How to deal with stress (workshop and webinar summary)
Insights from a workshop on stress I went to a couple of weeks ago and a hypnotherapy webinar on ways to deal with stress:
We’ve all experienced the unpleasant feeling of feeling stressed and often want to be rid of the fight-or-flight response it induces in our bodies. Stress, however, is a good thing (at least temporarily) because it warns us that something is wrong. The way we react to stress is the silent killer (not the stress itself). Stress is caused by pain which tells us that there is something we need to change. If the pain (stress) continues, it tells us there is something we need to learn.
This makes sense, right? The stress of procrastinating tells us that we need to focus and start revising for that upcoming exam. Speaking from personal experience, the stress of sub-optimal living arrangements which were affecting my mental (and physical) health was telling me that I needed to find somewhere else to live. But perhaps we’ve not always viewed stress in this light.
One major source of stress revolves around our identity, which is influenced by how other people see us and the external labels from others may sometimes lead to a negative and limited version of ourselves. However, if we see ourselves through the eyes of others, we try to be who others want us to be (rather than who we really are). How often do we do something just to please others or to influence their perception of us, even when it is of detriment to ourselves? In order to free ourselves from fear and stress, we need to find out what our values are and therefore who we really are.
Action plan to relax more and maintain well-being
- Observe your thoughts
- Accept they are your creation
- Respond – Change your thinking
We also need to talk about stress differently; to see it as an opportunity or challenge to be overcome rather than a disaster (we can still acknowledge the intensity of the feeling by labelling it as irritating or vexing). Depending on the source of stress, we nearly always have a choice: to deal with it or feel bad about it. The way we think determines the quality of our lives. Where our attention goes, energy flows and where energy flows, life grows. We should not let in negative energy; the best revenge, after all, is to be happy and to like ourselves. Therefore, negative thoughts should be given short shrift and be treated like uninvited house guests (told to go away and/or shooed out the door!) and positive ones invited in instead.
That which we take in will come out in one way or another sooner or later (take in positivity and it will come out). Our output is the result of our input so let’s make the first thought of the day a positive one so that it sets the tone for the rest of the day. It’s important to be aware that our subconscious records everything we say because it is always switched on, so feed it with positive messages.
Besides our thoughts, if we’re overwhelmed and our minds are racing too much for us to be able to slow them down, there are physical ways of dealing with stress because ultimately, mind and body are closely connected and nowhere can this connection be seen (or felt) more clearly than under conditions of stress. One thing that commonly happens during stress is that our mouths become dry. As strange as it may sound, if we fill our mouths with saliva and swirl it around out mouths, this will send a signal to our bodies that there is a not a threat on the horizon. Similarly, relaxing our shoulders (keeping them down) has the same effect. Finally, when animals experience a stressful event (think an antelope being chased by and narrowly escaping a lion), they often shake in the aftermath in order to release muscle tension and return the body to its normal homeostasis. Although shaking is usually a cue to others that shows a state of extreme nervousness, it is good for our bodies! It helps us to recalibrate our nervous systems ........Taylor Swift was right after all - we just need to ‘shake it off, shake it off…..’.