A lot of personal growth teachings talk about stress as something to avoid, manage and relieve.
Not all stress is bad.
Positive stress can motivate you to meet your deadlines or help us focus and concentrate to produce quality work. It can give us energy to get on with the day positively and help improve our alertness, which is necessary for survival and personal greatness.
Back in the caveman days, it went like this: we would notice a wild animal, as either an enemy or food. We would respond to that stress with the appropriate “fight, flight or freeze” response as adrenaline surged through our bodies and we would react swiftly and decisively. The stress would then exit our system (literally) and we would revert to a calm, relaxed state.
Let’s call it “functional stress.”
The problem these days is that we aren’t so good are releasing excess stress anymore. We are living in a world where we wear stress as a badge of honour and can’t differentiate between good and bad stress.
Good stress has a function, such as “get out of the middle of the road” or “make sure your project is done on time”.
Bad stress is stress that is 100% made up in your mind.
These are the stories you tell yourself, such as “I need to work harder to earn more money to pay the mortgage” or “Nobody likes me. I’m such a loser.”
The following seven exercises can help manage emotional stress:
1. Learn how to turn your stress off.
Step outside, take a few deep cleansing breaths, take a break; turn your mind away from the your computer screen, phone, email and Facebook. You’ll come back refreshed, ready to take action or to choose not to be stressed out.
2. Say no when you are feeling overwhelmed.
It’s your life. It’s your tank that’s being depleted. Be helpful when you can and “politely selfish” when you can’t. When you are rested and calm, you’re more inclined to help without resentment or elevated stress.
3. Talk your friends.
Speak to a good friend and have a good vent—then stop and don’t give it any more energy. You’ve released that energy to the Universe. Focus on the positives now!
Although meditation is not physical, it is a tremendous stress release. If you don’t know how, Deepak Chopra always offers a free 21-day meditation challenge. If you can shut down the constant self-talk—the negative inner chatter—and you can stop thinking about your worries, you will be calmer and happier. Meditation also gives your body a much-needed opportunity to heal itself from the detrimental effects of stress.
5. Know your body and listen to it.
Cold sores, headaches, tension in your shoulders, slow muscle recovery, digestive upsets, hot flushes, menstrual problems, impotence, infertility, fatigue, a sense of heaviness and other unwanted symptoms are red flags. Honour these signs.
A smile stimulates a powerful physiological response. You can’t be stressed when you’re smiling (try it, I dare you!). Smile at yourself in the mirror, and hold the smile for a minimum of two minutes. Even if your smile starts off fake, it will soon transform into a gorgeous, eye-crinkling, deep smile. And laugh, if you want to. It’s good for you.
7. Be grateful.
You can’t be stressed when you’re thankful for the abundance and greatness in your life. Spend time thinking about what’s right and good, rather than on what’s bad and ugly. It takes practice to switch off and de-stress because the perceived fear is in our heads. Coaching is a great way to learn how to manage emotional stress, take control of your life and be more positive and calm.
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Apprentice Editor: Carrie Marzo / Editor: Renée Picard
Photo: Rahul Gaywala / Pixoto