Managing stress

A previous post dealt with the effects that the mind and emotions can have on the physical body leading to symptoms of stress. This post considers the actions we can take to increase our ability to withstand stress and recover from its ill-effects.

Some things you can do –

Get to the nitty-gritty of what’s really stressing you

Write down all the things which are bothering you. For example this could be a work issue, a situation at home, a relationship problem, financial difficulties, health worries, your image and appearance or troublesome neighbours.

Then for each item listed decide in which of the following 3 ways you are going to deal with it. You can either
–          Take some action to deal with the situation
–          You can change your perception of the issue and the importance and meaning you attach to it.
–          Just accept the situation and get on with it

Raise your emotional resilience

Put in place some measures to boost your ability to withstand pressure such as:

–          Get connected – draw on the support of partners, family, the local community. Isolated people are much more likely to feel emotionally vulnerable
–          Get creative – draw on your creative skills  e.g. take up art lessons, learn a musical instrument, redesign your home or garden
–          Write a journal. Sometimes when we write it all down our perspective can change, or it is like sharing a problem.
–          Organise yourself and feel more in control
–          Get a pet
–          Break out of the mould, do not get caught up in the world’s dramas and the mass consciousness of the world.

Try some relaxation techniques

–          Become more aware of your breathing, if feeling stressed take a series of slow, even and deep breaths
–          Change your posture, stand tall instead of adopting a slouching defeatist posture
–          Switch your attention to your feet – we accumulate a lot of emotional charge around our head when we worry or stress, and imagine you are breathing in and out of your feet.  You should start to feel calmer.
–          Reconnect with nature – go and stand outside amongst nature. Really sense it, feel it, smell it, and observe it
–          Take up  meditation
–          Listen to relaxing music

De-stress your body

Your body mirrors your emotional state. Whenever you get tense or stressed your body mimics those emotions, whether you realise it or not.  The body is a gateway into the mind, and body-based approaches will reduce your stress levels.
Scan your body for tension. Get into a routine of spending a couple of minutes scanning your body (e.g. when you wake or when you are in the bathroom. ). Mentally run through your body feeling for signs of tension. When you find a tense area, first tighten up that part of the body and then let go completely while breathing out. Repeat until the tension disappears. Continue to work through the body until you are feeling completely relaxed.
Get Physical. Physical exercise is a great way to de-stress and release pent up emotions.
Soften your gaze Next time you are stressed or facing a problem, notice how narrow your focus of attention has become. Instead,  look up, open your eyes and soften your gaze so you take in everything in your peripheral vision. This defocusing instantly de-stresses the body and mind.
Practice smiling. Smile with your mouth and eyes whilst breathing from your belly

Soothe your relationships

A supportive social network can help cushion you from the adverse effects of stressful events. But sometimes the actions or proximity of just one person who is causing you stress can be enough to cause you distress. If that is the case try these techniques:
Bell jar technique – when you are affected  by noise imagine a glass bell jar being placed over the person or situation and notice how the noise doesn’t bother you any more
Redesign your enemy – imagine the person who is causing you difficulty in a ridiculous situation.
Give up being right  – learn to let go. Sometimes it is best just to walk away
Protect yourself – from others negative energies by imagining yourself to be in a protective bubble of light.
Make someone’s day – once a week do something for someone else without expecting anything in return