Stress is today’s new epidemic. Burnouts, anxiety and depression are all rooted from stress which is caused by increased pressure from employers who demand more for less combined with a wildfire fueled by the search of higher social status through accumulation of the latest stuff.
Luckily, stress is getting more and more recognition for its absolute hazardous effect on us and here are a few tips on the way how to deal with and reducing it.
EXERCISE. Anyone who has an idea of how the body actually works should be able to figure out pretty easily that physical movement reduces stress. Fortunately, hard training is not required, already some quick walks a week give good effect on both frontal lobes and hippocampus, two important brain structures for stress management.
In a recent study on the subject, one group was stretching a few times a week, the other was powerwalking. The Powerwalks group received a larger hippocampus after one year, despite the fact that it normally shrinks by one percent annually from adulthood.
SLEEP. The chapter sleep is not a chapter. It’s a hundred chapters – or a thousand. Sleep researcher like Matthew Walker – whose book The Sleep Riddle drew like a wildfire through the world this year – cannot emphasize enough how important a good sleep is for our stress resistance. For example, in studies, a significantly greater activity in the amygdala can be recorded – a part of the brain that handles strong emotions such as fear and acute stress – in people with sleep deficits, when exposed to images of angry people.
For the topic of sleep, check this podcast out: Matthew Walker @ JRE
BREATHE. Zone out and divert all your focus to your breathing. Where are you breathing? High up in the chest or low down in the diaphragm? You should be doing the latter. Close your eyes and mouth, hold one hand on the stomach and one hand on the chest, the hand on the stomach should move more than the one on the chest, breathe deeply through your nose and feel the air going in and out. Try breathing out twice as long as breathing in. This also works as a introduction to meditation.
ANTI-STRESS EXERCISES. these are recommended by multiple reputable stress researchers, there are many but you can start with these two.
- Eye Relaxation. You look relatively slowly up and down ten times, then left right ten times, then diagonally to one side ten times, then diagonally in the other direction ten times, then you turn the eyes in the first left ten times, then the right turn ten times. This should cause the body to relax and calm your breathing down.
- Visualize words. For example, if someone at a meeting comes with criticism or admonition, you should take value words such as “bad” and “relax” and “badly prepared” and imagine them for their inner look just like different words consisting of different letters. This filters out the negative emotions and can focus on the message itself.
ELIMINATION. Review your working day and your other duties and your relationships. What is important and necessary for you, what commitments can you leave without failing yourself or others? Maybe you should not be a treasurer in both the co-operative and sports association? Learn to say no to certain things and that its okay to do so. What people give you joy and stimulation, which creates conflict and who drains you on energy?
In plain text: Remove unnecessary jobs and tough people! And maybe you don’t have to pick up the cell phone as often as I know you do ?!
STRESS ANALYSIS. Let’s say you get super stressed by the risk of getting late. Then give yourself better margins when it comes to starting the journey. Or do you get mad by a rotten cherry in the box? Do not buy cherries. Or add extra money to find the best supplier.
OWN TIME. Anyone who does not love himself cannot love others, it is sometimes called. While it has some truth to it, its not absolute, even the faint-hearted self-defeated man is capable of love! However, stress researchers agree that the person who always puts others in the first place and never himself risks being worn down and burned out. Do you enjoy bathing, listening to music, go fishing, comedy TV series, fermenting cabbage, going to festivals or perhaps driving go-cart? Then make sure to occasionally do these things!
REALISM. Don’t be a perfectionist. A perfectionist is never satisfied. For the perfectionist, there is always some shit in the corners to clean away, that is, stress stimuli. But don’t fix what is not broken. If something works, don’t repair it! The perfectionist easily ends up in a vicious spiral of inferior sleep and less self-time and thereby higher stress and thus higher demands on removing the shit in the corners and thus even less sleep and self-time and even more stress…
ACCEPTANCE. Some people you need to interact with, they can be family or important colleagues. Thus, some stress situations are inevitable. You will get stuck in traffic sometimes, you will periodically have too many balls in the air, you will be forced to compromise in a negotiation. Then add as little energy as possible to cursing the situation, just let it be a fact of life. Take the opportunity to listen to some nice music or call a friend if you get stuck in the queue. That is, do something good from the situation that has arisen. Don’t try to control the tide, be like the water and let it flow in and out.
INTERPRETATION. How important will this missed meeting be in ten years? That glass of milk I just spilled out – was it full or half full? Your child was stolen on bus cards and mobile, yes it is terrible – but the child lives and is undamaged. Thank God!
The smallest grain of dust can be a disaster for some, while some people who face real disasters can find a calm even there. So make a difference to the stressor – the one that causes the stress – and your reactions. You probably can’t prevent tornadoes. But you can adapt your reaction to it.
EGO SHRINKAGE. You and your partner argue about whose turn it is to empty the dishwasher. And there are quarrels at the boat club: Who should watch the ships when the cold rain is present? In these situations, it can reduce the stress of taking a generous step forward. I empty the machine! I patrol the docks in the rain! Eventually, the “counterparty” will hopefully show good will. And then you end up in a much nicer “negotiation situation”, where both want to take responsibility instead of getting away. You compete in generosity, which takes down the stress radically. To set an example, you have to act the example!
MEANINGFULNESS. In an interesting experiment at Stanford University, two groups of students were asked to write a diary during the winter holidays. One group would report on positive events, while the other group would explain how different life events – both positive and negative – matched their values and beliefs.
When they later followed these groups over time, you could clearly see improved health – both physical and psychological within the latter group. It seemed to give these individuals a higher sense of control as well as an idea about the different human contexts they were a part of.
With the Stanford-based stress researcher and mindfulness expert Kelly McGonigal’s words: “Stress-filled experiences were no longer just difficult situations to deal with, they became a way of expressing their values. /… / Annoying little things turned into moments of insight and meaning.”
STOP – OBSERVE – ACCEPT – LET GO
SOAL. is a fantastic tool to keep in your pocket for a quick solution to something that comes in your way and disrupts your flow. When it occurs, just stop what you’re doing, observe everything surrounding this – both yourself and the object, try your best to just accept whatever is going on and let it go as you keep on with your day.
This might not work for everything, but I’d say for most things, since most things aren’t as significant as we make it out to be. A correlating fact to all this is that 90% of all things we worry about never happens.