12 Effective and Pro-Active Stress Busters!
Why we get stressed and what we can do about it…
When we get stressed it’s often more a case of, “why do we allow ourselves to feel stressed by something”. The answer to this may be an entire host of individual reasons ranging from personality clashes to deep under lying causes that bother us; however, these still only pertain to the superficial reason of stress…
The other reason is actually far less personal because it’s the same single root cause for all of us! This is because if we begin to ask ourselves “why we are stressed and for what purpose?” we eventually get to the same core reason. This reason being that we all wa nt to live happy, free and fulfilled lives BUT something more superficial that conflicts with our deep core values and model of the world is preventing us from doing exactly that. This “preventing factor” then becomes the cause of stress because we see it as preventing us from getting what we really want, thus causing frustration and various other negative emotions that amount to the feeling’s of stress.
So more importantly,
We all know that in heightened stressful situations we lose the ability to think as clearly as we might ordinarily, as well as stress being an exceptional danger to our health; so to help think more clearly and combat stress altogether, here are 12 useful pro-active pointers, including how to combat different and varying degrees of stress;
Focus on What You DO Want and What Really Matters –
When stressed, ask yourself “For what purpose am I stressed?” … you will get a string of reasons but for every reason, if you ask yourself further, “for what purpose” and then keep going with this question, you will ultimately get to wanting to be happy, free and live a good, fulfilled life. So if you then STOP and think for a minute, is the superficial or initial reason for you being stressed, really going to prevent you from ultimately getting happiness and fulfilment or achieving your important goals in life? (If yes then you need to read out of your comfort zone for complete answers!)
Whatever the answer may be, it’s important to make the decision to take personal responsibility for your own life and look to what CAN YOU DO ABOUT IT AND HOW BEST CAN YOU MANAGE SOMETHING rather than worry about what you can’t do or what won’t happen.
In a nutshell, focus on what you do want rather than what’s wrong, focus on the positives of a situation (although they may seem hard to find, there will be some – just have a good search and be grateful for these). Ask yourself what can you learn from things, how can you overcome them and what are you working toward – what is your real intention beyond the immediate stress? Keep your focus on what you want because what you wholeheartedly focus on, you will attract more of and ultimately get. So if you focus on the negative things, you’ll attract more negativity and the cycle will continue, so keep your focus positive and on what you want.
2. Take 2 minutes out –
- Sit down (with nice can cup of tea or water – black tea actually has a natural chemical, L-Theanine, that lowers anxiety) and focus on some helpful breathing cycles (It’s an old and perhaps obvious one but it does really help!)
- Take a deep breath in through your nose to fill your lungs to maximum capacity and then exhale quickly and deeply through your mouth. Do this several times (being mindful to stop if becoming dizzy).
- Then take in a large deep breath and just for a minute or so, breathe quickly in and out through your nose only, using your abdomen as a pump and at the same time visualise drawing a line around the perimeter of your body that represents a positive serge of energy.
- Now just breathe normally and notice the sensations in your body as you close your eyes and think of your favourite place or experience – perhaps a lovely holiday/relaxation scene and just indulge for a few minutes.
This will then help to refocus and bring back some calmness and help you to think more clearly.
3. Question Yourself –
“Does it REALLY matter?” “Is it really that important in the grand scale of life?” “Is this stress really worth sacrificing your health for?” A bit drastic but… “If you died tomorrow, was there any point in being so stressed and wasting time over it?” “would it matter or make any difference if you did or didn’t stress?” “what’s a more productive alternative to stressing?” “what do I need to happen?”
4. Peripheral Vision –
Whenever we’re stressed, we of course experience various forms of negative emotions whether this is anger, sadness, fear, hurt or guilt etc. So a useful technique to help alleviate this is to send yourself into a relaxed and calm state called “peripheral vision”.
This is very simple but amazingly effective because when you are in peripheral vision, your brain is unable to access any feeling of negative emotion thus allowing you to get on with what you need to, minus the stressful distraction, allowing you to calmly do something about the situation.
Here’s how you get into this state –
- Focus on a particular spot in front of you above eye level (This could be a picture hook, light switch, alarm etc. – anything above eye level.
- Now notice everything about this spot, the colour, size, shape, what it might look like if it wasn’t there, the purpose and function of the spot etc.
- Now whilst STILL focusing on this spot – just expand your vision outwards 180 degrees either side of you whilst STILL looking at the spot too, just notice what is at the side of you, what can you see in your peripheral vision whilst looking at the spot above eye level? – Notice all the things you can. Do this for a good few minutes.
- Now just bring your eyes back down to eye level and carry on your regular business in a much calmer and more centred fashion, allowing you to get on being far less stressed, if not at all.
5. Regular Activity and Taking Yourself Out of the Situation –
Any activity is massively beneficial because it helps to release endorphins (the brains happy chemical and natural pain killer).
However, make sure it’s something you enjoy, even if it’s a short work to a coffee shop or the news agents instead of driving etc. – Never underestimate the fresh air, changing your environment to free your mind and the endorphins generated! Even picking up the paper, reading a magazine or book, even calling a friend can be a great distraction to help readjust your focus and take yourself away from the immediate situation.
You can’t effectively solve a problem in the same space with the same level of thinking, and often place, in which it was created J
6. Tackle the Root Cause of Your Stress –
What’s it really all about? If you’re struggling to get to the bottom of it, invest in seeing a GOOD therapist so they can assist you in this and help you to release the problem or negative emotion once and for all – Although it can feel like a big or daunting prospect, it’s well worth it if you work with the right practitioner. It’s important to value seeing a therapist to “get well, embrace and enjoy life” rather than “because there’s something wrong with you”.
7. Take Action and Trust Yourself –
Be flexible and resourceful in taking action because you already have the answers, you just have to get into a good, resourceful state to effectively find them, and trust yourself. Relaxing and changing your scenery will also help this too. Work “the law of attraction” – see the book, @ www.outofyourcomfortzone.uk
8. Separate Intention from Behaviour –
If a certain individual is the instigator of your stress – it’s important to separate their intention from their behaviour. For instance, look at the person’s intention for acting or behaving in a certain way rather than focussing on the negative or undesirable behaviour they are displaying. This way you will see their intention is actually positive (even if it’s a positive reason for themselves). You can then point out that you appreciate their intention but continue to explain to them how they can go about things in a slightly different and more suitable manner (essentially change their negative behaviour because it causes you stress).
For example, if your child has been shop lifting – whilst this is a bad behaviour you might well be stressed about, look at their intention – perhaps it is because they have to shop lift in order to protect themselves from getting bullied by another group of kids (a positive intention for them). Now you’ve separated intention from behaviour, you can work out precisely what positive action you can take in order to do something about it! Ultimately by addressing the root cause of your stress, you can eliminate it.
Or take family stress –
See the person and their intentions rather than your personal expectations of what “a parent” or “whichever family member” should be. This can help to take the overly emotional charge and “stress” out of a situation in terms of being more objective and looking “at” the situation to deal with it, rather than being stuck “in” it.
9. Confront the Problem –
Even when other people are involved, it is still our responsibility as the person suffering from the stress to look at what it is WE can do to control the situation.
Example – If your stress is in the context of work, confront the boss and make your feelings clear and always state your own positive intentions and purpose for needing change.
10. Always take a proactive approach –
What will really make a difference to you?
Why not suggest or think about some personal or professional development courses for the work place or as a positive, productive distraction for you personally. This would then help reduce overall office stress or could give you many extra resources on a personal or professional development level. Also making you more empowered at work and appealing from an employer’s prospective.
11. Regarding Relationship Stress –
Often couples mismatch their values and personality profiles but once they become aware of one another’s, most problems can be easily solved. However, other than that, it’s the root cause that must be dealt with. Again, although initially daunting, a good therapist will dramatically help with this and make a huge difference.
Further to that, it’s a case of taking action in terms of knowing what’s good for you. If a situation can’t be worked out or resolved, then sometimes it’s best to remove ourselves from the situation that’s causing stress altogether and positively move on.
Write It Down or Talk It Through –
This helps to externalise things and can take some weight off your mind as well as help to see things in a different light – sometimes when you see things written down or hear them said aloud, things often don’t seem as bad as when we have them all whizzing around our heads.
Make A List – This can help in eliminating the stress altogether! Make two columns on a piece of paper, one column for ‘problems’ and one for ‘solution options’. Write down all your problems that result in stress until you run out, then write next to them the possible solutions. Although some options to solve the problem may not be too desirable or necessarily easy, they are nevertheless an option to eliminate your stress when you’re ready to let go. Focus on these and you will find more solutions start to present themselves.
See this as a ‘solution action list’ and work through it a bit at a time, doing what you can, when you can (in order to avoid overwhelm) and then tick it off once you’ve blitz it!
If you can do a little task every day that makes progress in sorting a problem, things will soon change in a big way. This also helps to keep a positive focus.
It is important however to reward yourself for taking action – give yourself other incentives to keep going (even if something small).
Generally, there are so many resources to assist in stress relief, even changing our diets can be very effective, did you know porridge increases serotonin and magnesium rich foods like spinach or salmon regulates cortisol levels – the stress hormone.
You’ll always find some techniques work better than others depending on the particular cause and nature of stress, so it’s important to explore as much as you can and find what best works for you. However if you follow the above simple pointers, you will soon begin to think and feel very differently!
If you seriously want to resolve chronic stress and anxiety, see www.outofyourcomfortzone.uk , the book has all the answers you need!
All best wishes going forward x