I’m a lifelong learner and have been doing some further in-depth training on stress. I’ve also just finished reading a fantastic book on the topic by Davidj called ‘Destressifying’. Stress truly is an internal thing. It might seem like it’s the external world that’s stressing you out, but it’s how you are perceiving the world, that’s really the cause.
An overwhelming majority of us are on ‘amber alert’ most of the time. This is caused by small daily, consistent stressors, that leave you on edge and your mind jumping around all over the place.
Just by the very nature of life nowadays, with all it’s sensory overload coming from all directions – social media, the news, advertising, our smartphones, our jobs, trying to multi-task and being plugged in 24/7 – it’s no wonder we are all stressed!
Stress is also the root cause of a lot of chronic diseases such as heart disease, asthma and gastrointestinal issues to name but a few. That’s why taking the time to unplug and recharge your batteries through silence and other nurturing activities, is so important to correct this imbalance.
In his book, Davidji defines stress in a way that I’d never heard before. Stress is caused by your needs not being met. You can imagine your needs like buckets and if they are not being filled up then your stress response gets triggered. This is because you just expect them to be met. It’s actually inbuilt into your human software. It’s instinctual.
When you perceive that they aren’t being met, it’s the difference between your current reality (needs not being met) and how you expect it to be (needs being met) that causes stress. So how do you know what your needs are? The ultimate blueprint for your needs are the Chakras. I go into that in my blog about ‘How to get all get all your needs met’.
The most powerful tool at your disposal for stress is 100% free and it’s breathing! When you are stressed your breath gets shallow and moves into the upper part of your chest. Taking long slow and deep breaths when you feel yourself being triggered, sends a signal to your nervous system that all is well and to calm down.
It also provides an interrupt to your reactive response and gives you that extra breathing space to choose your next thoughts or actions. I like to practice my A. B, C’s when it comes to my thinking.
A = Awareness & Acceptance
Being aware of the thoughts and beliefs in your mind, is the first step in destressifying and really to any change you want to make in your life. What are you telling yourself? What do you believe? Your mind has a nasty habit of distorting, generalising (look out for words like ‘always’, ‘never’, ‘everybody’ or ‘all’), imagining the most catastrophic outcome and even deleting some things all together!
It’s also important to accept whatever is there and to not push it away or think that you ‘shouldn’t’ be thinking or feeling that way. Accept whatever arises with awareness and kindness.
B = Breathe!
What usually happens at this point is, you go into your usual automatic response – you lash out, snap at someone, worry, panic, run away, bury your head in the sand or grab the nearest numbing agent such food or alcohol. Taking a moment to breathe, interrupts this knee-jerk reaction and switches on the relaxation response.
There is a whole menu of breathing techniques and exercises, A great one is called ‘box breathing’ and it only takes 16 seconds! This is when you breath in for a count of 4, hold the breath for 4, breathe out for 4 and hold again at the end of the exhale for 4.
This also gives you the space to ask yourself ‘what is it I really need right now?’
C = Choose!
You can then choose your response consciously. Get into the habit of not believing the first thoughts that come into your head when you are stressed. Consciously choose your thoughts by asking ‘what would I rather believe instead?’
This does take practice and a lot of self-awareness which you get through practices like meditation and Yoga.
Destressifying Yoga Pose
My favourite Yoga pose for destressifying is ‘Legs up the Wall’. It’s very calming for the nervous system. You literally just put your legs up the wall! Your arms can be in any comfortable position and put a cushion or blanket under your hips for extra comfort. Combine it with box breathing for an uber destressifying effect!
I’ve been taking some time recently to do some further trainings, look at new venues for up coming events I would like to run and update my website with my coaching packages. I’m not quite there yet with it all and I’m trying not to stress about it! An affirmation I use often when I feel myself getting stressed because I’m not going as fast as I think I ‘should’ be is..
“I only go as fast as the slowest parts of me will go”
So how’s your stress levels? How do you like to de-stress? Let me know in the comments below!