We all know of many ways to eliminate stress. We have all read and have access to the endless amounts of science, education and the results of stress. The real issue is how do we catch it before it even starts? For many of us, we go from 0-1000 so fast; we don’t even see or feel the triggers that are right in front of us. Our bodies are telling us with red flags to not go there, yet we’re moving so quickly up the stress ladder we can’t control it.
When I work with clients on reducing stress, anxiety and worry, we work on staying present and aware of what is actually going on in that moment. By doing that, we are not allowing our flight or flight mechanism to kick in which automatically moves us from non-stress to stress. In fact, most times it’s doing the opposite of what we need it to do. Once that happens the stress is triggered and then we are dealing with something completely different; the effects of what the stress causes. It’s kind of like treating a runny nose when we need to be treating what is causing the nose to run in the first place. By getting to the root of the stress, we can then release it.
In order to avoid flight or fight, it is important we get in tune with our bodies, learn how we feel in different situations and begin to detach from that which is causing the stress in the first place. Most times, it’s the little things that we’re not even aware of that ends up causing the stress we later become conscious of. The problem is the stress affects the physical body regardless of us being conscious or not.
6 tips to eliminate stress sooner than later:
1. Detach: Begin to witness the situations around you. See yourself in a theatre sitting in the audience, watching a play unfold. As you watch the play unfolding on the stage in front of you, begin to see yourself as a character in the play. Watch what is going on around you. Listen to the dialogue. Watch the actions of the other actors on the stage going through the situations and dramas as they unfold. As an observer from the audience, you can then begin to witness the things that are causing you the stress. Begin to see those stressors as part of a giant story. We usually find that the things we are most stressed about usually are not really that important anyway. When we can see them from a different view point, we are then able to observe and not take them on.
2. Take nothing personal: Life is not just about you. People, bosses, kids, co workers, parents, they all have their own things going on as well. They have agendas, stress and challenges that don’t really have to have any impact on you, unless you allow it. Often times we make so many things, in other peoples lives, about us. Before we know it we don’t know what is ours and what is not ours. Choose what you’re willing to accept. Know what is yours and what is not yours. If it does not directly involve you, then you have no business allowing it into your stress free zone.
3. Stare at a candle: Light a candle and watch the flame. Stare at it while it dances through the movement of the air. Focus in only on the flame and the dance that it is performing. What is the story telling you? How is it moving? By doing this you’re a taking the focus off what is causing you the stress in the first place and shifting it onto something else. It doesn’t matter what it is, our brains are stupid and only know what we tell it. Change what your focusing on and the rest of your brain will follow. Your body and brain will thank you for it.
4. Watch a funny movie: Laughter relaxes the whole body. A good and hearty laugh relieves physical tension and stress, leaving your muscles relaxed for up to 45 minutes after. Laughter boosts the immune system. Laughter decreases stress hormones and increases immune cells and infection-fighting antibodies, thus improving your resistance to disease. Laughter triggers the release of endorphins, the body’s natural feel-good chemicals. Endorphins promote an overall sense of well-being and can even temporarily relieve pain. Laughter protects the heart. Laughter improves the function of blood vessels and increases blood flow, which can help protect you against a heart attack and other cardiovascular problems.
5. Music and sound: Music and sound is the greatest gift that we’ve been given to lift our spirits and change the mood we’re in. The frequencies of certain sounds have been proven over and over again through various scientific studies. They have shown that music therapy helps to relieve pain and reduce stress and anxiety for the patient, resulting in physiological changes, including: improved respiration, lowered blood pressure, improved cardiac output, reduced heart rate and relaxed muscle tension.
6. EFT or Emotional Freedom Technique: EFT is a form of psychological acupressure, based on the same energy meridians used in traditional acupuncture to treat physical and emotional ailments for over five thousand years, but without the invasiveness of needles. Instead, simple tapping with the fingertips is used to input kinetic energy onto specific meridians on the head and chest while you think about your specific problem, or in this case, stressors. This combination of tapping the energy meridians and voicing positive affirmation works to clear the “short-circuit” – the emotional block — from your body’s bioenergy system, restoring your mind and body’s balance, which is essential for optimal health and the healing of physical disease most often caused by stress.
A group of 83 non-clinical subjects had their psychological conditions assessed using the assessment tool SA-45. Participants were divided into three research groups: no treatment; a psychotherapy group where they received one session of supportive psychotherapy; and an EFT group that received a single session (one hour) of EFT. Cortisol levels were measured just before, and immediately after, the interventions. Results indicated the EFT group demonstrated a decrease in both psychological symptoms and cortisol-related stress symptoms at statistically significant levels, while the other two groups did not show any statistically significant change in cortisol levels. The study demonstrated that after a single session of EFT, measurable improvement in cortisol levels and self-reported psychological symptoms were seen. Church, D., Yount, G., Brooks, A. The Effect of Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) on Stress Biochemistry: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease (in press).
There is no doubt that stress affects each of us at various times in life. Stress is unavoidable. What can be avoidable are the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual long term effects it has on us. By taking responsibility and doing the necessary work today, we eliminate the negative consequences tomorrow. We can not run from the things that cause us stress. The best we can do is learn to stay present, know what is ours and what is not ours and replace stress with fun, laughter, music and joy.