Every week we seem to hear about someone who is suffering from stress. It is becoming more widespread as the pressures and demands of modern living takes its toll.
Stress can originate anywhere and the causes are numerous. Rushing in the morning for work, bills in the post, poor relationships, traffic hold-ups, being late for meetings, criticism, pressure, lack of appreciation or understanding the list goes on and on.
What is stressful for one person may be perfectly acceptable to another, indeed some people seem to thrive on stress and others seem to go to pieces over the slightest little thing. Stress, it seems, is not triggered by an actual event, but how we as an individual react to that event. The situation that makes us feel stressed one day could have no impact the next. More usual though, is that there is a gradual build up of stress, which may or may not, eventually exceed personal tolerance levels.
Not all stress is bad, we need a certain amount of it to motivate us, to get the best out of us. Without stress we can become apathetic, lethargic, lazy. Stress is activating. It's all a case of balance.
There are two main types of stress, Eustress is the positive and Distress of course, the negative. There is also Post Traumatic Stress, which, as its name suggests, can occur as a consequence of a past traumatic experience.
You might feel yourself to be under constant pressure and unable to cope with the demands of today's hectic lifestyle. It seems strange that when we have so many time-saving, labour saving devices, washing machines, microwaves, tumble dryers, dishwashers, fast cars, to name but a few, many of us still find it difficult to enjoy quality time doing what we really want to do. How much time have we actually gained from these inventions? When we do have the spare time, how many of us feel guilty when we are inactive or doing something for ourselves?
Many people today are suffering from 'information overload' too much information for the brain to cope with. We wake up with fuzzy heads and we go to bed with fuzzy heads. Some companies put undue pressure on their employees; performance, productivity, profit the competition is fierce and we must all pull our weight or face the consequences.
Primitive man was governed by the need to hunt for food and the animal body is designed to act or react as in the 'fight or flight' response. When faced with danger the blood flows away from the stomach and to the limbs, (hence that sinking feeling) to enable man to run or fight; the digestion shuts down, which is why it is never a good idea to eat when under stress, otherwise you could suffer from indigestion. The muscles tense ready for action, the glands secrete adrenalin, a powerful chemical eventually, when the threat of an attack is over the body returns to a state of near normal, but it is still on the alert - remaining vigilant.
Technology has advanced at a far greater speed than human beings have. And the stressors of yesteryear are very different from the ones of today. We rarely need to fight or flee these days, (even though we may feel like doing so,) but our body is still prepared.
In consequence all that negative energy accumulates in the muscles. It may cause ulcers, migraine, tension headache, irritable bowel syndrome, anxiety or panic attacks, perhaps just feelings of general unease. There could be dizziness, irritability, a feeling of being constantly 'on edge'.
Too much stress results in failure of the immune system to produce those important T cells that help to fight off infection. The immune system then attacks itself, resulting in arthritis, ME, MS, HIV, allergies, asthma, to name but a few.
It is known that bereaved people are more at risk of illness than partners who are together. The mental state is lowered leaving them wide open to negative influences.
So what can we do to discharge the stress?
Well for a start, exercise is great; any kind of exercise will make us feel good, whether it be aerobic such as swimming, dancing, walking, jogging, running or anaerobic such as tennis, football, Exercise is a wonderful stress-buster because it helps to release tension, but after a busy day most people prefer to collapse in front of the television with a drink in their hand.
Take a look at the cause of your stress and see if you can do something about it. At first glance this may sound obvious but if you analyse the cause you may find that the reason is not always so easy to pinpoint. For example you may be stressed because of the amount of work that you have to do, perhaps you are dealing with complaints or difficult customers or trying to achieve impossible targets etc.
If you can do something to alleviate the situation then do it. But if not, accept that you have to change your reaction to it.
For example if dealing with difficult customers is part of your job then examine your options. You can either,
a. continue as you are doing, feeling stressed.
b. change your job.
c. change your own attitude, i.e. don't take complaints personally.
Worrying about something which is beyond your control will only make you ill.
If you feel under pressure because of the amount of work you have to do, examine your options. You either
a. continue as you are doing, getting into a flap over your work.
b. change your job
c. change your own attitude, i.e. accept that there is only so much that you can do, do it to the best of your ability, but don't worry about what you can't do.
I am assuming here that you have explored avenues such as discussing your overload with your boss; this comes under taking a look at the cause of your stress and seeing if you can do something about it.
Right, I can hear you now, saying "Oh it's alright to say that, but my boss will not accept that, the work has got to be done." My point is this, you are only physically able to do so much, you can either do it under stress or without stress.
Worrying about something which is beyond your control will only make you ill.
You cannot change other people. People can change, and often do, but that is their decision. Therefore if you are the one who is suffering from stress then you are the one who must change. It is that simple.
Now I can almost hear you saying ''Of course it's not that simple, don't you think if I could change I would have done!' Well, maybe, but maybe not. We are all resistant to change, that is human nature, and anyway you may be blaming other people for the cause of that stress, that is also, to a certain extent, human nature. But we can change just like the people mentioned above when we decide to.
Once we have decided to change we can wonder how we will go about effecting these changes. There are ways, easy ways.
One of these ways entails using simple mind techniques to re-programme the subconscious mind to accept a healthier and more beneficial outlook.
You may be feeling a little dubious about the terming of the subconscious mind so a brief description of the way the mind works may help you to understand its function.
If we think of the mind as an iceberg, you could perhaps imagine the tip of the iceberg to be the conscious mind, the part of you that is thinking now. This part of the mind deals with problems at hand but when it encounters events that have been previously experienced it will dip into the deeper sub-conscious mind to see how to deal with this problem or event.
The sub-conscious mind holds all the information about everything that has ever happened to you, everything you've ever seen, heard, done, smelt, dreamt, touched, thought it is all there, recorded in and around the cells as electrical nerve impulses.
Now the subconscious mind is not as intelligent as the conscious mind, in many ways it is quite childlike and takes things very literally. The conscious mind can be thought of as the 'critical censor' guarding the entrance to the subconscious mind evaluating the information that is to be stored in the deeper vaults of the subconscious. Once the information has entered into the mind it is filed away in the appropriate compartment.
However, and this next point is extremely important - the subconscious does not differentiate between fact and fantasy and when the conscious, thinking mind wishes to draw upon past experience it will dip in and examine a piece of what it considers to be, relevant information to tell it how to deal with this situation.
When the conscious thinking mind is relaxed, or occupied elsewhere, it drops its guard somewhat, allowing data to filter in, uncensored. We can make use of this knowledge to help us to deal with unwanted behaviour patterns, such as the stress response, addictions to food, tobacco, alcohol, anxiety states, panic attacks, relationship difficulties in fact any problem of a psycho somatic nature.
Advertisers and politicians make use of this knowledge to make us buy their products or vote for them. Subliminal messages are all around us and most of the time we are completely unaware of the 'stuff' that is being put into our minds.
However, knowing all this, we can now decide what goes into our mind. We can put that information there. We can make full use of our potential.
Actually I've not told you of a fraction of the things you can do with this knowledge. You've probably heard that human beings use only about a tenth of their brain power and for a long time Russians have been exploring areas such as telepathy and distance vision. We know that people are more intuitive when the mind is relaxed, you can increase your confidence, help with stage fright, public speaking, memory enhancement, sport performance, compulsive behaviours, phobias, 'go back' to events that occurred in childhood, infancy, even the womb - the list is limitless.
A relatively new area of psychology is Neuro-Linguistic-Programming (NLP) which enables people to move out of their existing mind-set, to model themselves on successful individuals through visualisation, time-orientation and specific language patterns.
These are just a few of the things you can hope to achieve with your knowledge if you wish to.
Hypnotherapy is one way of coping with stress, however if you feel that you may have deeper underlying problems then consult your G.P. or seek professional advise.
You may prefer to combine your relaxation with other methods such as reflexology, massage or aromatherapy. Essential oils are uplifting and in some countries are issued by GPs as treatment for medical problems.
Listening to music can have a therapeutic effect, or finding some other creative outlet such as painting, drawing, pottery, drama, decoupage, or embroidery. If you are stuck for ideas then you can ask your subconscious mind to bring forward the creativity within you, by inserting the suggestion into the above script. For example:- think back to when you were a child, what hopes and aspirations did you have then? Perhaps there is something there that has taken a backseat in your life and now is the time to explore the potential which you and every human being on this
earth, holds within.
You may be feeling that I have diversified from the subject of stress but the body and mind are in harmony when there is balance. Many people today are left-brain dominant, lacking in creativity. We can 'tune in' to our natural resources.
Another way of changing is to focus outwardly instead of inwardly. If you have a difficult customer or client, put yourself in his place. Imagine you are that person, seeing what he sees, feeling what he feels. Try to match your breathing, your smiling, your frowning with his. If he is tapping his fingers or feet nervously then nod in tune with him, do all this subtlety and it will be registered on an unconscious level, this will put you in rapport and you will find that he warms to you, because he feels that you are like him. When you are in rapport you can begin to lead the person to the desired outcome.
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