4 steps to less everyday stress

4 Schritte zu weniger Alltagsstress

Can we anticipate and prepare for stressful situations?

Can we avoid stress? At least part of it?

Can we develop a stress toolbox to help us in stressful situations?

Yes. To 100%.

So, are you ready to fill your stress toolbox with the best tools to combat stress?

Step 1: Accept that stress is natural and can be good for us

The first step is to accept that stress is a natural and unavoidable feature of life and can actually have a positive impact on our daily and long-term growth and resilience.

However, this comes with a caveat: stress can be good for us if we are able to contain and manage it.

The net impact of stress depends on our understanding of stress, our relationship to it, and how well we are able to balance good and bad stress.

Good stress drives us forward. It gives us meaning and helps us find things meaningful and challenging. Good stress leads to fulfillment.

Bad stress slows us down and tires us out. It is overwhelming and confusing and messes with our priorities. Bad stress leads to exhaustion and illness.

Step 2: Understanding Stress Flow States & Our Nervous System

Ok, the first step is acceptance. Stress is here to stay.

The second step: awareness. When we understand the basics of stress, we can begin to understand how to block it and how to prepare.

We are designed to see and respond to stress in our environment. And our body's stress response helps with this.

There are two types of voltage flow states.

Stress-Flow State Example #1

Stress flows into our body from the environment, stress is sensed by the body, we react, we eliminate the stress, and it flows through us.

Examples: We see a bear in the wild, we get cut off while driving, we get into an argument with a loved one.

Stress-Flow State Example #2

We create a stressor within ourselves, stress is perceived by the body, we react, we fight to eliminate the stressor because we create it ourselves, but the stress still flows.

For example: we are in a meeting at work or in a conversation with a colleague or watching the news, we hear something that we don't like, we start to imagine some scenarios that may or may not happen and increase stress further. When internal stress increases, it flows from us into the environment. All before we really know what's happening.

The amazing thing about stress and our bodies: We are in control, not the stress.

How does stress affect our nervous system?

The nervous system is a physical thing, a real thing that exists in our body. It is influenced by what is happening elsewhere in our body and by our environment. The nervous system influences how we feel physically and in turn affects every little corner of our body. It is connected to all of our organs, it monitors our heart rate, it causes butterflies in our stomach, it interprets sensations and emotions and perceptions.

The nervous system is an incredible network of highways, streets, one-way streets, dead ends, alleys, sidewalks, and more.

This may feel like old news, but it's important to acknowledge and reinforce this fact because it puts us in the driver's seat.

When we understand that the nervous system is within us, we begin to understand that we are in control, we have agency, we can influence what the nervous system does, and we can use it to uplift our bodies and energize ourselves or we can use it to relax and calm our body.

We cannot control our environment or external stimuli or even our reactions to any of this up to a certain point. But we can control our nervous system.

Most people think that they cannot control their nervous system.

We talked a little about inhaling as an accelerator and exhaling as a brake.

When you understand that you have the ability to control your nervous system, you have just solved the puzzle and put your hands on the steering wheel.

We are ready to take our bodies for a relaxation ride.

When we drive, we are constantly scanning the external environment and the road in front of us for signs, potential hazards, necessary turns, pedestrians, and more.

But we also need to scan the internal dashboard to make sure we are driving at the right speed, that we have enough fuel and that the check engine light is not on.

Many of us only scan the external environment because this is the area outside of our control that triggers fear. We cannot predict with certainty what might happen down the road. We believe that we are exposed to the events of the world around us. So we focus a lot of our attention on the outside.

But by scanning our internal systems and paying attention to our dashboard, we can take control of stressful situations. And get better at anticipating and dealing with stress before it becomes overwhelming.

Step 3: Intervene & prevent stress

There are some very basic, universal things we can all rely on when those stressful moments present themselves.

Do you need immediate intervention?

Pay attention to your breathing, slow your exhalation, and turn off your body's stress response.

Feeling stuck?

Get up, go outside, walk around, look up.

When we can accept that we are stressed, we make progress.

If we can say to ourselves, I'm not a stressed, anxious person, I'm just experiencing a stressful situation, we can begin to separate ourselves from the stressors.

If we can ask ourselves some of these questions, we can identify both conscious and unconscious sources of stress and then prepare for stress:

  • How do I sleep?
  • When was the last time I went for a walk?
  • When was the last time I wrote down my stressors?
  • Did I drink water?
  • What did I eat?
  • Do I have a plan for today? Morning?
  • How do I talk to myself?
  • How do I talk to others?
  • Do I rely on an escape like video games, alcohol, drugs?
  • When was the last time I called or met a friend?
  • What does my stress want to tell me?

If we make these steps a habit, we can avoid stress and be much better prepared to deal with stress when it arises.

Step 4: Prepare with load adjustments

There are these universal resources we can all turn to when stress takes over.

There are these universal things we can all do consistently to avoid stress, like: B. Keep a diary, exercise, breathe, take a cold shower and more.

But then there are also these very personal, very specific things that we like to do that can help us deal with stress. Let's call these load adjustments.

If we can anticipate stress, prepare for it, and accept stress consistently, we can control it and use it to our advantage.

Imagine your body as a house.

You can't knock down the walls or get rid of the roof, but you can move some things around and make some adjustments.

You can change the color, leave the doors and windows open, turn the lights on and off, buy new lights, sit on the couch or lie in bed or go for a walk in the garden or go on a cruise.

By paying attention to where stress appears and where it recedes, we can make specific daily adjustments that help us deal with stress more efficiently.

Maybe you like puzzles, music, or video games. Maybe you like a good nap, maybe you read, maybe you sip coffee and space out. Whatever this stress adaptation is, get really good at it and make it a part of your daily routine, which will help you prepare for the stress.

Control stress without thinking

The hōki is a simple and effective stress reduction tool that immediately and consistently switches the switch to relaxation. Exhaling with the shift switches off the stress response in your body.

Cover photo shot by Jared Rice. Downloaded from Unsplash here .

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