Stress – It doesn’t need an introduction.
It is spreading around the world like an epidemic… The chances are you have been affected by it in your life… Almost all of us have.
High levels of stress release a hormone called Serotonin in your body.
This hormone creates the ‘fight or flight’ sensation – It is a part of our biology, so when we are presented with real danger, our bodies and mind are ready to fight off the danger or run away from it. It was only designed to be used infrequently and in moments of life threatening danger.
This hormone, when activated, switches off all none essential functions in your body.
Here are some of the things that get switched off when you feel stressed:
Your immune system
Your digestive system
Your memory retrieval
Your physical growth
As you can clearly see, these elements are critical factors in the long-term ability to be a healthy human being.
When we understand that high stress causes high levels of Serotonin to be pumped through our bodies, all of the time, it’s easy to identify why stress is literally killing us.
“No amount of anxiety can change the future. No amount of regret can change the past.”
If you, like me, have been affected by stress, here are 4 simple ideas that can help:
Remove yourself from the situation
The power of physically removing yourself from the situation and going for a walk… in nature if possible…. cannot be underestimated. The act of getting away, even just for half an hour, acts as an emotional and intellectual reset.
Give your brain some air and some space.
The fact of the matter is your brain can answer any question you give it… what you need to do is ensure you are asking the right questions. When you are in the moment, with all the stress factors surrounding you, it is difficult to know what the right questions are… never mind try to answer them.
Go for a walk in nature. Give your mind some time, space and air. Just enjoy the experience. When you return, you will feel less stressed – therefore will have ‘switched on’ those internal systems you need, like creativity.
Here is my challenge to you – if you think this strategy is just wishful thinking or that you don’t have the time – then test it… go for a one hour walk in nature today… what have you got to lose?
If I am right… imagine what you might gain.
Focus on what is REALLY important
Stress, in the main, is caused by lots of little things that all feel very urgent.
We often mistake urgency for importance and therefore are bound to feel stressed, because pretty much everything is urgent these days!
There is a theory that 20% of the tasks you have to do in any given situation, will deliver 80% of the results you desire. So… if you have a ‘To-Do list’ of 10 actions, 2 of these will deliver 80% of the results you want… leaving the other 8 actions with only 20% of the outcome you need.
Do you know what the 20% of important actions are in your life? Because when you do, and once you take action on them, 80% of your stress will be removed.
Take some time out to figure out what is the most important 20% in your life – then start taking action towards these things first.
Take action, even when you don’t feel like it
“There is just so much to do…. I don’t know where to start.”
I hear this so often when working with people under high levels of stress. The bottom line is, this approach is not serving you.
Taking action will serve you.
If you have managed to identify the important 20%, then work on this… but even if you haven’t – start taking action… any action is better than no action at all.
When we are stressed, we don’t see the value in the small steps forward – we want a magic wand to sort it all out. Unfortunately, there is no magic wand and there is rarely a quick fix.
Think of this metaphor… The person is who wants to lose weight and get fit.
If this person goes on the scales after one gym session and a healthy breakfast, they will be disappointed… there won’t be any difference. In fact they probably still won’t notice a difference after a week of gym sessions and healthy eating either.
But those little actions DO make a difference… In fact they make ALL the difference!
Do you think that person will notice a difference after two weeks? A little maybe… how about a month? How about a year?
Of course there will be a massive difference – It is simple, but true.
This is the same with stress.
Take positive action consistently. You might not notice the difference immediately… but over time the transformation will become dramatic!
So, when you don’t know what action to take or don’t feel like taking action is worth it… do it anyway. Keep on taking positive action everyday.
Soon those small actions will build momentum – and momentum will make you unstoppable!
Create and use a support network
You are not alone.
You are not the only person to have experienced this level of stress.
Don’t face it alone. Today we are more connected than ever before, so we should use this to our advantage! Connect with other people who are facing similar struggles… or even better, connect with those that have overcome them!
Together we are stronger.
Seek out like-minded people who can support you, who can challenge you and who will need you to do the same. There are so many sources of information, inspiration, groups, coaches, networks out there – use them.
The strength of knowing that you are not alone, the power you gain from knowing that it can be overcome is immeasurable. You have access to this at your finger-tips:
Watch inspirational videos
Join discussion groups
Meet with follow professionals in your sector
Get a coach
Get a mentor
The list goes on…. just get some support!
Putting it all together:
Stress stops everything. It stops important internal processes and it stops you making good decisions and taking positive action.
Don’t let it. You can take control… Remove yourself from the situation, get some fresh air and fresh perspective. Work out what 20% of tasks you need to do to remove 80% of the stress levels.
TAKE ACTION and build momentum… And finally don’t forget to get some support – You are better working with others, allow yourself to be the best version of you.