Thursday, January 7, 2010

Stress and how to deal with it!

I thought it might be useful to look a bit closer at the whole question of stress.

Stress is a response we have evolved and developed over millions of years so it is with us to stay and is not 'just' imagination.

Cortisole is produced in the adrenal gland and as many know adrenaline is the most powerful of stress responses to be used in fight or flight. However adrenaline is not useful for longer term 'stresses' or what could be termed challenges, as it causes an immediate physiological response.

Cortisole is triggered by our brain dealing with input from both bio-feedback mechanisms in the body and by stimulus from outside changing the way we think. To explain further if you are hungry that is a bio-feedback it is telling you to start thinking about finding some food. If you don't cortisole is employed to start providing the body with more glucose.

However it is quite possible to trigger the stress response by the way we 'choose to think'. If we go to the supermarket and find the shelves empty even though we may just have eaten it is likely that there will be a stress response because we are thinking forward about how we might have no food to eat!

Often we stress ourselves through our own imaginings. If loved one is late home we imagine flashing blue lights and emergency rooms much more than we do seeing them enjoying themselves and losing track of time!

So this is the easiest 'stress relief' tip you will ever get! If you find yourself stressed, ask yourself this simple question 'How can I think about this differently'. There are several sub-strategies that I know work or you can make them up as you go along. What you do does not really matter as long as you can change your focus and the way you are thinking.

My chosen response to stress is always to develop a strategy to deal with whatever it is. This winds my OH up no end!!!

When I ran training I used to invite people to write down all of the 'work stuff' that was running around in their heads, you know all the stuff which is 'crucial' (not!) and would if I left it there distract them all day. I then got them to seal it in an envelope and sign the back. They then gave the envelope to someone else in the group they trusted or to me. At the end of the day they got them back.
What this did was dump that stuff for the period of the training but they knew they would have it back at the end of the day. I have though had people at the end of the training say they would not bother taking the envelope back!!

Others quite rightly suggest distraction. If you are stressing over something you probably have too much 'thinking time' on your hands. Go do something else. Listen to some music on headphones, do the ironing, go for a walk with your OH there are thousands of things.
The point is that in modern life many of our stresses are very perceptual.

The great thing is that if you change the thinking you change your bodies physiological response. For instance it is known that laughter decreases cortisole levels in the blood stream! So put a Blackadder DVD on (it always makes me laugh!).

Of course exercise is without doubt a really really good way of getting rid of stress.
Once you have done it once notice what difference it made, how and where your body felt difference.

Stress is natural, in fact it could be argued it is an essential part of being human, it is how we DEAL with it that will determine if you are it's mater or it's slave.

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