Here are 6 ways you can reduce your stress levels and get back on track
When was the last time you felt anxious or stressed and aced a day of productive work? I’ll stick my neck out and guess that you’ve never managed to get anything done whilst wracked with angst. I know I haven’t.
Whilst on a short flight this week, I was sat next to a nervous flyer. She fidgeted, huffed, opened and closed the window blind, tested the strength of the window by repeatedly pressing it, tried to read a book, then resorted to trying to read a bible, tried to sleep without success and then yelped with every spot of turbulence. The point is, everything she did was influenced by her edgy nerves which meant she did nothing but inwardly panic, poor woman. Had she been calm she could have caught up on her bible verses and made inroads into her book, instead she was just expending energy trying to keep her flight response (pun intended) under control.
You can probably relate to having enacted some sort of equivalent behaviour when there’s been something worrying you. Stressful, anxious thoughts fire up your amygdala, the part of your brain that controls emotional responses and is responsible for your fight, flight or freeze reaction when something untoward occurs. It’s annoying as hell and if you don’t catch the amygdala panic train before it leaves the station, you’re in for a waste of time, anxiety riddled ride like my next door neighbour on the plane.
The bad news is that as soon as your amygdala takes control, it quite literally disables the logical part of your brain that could rein it in if it hadn’t been tied up and gagged already. The good news is that once you start to pay attention to the signs that your amygdala has been awakened like a kraken, you can train yourself to calm it down before it hits its stride.
Here are 6 tools for calming your stress response before it ruins your day:
- Notice and recognise the signs that your nervous system has been activated and your stress response is ramping up
- Feel whereabouts in your body your stress reactions live
- Slow and control your breathing – I have a quick HeartMath tutorial video here that will help
- Remove yourself from the stressful situation so you can respond rather than react
- Practice mindfulness daily – this might be meditation, yoga, running, cooking, writing, painting – find something that gets you into the present moment even for just a few minutes
- Get a proper night’s sleep – if you’re well rested, you’ll cope far better with potentially stressful situations when they do arise
Being constantly under stress feels horribly overwhelming and overwhelm if left unchecked leads to burnout (been there, done that and got the merchandise range). I’d suggest that if life and work have you feeling agitated and constantly in a reactive state of mind, it’s time to evaluate what’s going on to cause all the stress and see where you can make some changes.
HeartMath provides a collection of brilliant techniques to not only help you manage your stress and subsequent response to it more effectively, but also to achieve a state of calm so you can make better decisions and more aligned choices in life. Find out more about how HeartMath might help you by booking a free exploratory call with me here.
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