It’s not stress that kills us, it is our reaction to it. ~Hans Selye
Take a break from whatever you’re doing right now, even if you’re reading this, and ponder on this question: Are you stressed about something right now?
If you asked me that question, I’d reply “yes” a lot of the times, because isn’t that a natural human tendency to stress? Isn’t that normal?
To an extent, stress is good for you. Little stress exerts a certain pressure without going overboard at the boiling point. Call it stress equilibrium, or whatever you may, but some amount of stress at the right time does help you move forward.
Think about the last time you were sitting an exam – were you stressed? If you cared enough about your degree or certificate, your stress propelled you forward to study well. Stress in short bursts will trigger protective chemicals and give you the much-needed boost.
Stress kicks in when you sense danger (real or imagined) that triggers the fight or flight response. Your body releases adrenalin and cortisol that lead to heightened senses, rise in blood pressure etc. These changes ready your body to deal with the situation and speed up your response times.
That said, when you are constantly stressed, you’re unable to sit still or get the work done, snap at loved ones with you heart’s racing and muscles tensed.
Needless to say, long-term stress is harmful to your health and longevity. They say a lot of diseases begin in the mind. I am no medical advisor, but here are some simple + mindful things that have helped me keep away unwanted and excess stress out of my life.
Try them and see which one works for you the most.
1. Get Aware
There are different techniques to reduce stress in your life but the first step is awareness. How do you know when you’re in stress? Personally, I feel it in my body. I also sense it in the way I respond to others – I am usually very snappy!
Your style may be something else. Simply bring your attention back to your body and scan it. Get aware of how you’re feeling.
- Do you feel heavy and unhappy?
- Are you constantly worrying?
- Is it hard for you to concentrate?
- Do you feel overwhelmed and/or angry often?
- Are you experiencing any aches?
- Are you eating and sleeping too much or too less?
2. Face your worst fears
Make an attempt to first isolate the cause of your stress. You’ll notice than more often than not, the cause is something external – a friend, spouse, relative or a situation in your life.
When I am feeling negative thoughts that cause stress, it helps me to detach from the situation and let the thoughts come in. I’ve noticed that the more I try to stop these thoughts/feelings, the more energy I spend in the process and it’s pretty draining and stressful!
A practice that works for me is to surrender to these thoughts and stop fighting with them. This takes conscious effort and deliberate intention from my end. I let these thoughts in, and by doing this I face the fear upfront. Something powerful happens in that moment – the moment you stop resisting, you know what’s the “worse” that could happen.
This is when I can “check out” the rock bottom, and that brings in the certainty of knowing what it is really like. Human beings have astonishing power to handle things, and looking at the fear in the eye (not in the fighting mode but in an observer mode) births a new power within you that says:
“no matter what happens, I can will handle it”.
3. Apply relaxation techniques
Have you heard of meditation? Many times, you say. But have you tried it? If not, what’s stopping you?
I personally don’t use meditation for stress relief, but for positive visualization. I’ll pick a stressful situation in my life, sit in the lotus position, close my eyes, take deep breaths, and start visualizing what happens in 2 weeks time when this is no longer a problem for me.
As I do this, I feed the image to my subconscious and the results of doing so far have been amazing. I’ve noticed that I’ll attract the right opportunities in the right time that alleviates the stress from a situation without bringing more stress in.
You may also want to try Progressive Muscle Relaxation, breathing meditation, yoga and other relaxation techniques to reduce stress.
Are you stressed and want to share it with the community? Go ahead and write a comment – sharing helps!
Image by Pink Sherbet Photography.