April is Stress Awareness Month. This is a great time to look at the stress and the stressors in your life and create a path to eliminate or significantly lower the chronic stress response.
Good Stress Versus Bad Stress
A certain minimal level of stress can be good. It can help us focus attention and access success resources. That kind of stress is eustress.
Eustress can happen for example when we're thinking about a first date with someone, preparing for a presentation, or doing something for the very first time. You've practiced, you're ready to go, you've done all the things necessary. But there are still those butterflies in your stomach. That type of stress is short lived, it’s episodic.
The problem stress is long term chronic stress. The sources of chronic stress can be many. They can be problematic situations at work, problems with significant others in a relationship, or ongoing financial based stress. These all (and many other situations) can create chronic stress.
How can you successfully deal with stress?
3 Ideas to Dissolve Stress
Idea Number 1: Conduct a Stress Assessment
The first thing I suggest is take an inventory of the top two or three situations, people, or circumstances you believe are stressors. Write those stressors down. Naming the stress and naming the source of stress alone can often help reduce your stress response.
Once written down, let your imagination wander and come up with three actions you can take to help reduce that number one stressor.
Questions to consider:
- Can you eliminate the trigger?
- Can you better prepare for the problem situation?
- Is this a situation that can be helped or eliminated with an honest, open conversation?
Let your subconscious mind have free rein to offer ideas that can eliminate or reduce the stress response.
Repeat the same process for the second and third stressors on your list.
Idea Number 2: Take Defense Action Ahead of Stress Creating Situations
What do I mean by that? As an example, If you know you're going to have a conversation with someone who is a problem, plan that conversation and the circumstances related to that conversation.
Rehearse in mind how you are going to deal with that person or situation. Create a mind video story where you act out what you will do, say, and feel. Play that video in the theatre of mind. Make the video big, bold, and in full Technicolor.
Once you have the plan in place and you created and played your video story, write down an affirmation that supports your story.
For example, if a co-worker is a problem you've created a video story about how you will deal with that co-worker on a day to day basis or in a particular situation. The affirmation would be something like,
“I choose to develop the strategies I created in that video story. I choose to apply those strategies in circumstances where I have contact with the individual I have a problem with."
The magic two words are, “I choose”. Before going into an interaction with that person, revisit the video story. It only takes a couple of seconds to do that. Then, reread the affirmation you have written down. This will help ensure you are emotionally prepared and mentally ready to deal with whatever comes up.
Idea Number 3: Take 1 to 2 Minute Breathing Breaks
I recommend you apply deep breathing early and often. Breathe in for the count of five, hold briefly for a second or so, and breathe out for the count of five. That can be four seconds, five seconds, or six seconds.
The important thing is to breathe diaphragmatically and rhythmically with a slow comfortable in breath, a brief hold for a second or so, and a slow out breath. As you breathe out, smile and say peace. Apply deep breathing for 30 seconds to two minutes as time and circumstances allow.
Doing this simple breath exercise several times a day will help keep your stress level down. You will feel better, your stress level will be lower, and you will have a much, much better day.
- Take a Stress Inventory and identify two or three promising stress lowering strategies;
- Create a video mind story for one or more of your chosen strategies and prepare a short affirmation using the words, “I Choose”; and,
- Practice 1 to 2 minutes of deep, Diaphragmatic Breathing several times a day.
Visit the “Mind Over Stress” Show Website
For more Stress Mastery methods visit the “Mind Over Stress Show” website at http://MindOverStress.us.