Living with stress not only plays havoc with productivity - it can put your entire wellbeing at risk. Pinpointing your own behaviours, thoughts and actions that exasperate external events, leads you towards effective management of stress levels.
Effective stress management leads to a happier, healthier life.
Identify thought patterns
Stressful situations occur daily, whether you’re stuck in peak hour traffic, dealing with difficult people or experiencing bad health. Within those scenarios, the way you think about them is generally the source of unnecessary anxiety. For example, perhaps you’re indulging in some internal road rage and blaming the cars in front of you, the council, the roads or the holidays for a traffic jam.
This type of thinking does nothing but steadily increase your stress levels, for no reason. You’re not in danger and running late isn’t the end of the world. Therefore, the stress is almost entirely a result of your own thoughts. Identifying these thought patterns allows you to take back control and manage your responses, rather than reacting.
Acceptance is difficult, because worry is often so prominent that it feels more comfortable than letting go.
Identifying your thought patterns is the first step towards accepting the uncontrollable. What you can always control, is how you respond to external events. While it’s always healthy to express emotions, doing so is very different to ‘stressing’ over an issue you can’t change.
Acceptance is difficult, because worry is often so prominent that it feels more comfortable than letting go. The easiest way forward, is to reframe your situation beginning with, “I can’t do anything about this, so…” and move on to looking for an upside, personal growth opportunities and bigger picture results.
Connect with people
It seems simple to ask for help, but how often do you do it? Think about times when you’re struggling with an issue and finally tell a friend about it. Apart from the fact that they might have offered great advice, no doubt you felt lighter and more capable of dealing with it. In fact, it’s scientifically proven that connection with others releases hormones that act as natural stress relievers.
Exercise to release endorphins and relieve stress.
Work it off
Exercising when you’re stressed, busy and running out of time seems totally counter-productive. This couldn’t be further from the truth, as even 15 minutes helps release endorphins and lower stress. Run up and down the stairs a few times, dance in the living room, take your dog for a walk or jump in the ocean.
You might have to make yourself do it at first. But, when you experience the relief, it’ll be your best ‘go to’ tool when you notice stressful thought patterns rearing their ugly heads.
Nicole Leigh West
Nicole Leigh West is the author of fiction novel, 'The Gypsy Trail' and an internationally recognised travel and lifestyle writer.
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