With National Stress Awareness Day coming up on Wednesday 4th November, Tara Best, Mindset and Neuro-Linguistic Programming practitioner has shared her tried-and-tested stress-prevention techniques.
Stress. We all experience it. It can be caused by different things and affect us in different ways, but it is a universal affliction which has many varying symptoms. It’s so widespread that there’s even a national day to recognise it, established by the International Stress Management Association (ISMA).
What is stress?
Stress is an unhealthy biological state caused by an individual lacking the capacity to cope with pressures they are under. Being under stress causes the body to release three hormones: adrenaline, norepinephrine, and cortisol.
While these hormones are all vital for immediate reactions to pressured situations, long-term stress can lead to persistent elevated hormone levels, which in turn can cause health problems. Too-high levels of stress hormones can cause anxiety, decrease immunity, increase blood pressure and blood sugars, insomnia and more. You’ll also find it much harder to focus, be productive and enjoy your life if the stress takes control.
It’s vital to ensure your stress levels don’t become overwhelming and unmanageable, as this is where long-term problems and struggles can occur.
Tara’s top five stress-prevention techniques;
Stress-prevention techniques – Start your day the right way.
Implement a morning routine to set yourself up for stress-free success. If you can identify the things which are playing on your mind, you can set some positive affirmations to counteract the feeling that you tell yourself each morning. This will help you to start each day on a positive note, providing you with a rock-solid mindset that will help you make better, more informed decisions throughout your day, equipping you to deal with any stressful situations that come your way with a clear, positive outlook.
Stress-prevention techniques – Recognise your stress triggers.
Is there something or someone that particularly increases your pressure levels? Where possible, avoid these situations, however, sometimes we have to face them head on. In these situations it’s very important to ensure you have the skillset and tools to manage your stress levels.
Breathing properly (slow, deep breaths) is a really good way of calming yourself down. When we’re stressed our breathing becomes short and shallow, which in turn puts physical pressure on our bodies which increases adrenaline levels. The simple act of breathing deeply sends a message to your brain to relax and calm down, helping you to stay calm in stressful situations.
Stress-prevention techniques – Journal throughout your day.
Journaling is a great exercise to help you get your thoughts out of your head and on to paper. Sometimes the simple act of getting them in a different format can help you see how to move forwards and recognise that the stress trigger isn’t as bad as you first thought.
Stress-prevention techniques – Play a calming song.
This is one that always works. Music offers such a powerful way to help you change your state. Slow, calming, classical music can slow the pulse and heart rate, lower your blood pressure and decrease the number of stress hormones produced. Combine that with slow, deep breathing and you’ll soon feel much more relaxed.
Stress-prevention techniques – Distract yourself.
If you find that you are being plagued by repetitive stressful thoughts, take a step back and distract yourself until you feel calm enough to deal with them. Activities such as colouring or cooking demand a level of concentration which removes focus from the stress trigger and symptoms. There’s been a boom in people enjoying these kinds of hobbies, especially as our ‘always on’ culture has increased.
Stress-prevention techniques – Give yourself 2 minutes.
Sometimes we need to recognise the trigger and deal with it, before we can move on. But that feeling can be all too consuming sometimes, so it can be beneficial to allow yourself just 2 minutes to experience those feelings before you choose to snap yourself out of it.
Stress can be debilitating and overwhelming, but if you can recognise your feelings and triggers, and put simple practices into place to cope and reduce the stressful feelings, you can learn to manage it.
Remember, a little bit of stress can be good, too much is definitely not, being aware of yourself and embracing some self-kindness will go a long way.
Tara is a Business Coach, specialising in Mindset and Marketing, she runs a PR and marketing agency, Tara Punter PR, as well as hosting a weekly podcast Tara Talks, aimed at people who want to develop a positive mindset.