Stress can be helpful. If you are working to a deadline or need motivation, stress can certainly egg you on. It can help you to perform better. Stress, under ordinary competitive circumstances, is an excellent thing; it is why people often win. The stress can drive them. And stress, in a dangerous situation, is also excellent. It makes you hyper vigilant and aware of not getting into trouble.
What is stress?
Stress is the body’s way of reacting to some kind of threat or demand. Your nervous system releases a whole lot of stress hormones which include adrenaline and cortisol. These two hormones get the body ready for emergency action.
How does stress present itself?
It can be by a constant nagging pain in your stomach. It can be a quickened heartbeat. Your breathing can become fast, your blood pressure can rise and your senses become sharper. Again, none of this is bad in the short term. It is when these feelings are more often with you and not with you that they become a health issue.
When does stress become a problem?
When stress is with you constantly, it becomes unhealthy. It is when no matter what you are doing, you feel stressed and anxious. A permanent state of worry is incredibly unhealthy. When stress is overwhelming it can damage not just you but everyone around you. It can lead to physical illness and mental illness and just like any illness, stress needs to be managed.
1.Acknowledge your stress
The first thing to do is acknowledge that you are stressed. Once you recognize that you are stressed then you can look at how to manage the stress. In today’s world we lead a very fast pace. Wake up, get breakfast, do a bit of exercise, shower, work, work harder, work faster, fetch the kids, do the shopping, do a bit more work, squeeze in an extra meeting, pay a few bills, feed the dogs, feed the kids, take to and from extra murals, a bit more work, a dog walk, get stuck in traffic, and so on. It is a never ending cycle.
2.Manage your stress
Once you have acknowledged that you are stressed, look hard at the things that stress you out. Try and change them if you can. Sometimes it is okay for the kids to wait fifteen minutes. Maybe try and have one meeting less per day. Pay your bills online. Get somebody to help you. And most importantly – breathe.
3.Breathing and meditation
Simple breathing, conscious breathing, is one of the most important things that you can do for yourself. There is a saying, a Tibetan saying that goes ‘Small moments, Big Times’. It is a meaningful statement. Simply translated it means you should take a few moments (a half a minute), breathe deeply and consciously, and focus only on the moment.
You can do this mindful pause absolutely anywhere. While you are waiting for your child to finish their ballet, in the bus, while you are waiting for your meeting to start, in the bathroom, at home while you cook. Always take thirty seconds and just be in the moment and breathe.
How to do the Mindful Pause
Take a deep breath in. Breathe in through your nose. Fill your lungs from the bottom of your stomach, breathing up through your torso and in to your chest.
As you breathe in close your eyes and feel. Be aware of everything that you can feel. Feel the wind against your skin. Feel the fabric of your shirt. Feel the air all around you. Be totally conscious of the moment.
Focus on your breath. Feel the air fill your stomach and your chest. Feel the air that is touching your nose or your mouth. Let your mind wander. Don’t think about anything, try and let go of everything.
Breathe out slowly. Do it as comfortably as you can. There are no rules about how long you should hold your breath for, of if the in breath should be longer than the out breath. Just breathe. Slowly, deeply, consciously.
Bring yourself back to the present. If you have time, do this over and over. If you only have thirty seconds, do it for just thirty seconds. You will notice that your heartbeat immediately slows down, any anxious feelings in your stomach will disappear, and there will be a lightness to the way you feel and to your mood.
Basically, by breathing slowly you are slowing everything down. You may not be able to control the way the world is, or the fast pace of the world, but you can control your pace. Take breaths in between tasks and chores. Do some breathing while you watch television even.
We all rush around. But it is not good for us at all. We forget to take in the small moments and we forget to just be this thirty second mindful phase will remind you to be in the moment.
Being in the moment is helpful for stress. Remember that chronic stress is unhealthy and can lead to all sorts of illnesses. Nip your stress in the bud. Slow down. Breathe. Be mindful.