Every time you worry or feel stressed out the brain sends signals to the rest of your body to start preparing for a possible incoming threat. Your heart starts beating faster, fuel gets made readily available in the bloodstream and your muscles tense up. We call this effect the “Stress response”, the severity of this effect can be greatly influenced by our perception, biases and attitude towards the stressor.
We’ve created five easy-to-implement tools that are aimed at mentally reducing the stress response, bringing down the stress response and overtime becoming more resilient to mental stressors. the action items are ranked from #1 easiest to implement to #5 hardest to implement. For the next two weeks try to implement at least two of the action items on a daily basis. Remember that changing your behavior takes time, effort and consistency.
Action #1: Pay attention to your internal dialogue
The first step is to start paying attention to the thoughts that seemingly random come and go into your mind, this is the basic concept behind mindfulness. What are those thoughts coming into your head, are they negative or positive, happy or sad? Are they making the situation better or worse? Simply being mindful can help you make sense of all the clutter that’s going around in your head.
Action #2: Be aware of the 3 p’s
We often tend to worsen a situation by using the three P’s; (1)Permanent “This will always happen to me”, (2)Pervasive “everything is like this”, and (3)Personal “This is all my fault”. Find out if this is the case for you and try to avoid falling into this trap
Action #3: Stop crying
The “stop crying” breathing method is a way of breathing I got from Andrew Huberman. It essentially mimics the way your body naturally breaths after crying. Two deep sniffs in through the nose followed by a long exhalation through the mouth. Doing this 4-6 time whilst stressed will immediately bring the stress response down and make you feel calm.
Action #4: Use your vision
Often we are stressed we develop a laser focus on the problem, our brain let’s our eyes zoom in on the problem by narrowing our vision. This means that you can also get out of it by expanding your vision to a panoramic view. Try this the next time you feel stressed out or try to look a few minutes at the horizon in the evening for a more relaxing sleep.
Action #5: Develop hardiness
Hardiness is a composite of the interrelated attitudes of commitment, control and challenge that provides the existential courage and motivation needed to turning stressful circumstances from potential disasters into growth opportunities.
- Commitment – An attitude that describes the tendency of an individual to be deeply involved in every aspect of their life, finding life and the world interesting and meaningful. Those high in commitment tend to engage with every situation rather than withdraw; even high-stress experiences.
- Control – An attitude that through their actions an individual can influence the shape and texture of their life and experiences. They feel they can at least influence (if not control) ay situation, and don’t feel powerless or helpless in high-stress situations.
- Challenge – An attitude that challenge is something that should be persuaded and the easy road is not the path of meaning and fulfillment. Individuals with this attitude seek out difficulties instead of avoiding them and enjoy the process of learning through both good and bad experiences.