Stress is a part of modern life it seems.
Yet we know it's bad for us, bad for our mental heath and physical health too. Long term stress actually disables the immune system, so it's worth incorporating some easy stress busting tools into your daily routine. Try these:
1. 'We must cultivate our gardens' Voltaire
You wouldn’t leave weeds to grow unchecked in your garden, would you?
Every gardener knows the importance of regular maintenance. Pulling up weeds allows space to sow new seeds.
So why do people leave negative thoughts and experiences to run around unchecked in their mind? Having a constant stream of negative thoughts running as the background tape in your head is a bit like continually hitting yourself with a hammer and wondering why you have a headache!
One of the key ways to manage stress is to listen to your internal dialogue and ask yourself 'am I being my own best friend or my own worst enemy?'
2. Get support
New information emerging from the world of neuroscience now helps us understand the importance of learning essential mind management skills. Why do people wait for an emotional crisis before seeking help? Surely regular maintenance and support is the answer? Get ongoing emotional support.
3. Take an MOT for the mind
You take your car for a regular MOT and health check to make sure it is running smoothly and efficiently, so why wouldn't you take yourself along to a life coach or therapist and check out the ways to manage stress in your life?
There is a philosophical story of two prisoners in neighbouring cells who realise that, by tapping on the dividing wall; they can 'talk' to each other. Paradoxically, the wall which separates them also becomes their means of communication.
As human beings, we talk and we listen. We seek to understand and be understood. We realise the importance of words and the significance of the gaps in between.
4. Check out your environment
Since the 1980s, we have been led to understand it is our brain chemistry which makes us feel bad, depressed or anxious. This is not based on fact and, currently, there is no evidence that antidepressants work any better than sugar pills as ways to manage stress. We have simply misunderstood and underestimated the impact of environment on human well-being.
5. Use the 'Happiness Formula'
Turns out our emotions are our best friends. If someone wakes up in the morning feeling anxious, angry, down or depressed, their brain is sending them messages that some of their human needs are not being met. They then have a choice. They can either take a look at their life holistically or wonder what requires attention or they can go and seek medication to numb the psychological discomfort.
Instead, we can become our own emotions 'detective' and consult a simple secret formula to find out which of our emotional needs is not being met.... and consider what we can do about it.
NB. Anyone considering coming off medication or antidepressants should do so under medical supervision.
Frances Masters MBACP GHGI FRTC