Ever feel stressed and worried about something you have to do? Maybe you have exams or assessments coming up or you are a parent or friend of someone who is facing upcoming VCE exams, of maybe you have a busy time at work with deadlines to meet, an interview or tricky meetings.
Have you had thoughts like - I don't know enough, I haven't done enough work, I don't know what to do to help, I will not be able to write a good enough essay, they won't like me in the interview, I am going to fail, I might freeze and not be able to do anything.
To be completely honest I had many of these thoughts going on myself yesterday in relation to writing these blogs around dealing with stress and worry!! How ironic, I spent most of our grand final public holiday worried and stressed about writing good enough blogs, that included everything I wanted to share about stress and worry. I finished the first three blogs (the long play version of this blog is here Meet My Friend Stress - Long Play if you would like to read it), which includes psychological and physiological evidence from studies etc., and a lot of stress, about including everything and getting it just right, on my part.
I woke this morning and thought what I really needed to share in this blog was a simple practical way to deal with stress on the spot. I have used this many times and find it so useful, just didn't remember to apply and share it yesterday.
So here it is - what to do when feel the stress response kick in, in a response to a thought of worry. We will deal more with the worry train thoughts in the following blogs, lets concentrate on the stress response here.
So a thought of worry starts the stress response, your heart starts to pound, your breath rate increases and you feel a surge of energy. Our natural response to this physiological reaction is to avoid feeling it, because we think it is harmful. We push it away, ignore it, or numb it with alcohol or drugs. We will do anything to avoid feeling it, because we think it is the enemy.
But, is stress harmful? No, it is only harmful if we think it is. What if instead of rejecting it, we welcomed it as a friend with a gift for us. What is the gift you say? The gift is reminder to pause, breathe into the present, focus and use the energy constructively. So, we can see the same response as a friend helping us prepare for action - helping us to breathe into the present, focus, and use the energy to do what we need to do, to deal with the situation at hand. When we think of the stress response as our helpful friend it gives us courage and joy. Conversely when we see it as the enemy, it brings stress and fear.
So next time you feel the stress response kick in with the pounding heart and increased breath rate DO..
Stress A & B.
A. AWARE - Pounding heart, breath rate increase - here is my friend stress here to help
B. BREATHE - Take 3 deep breaths and come to the present.
You may need to repeat these steps a few times and often. But they will be very useful in helping you use the friendly stress response constructively to bring courage and joy.
That is enough for now. Although I am tempted to add my C and D lets wait till the coming weeks.
If you can't wait and want to read the long play, version of this blog it is available here. But, what I would recommend is, over the next week just play with the A and B above and make stress your friend. Simple and practical is sometimes best, and in my opinion, always less stressful
Take a warm bath or shower
Remember to relax and breathe and let the warmth relieve the tension. This will revive and refresh you and get you ready for focused action.
Take a break in nature
Go out into the fresh air and breathe - deep, full relaxing breaths.
Take a 5 minute lie down (shavasana)
A yoga teacher of mine recommends we all do this every day, for the rest of our lives. Simply lie down and fully relax, let go and breathe. My yoga teacher says "by dropping down, we release the issues in our tissues". Sounds easy and it is, and so restorative and relaxing. Why not give it a go and start today and continue for the rest of your life.
Lets look at some other gifts our friend stress brings next week.
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