Our brains are wired to respond to stress and stimulation in very specific ways. Adrenaline, endorphins, Serotonin, and Cortisol are all ready to fire in an effort to balance your body.
But what if we take the same approach as the humans that embody all of these chemicals and hormones? What if we are able to have complete control of how WE respond to our situations and the actions we take just as the body responds to what it perceives as something that needs fixed?
This is where the pure benefit of stress management outweighs any situation we are experiencing. In the midst of all of the chaotic physical responses to our stress, our bodies are just trying to balance. We often forget to do the same outside of the physical form of us.
Here are my favorite five stress management essentials proven to alleviate some of the physical side effects of our experiences.
1. Handle with care.
Being prepared for the inevitable curveballs life throws isn’t just about having a backup plan. It’s about what you’ll do when it’s time to use it and what you’ll do if even THAT falls through. We are programmed for comfort. If you find yourself getting into that loop of negative thoughts, here’s your opportunity to physically make an effort to change your scenery. Talk a walk. Step outside. Sit down and compile a grocery list. Doing something small will be reason enough for your brain to take some of the focus away from the chaos.
2. Look for the gifts.
We don’t have to accept everything with great positivity. In fact, we can allow ourselves to get angry or upset. I find almost daily that if I’m frustrated or overwhelmed with any situation, my instinct is to let it sink me. That’s natural. Luckily, I have also discovered that I learn an incredible amount of patience through such things.
Our trials are our tools to find what we’re really made of and, more importantly, what we’re made for.
When our own lives get to be too consumed with daily stress, we tend to look only at OUR current status. We tend to block out much of what goes on with others simply because we’re consumed with trying to balance ourselves. But here’s a flip side I have found to be invaluable; Giving your energy to someone else in need of it breathes new energy into you. It clears out some of the space in your own mind as you use that pent up stress to fuel an effort to give. When you wake up to racing thoughts of pressure from work, sadness over a loss, or even just a feeling of being stuck, USE that anxiety. The negative energy you shed in walking up to a volunteer opportunity gets to be transformed into positive energy for someone else as they hold the tray you’re filling for them.
4. Sit down.
I see people every day who have somehow convinced themselves that they don’t deserve a break. The fact is, breaks are not earned. They’re required in order to keep going. We cannot operate without them. I’ve found that it’s more of a responsibility to take reasonable breaks in order to fuel actual productivity and clarity.
5. Rinse and Repeat.
This is perhaps the most difficult step for me. After the exhaustion of mental and physical response to stress and putting in the effort to practice the first 4 essentials, it’s often more daunting to me to do it all over again. The key I’ve found here is patience- Slowing down and trusting that the process of repeating eventually gets easier. Implementing new ideas in handling stress is stressful in itself. If we are able to step back however, we will see that it does get easier. It becomes the automatic response. This is where using stress is crucial.
Eventually, we handle our situations as they slowly, but surely stop handling us.