Stress gets a bad rap. Most times when people mention stress…being stressed…something being stressful…it’s used in a tone which indicates stress is bad and that’s actually a falsehood.
Not all stress is bad!
We actually need stress in our lives but just like anything else, we need it in moderation. Stress actually serves a very good purpose and can help keep us excited, motivated and safe. We’ve all heard the term “fight or flight” which is critical to survival. Stress is our internal alarm system that notifies us to either flee a situation and get to safety or prepare to defend ourselves.
Are you the type of person who actually works best under pressure? The stress of meeting a deadline can propel us to be uber productive. The stress of an upcoming event often motivates us to make changes we’ve been putting off – such as starting an exercise program or begin to embrace healthy eating.
The key to stress is to keep it in check. There is a fine line between healthy stress and harmful stress. The recent article in Men’s Fitness magazine, “When Stress Doesn’t Suck” states:
“Americans are starved for stress salves. As of 2009, Americans spent an estimated $14 billion on stress-relief products. And according to a 2012 report by the World Health Organization, job and workplace-related stress annually costs American industries upwards of $300 billion.”
That’s a lot of stress! So what can we do to keep our stress in check?
With all the technological advances, it’s not surprising that there are many ways to monitor our stress with the help of gadgets. Here is a peek at one such product (and no, I’m not an affiliate), Spire.
According to the website, Spire can actually sense when you’re stressed and send you gentle reminders to calm down and breath. It’s a proven fact, by taking back control of your breathing; you can positively affect blood pressure and reduce tension. Gadgets, such as Spire and many others, can actually determine when you’re calm or stressed and provide tips and exercises to help keep your tension in check.
There are also old-school gadget-free techniques that are extremely effective in reducing stress. First, we need to be in tune with our bodies. The body is an amazing machine that has all kinds of bells and whistles to notify us when something isn’t right and needs our attention. Physical signs such as diarrhea, nausea, sweaty palms, headaches, muscle tension, change in breathing, grinding your teeth and clenching your jaw are all signs that your stress level has crossed over from the healthy stress to the harmful stress.
Our mind also gives very strong clues that our stress is rising. Negative thoughts, trouble concentrating, becoming cranky, irritable, short-tempered, feeling overwhelmed, and sweating the small stuff are all stress-indicators.
It’s not enough to just recognize the signs of stress. You have to take action. Most people don’t take action because they don’t feel they have time, especially if they’re at work. Not true! Small actions that can be done without interrupting your day (1 – 5 minutes) can make a big difference.
- Get a move on: Stand up and walk around for a quick change of scenery and mind purging
- Talk to yourself: positive self-talk or repeating an affirmation really works
- Strike a pose: Holding a yoga pose for 60 seconds does the body good. Find 3 poses and do them in a series. Within 3 minutes, your mind and body will thank you.
- Air and water: Close your eyes and practice deep breathing for 3 minutes. Stand up, stretch, and follow that with a big glass of refreshing water.
- Take a break: Grab a magazine or book and read. Let your mind get lost and disconnect from the tasks at hand.
Incorporating mind, body, and soul practices each morning will get your day started off on the right foot and help curb the stress peaks throughout your day. Principle 8: Develop a Spiritual Practice, is a quick read with great tips on how to use daily meditation, yoga, prayer, breathing exercises, journaling, and other ideas to help bring peace into your life.
You can’t control what life throws your way but you can control how we deal with it. It’s all in your hands; preventing stress, recognizing when it has bullied its way into your life, and taking action.
I’d love to hear your methods for nipping stress in the bud. Join me over on Facebook and let’s chat.