Although stress is something that is impossible to eliminate entirely, a certain amount can actually be useful. Challenges, which are difficult but doable are good for motivation, whereas too much stress can have all kinds of negative consequences. The problem is not that stress exists, but how much of it there is, how we are handling ourselves when confronted by it and how we apply stress management techniques to use the stress to propel us forward and not push us back. Below are a few tips on how to deal with stress:
1. Turn from negative to positive, from primitive to intellectual
Any negative thoughts and feelings that we have gets turned into anxiety that accumulates in our ‘stress bucket’. The more there is in our bucket, the more stressed out we are. And because our buckets have limits, they overflow when there’s too much. So the best thing to do would be to limit the amount of negativity in our lives by carefully selecting our thoughts and focusing on the positive aspects.
Of course, this is not so easy to do when we don’t understand how the brain works. To put it quite simply, our mind is made up of an intellectual mind (the conscious part that innovates, creates solutions and stays positive) and a primitive mind (the reactive, emotional and negative mind). When we deal with stress using the intellectual mind, we come up with creative solutions and we get to do really well. But when we deal with stress using the primitive mind, then the caveman also comes out. We stomp, or we become filled with fear, we procrastinate, or we refuse to deal with it by sleeping/hibernating through whatever we’re supposed to be dealing with. In today’s world, that translates to anger issues, anxiety and depression. That’s why it’s useful to have the support of experts, to help us sort through our brains’ functions and equip us with powerful tools that allow us to take control of the stress in our lives.
2. Catch some deep Z’s –
Aside from limiting our negative thoughts we also have another thing to help us reduce the amount of stress in our buckets. Nature, being the wise mother that she is, has built-in a way for our bodies to empty our stress buckets in the form of REM (rapid eye movement). During REM, we replay the day’s events and turn them from an emotional memory into a narrative memory. In other words, we move it from the primitive mind to the intellectual mind.
Stress doesn’t just bring about changes in our brain, also has in our bodies. As an example, when we encounter stress, the brain triggers a response in the body that makes changes to our physical state: our muscles tense, our brain is on high alert, our digestion may slow down and our mouth become dry. And because the body is very efficient in allocating its available resources, it slows down or stops any non-essential activities to focus on the task at hand. The body is poised in a ‘fight or flight’ stance, ready to act at any given time to preserve life. This was great for the caveman because the body gets ready to address the threat, and it helped them survive. But today, when our body goes through the stress responses and no threat comes, we have nowhere to redirect our energies. And this can be very draining. That’s why exercise is useful because it gives us a useful outlet to expend the energies that stress builds up in the body.
4. Get in touch with a professional
When you’re having a hard time handling the stress on your own, it’s always best to call in reinforcements. Our highly qualified practitioners at Changes Welcome have spent years studying the brain and its functions and have developed the tools and skills that can help people get the balance back in their lives.
Read more about Hypnotherapy to Help with Stress.