If you look back over the past week at your conversations with friends, colleagues and loved ones, when you asked how they are, how many of them responded with: "Urgh, stressed…"?
We have information overload at the touch of a button on our phones and can check social media, voicemails and emails in an instant; we can be contactable 24/7. So it’s not surprising people are feeling more and more stressed, unable to switch off and unable to find their balance.
Stress is what gets body and mind into 'fight-or-flight' mode, the body releasing stress hormones, including cortisol, to gear the body up to handle an emergency. People under chronic stress have cortisol pouring into the bloodstream all the time. No wonder they don’t feel so good.
Noticing that you're 'stressed' can be good as it's a signal that something is in need of change.Jacqueline Hurst
Many people talk about stress manifesting in physical illness such as getting regular infections, colds and flu, headaches and sometimes even aches and pains. Sleep patterns can also be disrupted and insomnia is an obvious red flag, but if you start waking early when you’re still tired, that’s a sign of anxiety, too.
As a life coach, I believe stress is actually 'mental', resulting in the physical. Not the other way around. It’s about the mind first. I teach my clients and students that stress can be banished from your life by learning how to think right. Getting a handle on stress is relatively simple, so here are some ways you can do it.
Sometimes it's good to take a step back and ask yourself: "Is that going to make any difference in 10 years’ time?" Ninety per cent of the time, the answer is no. Put the issue you face into perspective, accepting that most things we worry about aren’t life-or-death issues. Try to mentally shrink what’s worrying you and it won’t seem like such a big deal after all.
Balance your expectations
Many of us place sky-high expectations on ourselves – way higher than we would for anyone else. Whatever it is you are stressed about, ask yourself how you would talk to a friend in the same position. Would you be yelling at her that she will never get it sorted out or is an idiot to have got into this situation, or would you treat her with kindness and love? Treat yourself nicely and be kind with your thoughts, and the stress will slip away.
Noticing that you are ‘stressed’ can actually be good for you, because it’s a signal that you can either carry on doing what you are doing and getting the same results, or that something in your life is in need of change. I think the best way to look at stress being good for you is that it is simply a signal for change.
Small changes can yield big results
First of all, our thoughts rule how we feel. It’s important to understand that how we think creates our feelings, so if we are feeling stressed, we have to start thinking about things differently.
The truth is that none of us were taught how to 'think' or deal with our emotions at school, and yet this is so important to understand fully that our thoughts create how we feel.
If you are stressed, the first thing to do is start by writing down your thoughts – get it out of your head and onto paper.
Jacqueline Hurst is a master life coach. Visit jacquelinehurst.com or thelifeclass.com
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