When stress takes over your mind, sometimes it can feel like there’s no stopping it. It comes in many different forms; you might not be able to eat (or you might eat too much.) You might not be able to sleep (or you might sleep too much.) No matter how stress grips you personally, it’s always good to remind yourself that stress is a form of psychological pain.
Plenty of chemicals in the body start to kick in as a reaction to whatever has caused the stress. Hormones like adrenaline, cortisol and norepinephrine are all released to prepare your body for a physical reaction. Your body’s natural instinct is basically going into survival mode, rallying all your troops for battle.
This is obviously a really helpful and healthy response if you’re suddenly faced head-on with an angry lion who is ready to fight you. The chances are though, that if you’re reading this, your stressful feelings are most likely not the result of a pending lion attack. It’s probably something that’s a lot more manageable.
In our everyday life, there are plenty of different stresses we face. Careers, relationships and social lives all have a part to play in making you feel like you’re in charge of a huge balancing act. At some point, it feels, something’s got to give.
Meditation techniques, getting a good night’s sleep and generally practicing self-care methods are all useful ways of de-stressing but sometimes, it isn’t enough. You’re left at a loose end, tearing out your hair and not able to sit still.
So how about, you think of it like this: stress is a form of energy in the body. If you can manipulate that energy by channelling it into something helpful rather than hindering, you use the stress to directly deal with the situation you’re in. Here’s what we mean.
Recognise your Potential Energy
All this stress you’re feeling is energy within your body. Although it feels negative right now, remember that it’s yours to control. Your energy is powerful and telling yourself that is a step in the right direction to taking control. Stress is a reaction to a situation. So, rather than using your energy up on the stress, use it on solving the situation. Recite affirmations and tell yourself that you are going to use your power to solve the problem rather than focus on the reaction.
Suggested read: What’s in Your Stress Bucket? The Stress Bucket Model
Pinpoint your Stress
Write down your feelings in a journal or on paper to assess which problems are material and which are immaterial. You’re most likely worried about something that might happen. Write down the facts of what has actually happened so far. If the thing you’re worried about has not yet happened, tell yourself that you will worry about it when it does. Focus on what is concrete and what you can do to make the best possible outcome.
Realign your Attention
If something disastrous, upsetting or unmanageable has happened to cause you stress, think about where you can channel your stress to turn it into strength. If you tell your mind that you are doomed or that this is the worst thing that could possibly happen, you’re feeding your stressful mind. Instead, try to feed a calming mind by giving your attention only to the positive and how you can solve the problem.
Focus on the Controllable
There are many things completely out of our control and there are many things that we think are out of our control but aren’t. Reactions are something that, with practice, are fully within our control, should we choose to believe it. If something has happened that has caused you stress, focus on how you are going to move forward. Focus on the words you tell yourself and focus on how you’re dealing with it. You don’t need to give any more attention to the thing that has happened; instead give your attention to solving it.
Look for a Positive Spin
There is a positive spin for absolutely every situation. It could be the worst thing that’s ever happened but if you look hard enough, you will find a positive spin. Choose to focus on the good, even if the only good thing is that you’ve learnt this lesson.