally charged stress, there’s a risk of getting so wound up we eventually go POP!
Learning some simple coping skills for stress management is therefore incredibly important (and sadly not taught that often).
“Stress is a choice”
If you accept that stress is a choice, you can choose to allow a situation to stress you, or you can simply “let it go”.
The moment I realized this, I started making conscious decisions to let things go instead of allowing them to make me “POP”.
It’s about empowering yourself to control the motion of energy. I really like the saying that “E-motion” stands for “energy in motion”.
The trick is therefore to let the energy go – release it just like a valve releases pressure in a tank.
‘What stress is to me, is someone else’s bliss’
Two very different articles I read on the same day highlighted this idea for me. The first was about a Chinese farmer who was celebrating because for the first time in 10 years, he had enough rice stored to see his family through the winter.
The second was about a banker in New York who committed suicide because his net worth dropped from $8 million to $1 million.
Isn’t it crazy how much we can worry about little things?
I have also learned that there is something deeper going on and we can actually carry stress for weeks and even years.
Some people will even go as far as saying that you can experience stress when you are born and carry it around with you your entire life. They believe that 1 in 4 children are born under a high level of stress. This causes them to experience increased instances of anxiety and tension as an adult. Without learning how to cope with stress, this just snowballs and snowballs with more and more pressure being placed on their central nervous system. Eventually the pressure and stress will manifest itself as some form of pain, and if left untreated for years and years, it may even evolve into cancer.
THE GOOD NEWS IS STRESS CAN BE SUBSTANTIALLY REDUCED
3 Simple Stress Management Strategies
1. Relax your central nervous system to cope with stress
Stress, worry and anxiety triggers our brain to think more.
See if you can imagine a monkey carrying a bag of water (maybe the type of bag that carries a gold fish) and that monkey is jumping from tree to tree and the water is bouncing all over the place.
This represents the mind of a stressed person.
It’s actually a never-ending cycle – the brain spins and this creates more tension and so on. The key to stopping this is BREAKING THE CYCLE.
5 Techniques For Breaking The Stress Cycle
- Meditation … I personally recommend transcendental meditation or “TM”. I do it twice a day and for me, it’s the number one strategy to keep stress away. I will go as far as saying TM has all but eliminated stress and anxiety from my life.
- Spend time in nature … Spending time in the bush or by the sea is incredibly relaxing. My advice is spend at least half a day every month. Remember – if it’s not in your calendar you won’t do it – so put it into your calendar now.
- Ayurveda … If you want some deep stress removal, then learn more about Ayurveda. I will do another blog just on this soon because it’s amazing.
- Breathing … If you stopped right now and took 10 deep breaths, you will find that this will slow you down and relax that central nervous system. Yoga also helps enormously with this.
2. Practice resilience to help you cope with stress
Resilience is described as the power or ability to return to the original form, position, after being bent, compressed or stretched. It’s the ability to recover readily from illness, depression, adversity, or the like. We need some discipline to practice resilience, and just like going to a gym – we start to form the resilience muscle. There are many different ways to build resilience, but here are two that I practice:
- Regularly look for the good in your life.
Try this – set an alarm on your clock to go off every 1 hour. When it goes off, stop what you are doing and look around you to find things that you are grateful for. They are EVERYWHERE. You might see a bird, or a tree that you can find gratitude in. You might see a road, and find gratitude in the fact that we are so lucky to have roads, or you might even look at a traffic light and be grateful that they are there to help with traffic flow. Instead of complaining about there being a lot of traffic on the road, get excited that your car is in a place with a lot of energy and how lucky you are to have a car! If you can practice seeing the good every hour, this will substantially allow you to cope with stress. Remember – it’s easier seeing the thing we don’t like instead of the thing we are grateful for
- Exercise. For me it’s 1 hour a day – 6 days per week. And at least half of this outdoors. I am not going to write too much about exercise as I am sure you have been told about it thousands of times, but it will build resilience enormously in your life.
3. Put life into perspective to help you cope with stress
The boy stopped complaining about having a good pair of shoes when he met another boy without feet
If you are feeling a bit stressed at the moment, just watch The Miniature Earth YouTube Video – (would love to hear your comments below by the way about this video).
I will often just stop and remind myself that life is amazingly short, and when I think of the size of the universe I realize just how small I am. This makes me think, “what gives me the right to complain or stress about this current situation?”
(It’s also worth checking out the short “Earth In Perspective” video as well)
What You Focus On Gets Bigger
Finally, please remember that what you focus on gets bigger.
If you are focusing on your stress and telling your friends and family how stressed you are, you are just going to get more of it.
And if you don’t choose to manage your stress for your own benefit, then think about doing it for the benefit of the people around you. It is unpleasant to be around a stressed person. They can be moody and cold.
By practicing the techniques above, you are actually giving to others as well as the receiving the obvious benefits for yourself. And when you give to others, you also receive so it ALWAYS comes back to you.
I would love to read your comments below, especially any other ideas you have for coping with stress.