Stress is a word often used quite freely. For more people, Stress is the feeling of being overwhelmed or unable to cope with mental or emotional pressure. I wonder whether we need to start talking about stress differently and deepen the conversation so each one of us can explore what stress really is for them. Life will never be completely stress-free, but we can spend less time with that stress response switched on.
The extent to which stress impacts our lives is hard to measure. This is more true than ever in the face of the COVID-19 crisis. Not sure of the exact stats but a lot of people say the coronavirus pandemic is a significant source of stress in their lives. Although levels of stress have increased globally in the past few years, the conversation around stress is growing. And with this growing conversation comes more insight into the causes of stress and how we experience stress differently.
You may think of stress as simply a feeling of being overwhelmed. But there are different types of stress, each with its own physical and mental consequences.
Stress is our psychological and physiological reaction to an event or condition that is considered a threat or challenge.
We most commonly refer to stress as a feeling of emotional pressure and strain when we feel unable to cope or are overwhelmed by something.
When we experience stress, our bodies react by releasing a surge of chemicals and hormones throughout our bodies. This triggers the fight-or-flight response that many of us are familiar with.
But it also affects numerous other systems within us, including our metabolism, memory, and immune system.
I believe that if we understand things like stress better then we will have a better chance of making positive changes, although remember my message is always one small thing at a time.
Let’s have a look at some of the ways that our behaviours affect stress.
Some people are of the idea that when you have a long list of things to accomplish, overwhelm or not, you push, struggle, and work till everything is done. For some this approach works well and things do get completed although not always in a timely manner. The process of working through a list is often totally draining and painful both in the brain and the body. If you do keep pushing on until the list is complete, there is often a crash and burn, or that awful feeling of never actually finishing it.
There is another way of getting things done without the struggle and stress.
The first difference is that once you are hit with the feeling of overwhelm, you must stop and take out time to step back and not work!
Yes, I said it…pausing or even stopping what you are doing, despite how busy you are is critical. If you don’t stop when you get these feelings, you are likely to be in your emotional brain. Here we are less logical, rational and there is a high chance that you will start to catastrophize.
For some this feels impossible when you are in the thick of overwhelm, but I tell you it’s the most effective and efficient way out to stop the crazy train. As always, your goal is to do anything you can to feel better.
Literally take yourself off for a drink, look out the window, go outside if you can, ring a friend for a chat or if you have animals spend a bit of time with them. This will ground you to the moment and help you to settle yourself.
The key is to do anything that will unwind your overwhelm, not feed it. Take a break to allow things to settle down in your brain and energy. Once you are calmer and more relaxed, you will naturally be inspired to take the next best right step toward getting things completed.
Taking a real step back from chaos in the brain allows true creativity and inspiration to bubble up and come forward. Unfortunately you simply can’t access the really good stuff you want from stress and struggle. It’s simply not possible.
So what is the one small thing that you can do differently when you are feeling it, is to remember of course the first thing is actually to notice that you feel overwhelmed. Working with clients 1:1 allows me to hear lots of different ways and approaches that they come up with, and over the years I have definitely adopted some myself.
For me chunking tasks down and having a today list rather than a to do list are my savers! What are yours, please share them with us. We can always learn from each other.
Music is a power tool to me but it can be used as a therapeutic tool to not only reduce stress, but to also promote healing and improve one’s overall emotional well-being.
It literally has restorative benefits against depression and anxiety. Different uses may include listening to music, playing a musical instrument, singing along to music and using guided imagery with music.
Music can make us feel good. There is solid evidence that music stimulates the production of dopamine, the “feel good” hormone in our bodies.
I was reading a study from 2011 and they found that through the use of functional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), dopamine increased in the brain when listeners experienced positive emotions in the same areas of the brain where pleasure is experienced when food and other sorts of cravings are satisfied. These findings shed light on why music has played such a significant role shaping culture and is a source of pleasure for human beings throughout our history. Music is an integral part of life’s milestones and just about every significant life event across cultures, including weddings, birthday celebrations, funerals and religious activities.
In addition to helping human beings experience positive emotions, listening to music has also been associated with improving our physical health and well-being.
There is good reason to believe that even more benefits are gained from music therapy when it is used not as a random activity, but as an intentional strategy to improve health and well-being.
It has been proved that listening to music while taking a break reduces the prevalence of stress and burn out.
Music is a powerful tool that can switch off the stress response and in turn improve our emotional health. Whether one listens to, plays or sings doesn’t matter. All of it has proven benefits.
Music can be an extremely useful tool for all of us for stress relief since it is free or low-cost and readily available through a vast array of digital outlets. Any activity we engage in can be mindful and music provides the ultimate outlet to get lost or immerse oneself in something other than the thoughts in one’s head. Anyone can put a playlist together on their devices with music that aids in stress reduction;
What’s on your stress reducing playlist?
Frequently, stress at work comes from having too much to do at once. Instead, try batching your workload and completing one thing at a time. You are sure to do your best work.
Mindfulness creates centred awareness. When you do one thing at a time, you’re guaranteed excellent results. If you do too many things simultaneously, it messes up your neural circuits. Focus on one thing at a time.
– Deepak Chopra