Dealing with Stress in a difficult environment
Dealing with Stress in a difficult environment
So it continues….
The doubt and uncertainty, the fears and bad news, the logistical and mental challenges. There is no doubt that this has been a very difficult time for many, many people. Maybe there is light at the end of the tunnel. Recent announcements of advances by the pharmaceutical companies have lifted some spirits certainly but it does appear that we will still have to deal with restrictions for a while to come. Furthermore this has taken us right through the traditional holiday time, a time when we would normally be rejoicing and spending time with family and loved ones and not to mention engaging in frivolities, parties and the lifting of spirits.
For some the restrictions are having a very detrimental affect on their wellbeing. There are some who are perfectly happy to spend more time away from the crowd and may actually enjoy the peace and quiet, whilst there are some who absolutely need the social interaction. Most are somewhere in between and whilst they appreciate some downtime, they will miss the energy they get from interacting with others.
So how do we cope with the stress in this difficult environment?
- Be kind to yourself:
- The person you have most conversations with during the day is likely…yourself! Be aware that though we might label it ‘thinking’ you are having a constant dialogue with yourself and many of us can be harder on ourselves than we ever would be on anyone else. Become aware that your own internal dialogue is a bit like hypnosis…self-hypnosis. Are you programming yourself for success or failure? Are you making yourself feel good with uplifting words and thoughts or are you creating your own stress by focusing on what could go wrong or what has not worked? Be your own best friend. Practice being kind to yourself.
- Get outwardly focused:
- When you are in the flow, when you are doing something you really love, time and stress just disappear. You are in the moment and your focus is external. When you are in your own head you tend to be either thinking of something from the past or thinking about something that may or may not happen in the future and the inclination of the mind is to focus on events that either didn’t turn out the way you wanted or may not do so. The focus is internal. Get a hobby, find something that interests you, read or listen to a book, learn a language.
- Stay active, get outside
- One of the things that affect our state, how we feel, is movement. There is a clue in the word e-motion. If a person is feeling down they should get up and move. Among other things movement triggers the lymphatic system which is all about clearing out the toxins and movement will increase the oxygen flow in the body. If you can get out into the open air then there is the additional benefits of fresh air and vitamin D. They say that it is impossible to be in nature and stressed at the same time. There is no wifi but the connection is much better. Dance, walk, cycle, jog, do something: don’t take it lying down.
- Keep a journal
- If you don’t give the mind something to do it will just run and run and run. Sometimes people have a bad day and then the mind says “let’s re-run that so we can feel crap all over again”! Some religions refer to it as the monkey mind, it’s always causing mischief and it just won’t stand still. The best way to get clarity on the things that are troubling you is to write them down. It is the only way to get something to stand still long enough until you figure out the solution. There is something magical that happens between brain and hand so better that you take the old traditional pen and paper rather than type on a computer. Find things to be grateful for and write them down. We learn by repetition, let me say that again, we learn by repetition, yet some people spend more time repeating what they are unhappy about or not grateful for. For one week make a habit of writing down what you are grateful for, all the little things, nothing is too small because the more you focus on them the more they expand.
- Learn to breath
- When you think about it….everything else can wait. There is a reason that all relaxation techniques focus on the breathing. Our modern culture goes so fast, there are so many messages coming at us every minute of every day that we are constantly in our mind, talking to ourselves and have forgotten how to just breath. Many of us are breathing high in the chest, running on adrenaline, constant self-dialogue, demanding of ourselves, little or no fresh oxygen and then we wonder why we felt tired, stressed and burned out! Take a moment to take a deep breath preferably in through your nose and out through your mouth, then do it again. Allow your shoulders relax, stop and relax for a moment, become aware of your surroundings and simply learn to feel good. Oxygen aids digestion and sleep. I think it just might be important.
- Eat well & Sleep well
- It should go without saying that it is important to get the proper exercise, nutrition and sleep but it becomes a vicious circle for some. We eat to take our minds of things, but then we tend to eat the wrong things and so we feel bad about it and then we beat ourselves up…then have something to eat to pick ourselves up again! Your body needs oxygen, water then food, in that order. They say our bodies are near 70% water and our brain is 90% water. Many adults simply do not consume enough water. The trigger for hunger is very similar to the trigger for thirst, so maybe try having a drink first and see if the hunger subsides. Avoid food and activities before bedtime that would interrupt sleep and create a pattern of going to bed at a set time so that your body learns. People who wake up during the night tend to give themselves a hard time for it which only makes the mind run faster! Lying still doesn’t tend to work, it’s often better to get up and have a drink of water and then go back to bed. If that doesn’t work then start at step 1 above!
Author: Gordon Berry; NLP Practitioner, trained in Mindfulness and Hypnosis.
Gordon is a Master Practitioner in NLP and trained in Mindfulness and Hypnosis.