When you think of stress there is a stigma of it being a negative state of emotion or tension in our body.
I challenge you now to reconsider this perspective.
Although we do not have the stresses of being chased around by a lion, which was the original purpose in cave man time, stress is actually beneficial.
Stress helps us work faster, harder and more efficient, helping us perform at our best.
This is feasible for short periods.
However stress can become overwhelming and debilitating.
No more stress
There is no such thing as having no stress, but the best way to manage stress is with a toolbox of different skills.
These may assist you in different ways to tackle stress, whether it is re-conceptualising a stressful situation, being able to remove yourself from a stressor or prevention strategies to be more capable of dealing with stress.
As we brush our teeth everyday to prevent plaque formation, a daily mental health routine can assist us in dealing with unanticipated stressors that occur.
Pressing the stop button… being able to remove yourself from a stressful situation.
Now take a deep breath in for the count of three and be aware of where the tension is in your body. Feel your tummy distend and fill with air as you let it swirl around for a second. Then slowly exhale for 4-6 seconds as your become aware of letting go of any tension in your body. Repeat this for 1-2mintues.
Controlled breathing is one of the most effective ways to become mindful and grounded in the present state. Schedule a session at least once a day or even better in the morning, afternoon and evening.
There is a great free app that guides you through mindfulness called Smiling Mind, definitely worth checking out!
Removing yourself by listening to your favorite music or patting a pet – whatever your happy place is can help to indulge in for a few minutes when you are feeling the pinch of stress (Smiling Mind, 2018).
To prevent stress lifestyle modifications and changing your habits of sleep and exercise are essential. There is an abundant research which details a positive relationship for mental health, stress reduction and better coping strategies for those who achieve the recommended dose of daily exercise (150mintues of moderate exercise a week).
Sleep has massive ramifications on your immune system and morale. It is when your body has the opportunity to heal, reset and is essential for revitalizing the accumulated potential neurotoxic waste in the brain that occurs during being awake (The Department of Health, 2017).
Scheduling in a routine for your exercise and determining a regular bedtime is the best way to ensure success.
Reconceptualization of stress or cognitive behavioral therapy.
Ones perception of a situation and the associated weight of expectations from other individuals, themselves and their capabilities are all ingrained in us by our experiences and values. This is consequently why this is the hardest tool as it is a habit that needs to be broken. It requires removing yourself from the situation and assessing the factual consequences rather than perceptions.
Tackling these hurdles to actively solve the situation is a lot more feasible than dealing with perceptions and wasting energy catastrophising on hypotheticals. The more we reinforce the feasibility of a positive outcome the more positive we can become about our ability to confront stressors (Beyond Blue, 2018).
I know it is easier said then done, but you will exceed your expectations in your capabilities to tackle stress. My favorite expression I utilise to assist me is to ‘follow your plan and not your mood’, it helps me check in and make choices not based on my emotional state.
Hopefully these are all helpful skills you can utilise to tackle the stresses in your life. However there are some fantastic resources and specialized physicians including psychologists whom are compassionate and perceptive to your individualised concerns.
Do not be afraid to reach out even if it is your support systems of family and friends or services like Beyond Blue and Lifeline.
So what is your next step for a healthier state of mind?
Lauren Mutton, myPhysioSA Physiotherapist Mount Barker
For more information please visit:
The Department of Health, 2017, ‘Physical Activity’, Australian Government – Department of Health, Accessed: 17/7/18, <http://www.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/content/phy-activity>.
Beyond Blue, 2018, ‘Managing emotions and stress’, Beyond Blue, Accessed: 17/7/18, <https://healthyfamilies.beyondblue.org.au/age-13/raising-resilient-young-people/managing-emotions-and-stress>.
Smiling Mind, 2018, ‘Evidence based guidelines for mindfulness in schools’, Smiling Mind, Accessed: 18/7/18, <https://view.publitas.com/smiling-mind/mindfulnessguidelines/page/1>.