How to Manage Stress
Hello it’s Dr Ro talking to you on the subject of how to manage stress.
If you’re watching this right now and you’re feeling a sense of anxiety or stress, the two are basically the same thing. And just to let you know actually over the last five years or more, the number of searches on anxiety on for example, Google have just continued to go up and up and up and up. And in fact, the amount of medication people are taking is increasing as well. So it’s no joke, and it’s certainly a subject we know a lot of people experience on a regular and daily basis.
So stress can hit you in different ways. It can hit you and this is the thing, you’ve got to be aware of how it shows up in your body first of all. That is the first step I would say if you are experiencing some form of stress but you’re not quite sure if you are or not, look out for the signs. Being aware of something is the first step to any transformation, any sort of change is awareness.
So you’ve got to decide when you experience something in your body, what is this I’m feeling?
Is it something bad that I’ve eaten?
Is it a physical reaction to something?
Or is it actually a sense of stress?
Typically, it will show up in a physiological reaction and an emotional reaction. So, for example, you might feel your stomach tightening, that sickness coming in around your stomach as well. For a lot of people it’s this, it’s heavy breathing. Let me reword that, it’s a light breathing but it’s a heavy or process. The problem with that is, the breathing is in the chest rather than in the lungs down deep. So often what happens is when somebody starts breathing up here and not down into the lungs, they almost carve the oxygens to their main system. They think they are and then it goes into the reverse and it floods and that can be very stressful for somebody.
So if you’re watching and you get that sense tingling in your fingertips, you start doing this with your hands. It might be that you have sort of a twitch, some people they wiggle their legs, they do this. There are all sorts of things that people do when they’re feeling stress, so be aware of it.
So the first step to any management of stress is to notice it. Once you’ve noticed it, label it. Give it a name, it could be stress, or parenting stress, or it could be work-related stress. Or it could be stress related to finances, you almost need to nominate what it is. You say right, this is a finance stress situation. I’m not stressed about my whole life right now, I’m not feeling anxious about everything, it’s about this particular situation. So that’s really important part of the process, is being aware of it.
So one, notice what’s happening your body, then give it a name and you can even have a fun name. Sometimes that helps creating fun names like crazy cash stress I’m getting it again. It enables you to flow out your body and observe, so that becomes step three as far as I’m concerned.
Step three is you flow out your body, and you observe yourself.
What are you doing physiologically that you can change?
So first thing to do maybe is to stand up if you’re sitting down and get outside and get some fresh air. Start taking long, deep breaths and they can’t be into your chest to chest rising. It needs to be more into your belly, so you can see it, I don’t have that much of a belly, that you’re pushing your belly out, and breathing back in again. And you’re allowing the air to get down deep and fill those lungs. Oddly enough, when people have a cigarette they actually somebody who is stressed, when they go for a cigarette they actually take a deep breath. You don’t need a cigarette to take the breath that’s my point.
So that is definitely the next step in the process. It’s going out and changing your physiology and allowing yourself to physically change estate. Drink a glass of water because sometimes you can get quite dehydrated, your breathing and then you start getting dizzy and you feel lightheaded. Have water that will slow you down and don’t just go and drink the whole thing. Just have a nice strong sip of water. And look up, if you can look around, get a sense of nature, if that’s possible to do. If you cannot actually get outside and see nature, you certainly need to stand up.
Otherwise the next step is to close your eyes. And closing your eyes I want you to take your focus to something that is beautiful in your life. Something that you’ve experienced that’s beautiful in your past or something in your life that’s beautiful. For me it’s my kids. If I get into a situation with a lot going on, I picture both my beautiful children looking up at me like this or greeting me in the morning, giving me a cuddle when they are still sleepy. And oddly enough that brings me back to centre.
You really need something that’s going to take your compass which is doing this at the moment, waving all over the place and bring it back to centre. Very important process. Now that could be a quiet place that you go to, it could be a beach, it could be a mountain scene. I like the idea of a mountain near some trees blowing in the background, so I can hear the wind blowing through the trees. And the sound of the river just flowing by me that has a calming effect for me.
If you need a tool to do that there some great apps out there, one of the ones I use is Buddify. If you go onto the iPhone I’m sure you can find it. I’m sure they’ve the same thing for android phones as well, and that’s a great app. And in there they have lots of different five-minute, eight-minute, 12 minute longer meditation and relaxation techniques to bring you back out of state stress.
Then the next step really is to, if you can do it right it out on paper. What is the situation at the moment?
See it for what it is. Half of dealing with challenges like anxiety and stress is seeing it for what it is. Let’s say all I forgot to pay my credit card payment, there has been a late payment on my credit card, I check my bank account and I don’t necessarily have enough money and I’m not getting paid until tomorrow. And all the stress, “what am I going to do?” You take that situation and you write down; I have missed a payment on my credit card. It was due in yesterday, I’m due my salary tomorrow at the moment there is not enough money in my bank account. So I need to find a solution that will help me stop getting a bad mark against my credit history for example, it this is a finance one. By the way I’m just looking down on this board and I’m imagine myself writing it out. So that’s what I’m doing, I’m writing it out. And then I’m going to write down what would be the solution to this situation?
So I’m looking at this piece of paper, looking down going right one solution is I contact the credit card company. I say to them that this has happened. Would it be possible to make my payment tomorrow and hold off marking my credit file? That could be one thing I can do.
Second thing I could do find another credit card for example. Again, this is not advice by the way, you’re going to have to take financial advice if you’re going to do anything like this. But I could take one of my other credit cards and I could do a balance transfer from credit card A to credit card B, enabling me to pay that month’s payment on that credit card. It’s temporary of course as I’ve got my salary coming in, but I’m just thinking what other creative things I can do.
It might be that you’re with a partner and you can say to your partner, would it be possible to pay my credit card off? I’m going to ring them and say to them, this is what I’m looking to do and if they say yes, I can make payment from you or from a friend or family member, whatever. In other words what I’m saying is in that situation for example, there are several things you could consider and then you can decide from that which one is the best and most appropriate.
In doing that in making yourself aware of it, laying it down on paper and actually seeing it for what it is you suddenly realise actually things aren’t so bad. I’m looking at the piece of paper here thinking, okay it’s not quite as bad as I thought. There are several things I can do here. The problem is when it’s in your head, your brain goes off and starts to look all the negative connotations, the worst-case scenario, when in fact you really need to be capturing on paper looking at what your options are first. We haven’t even got to the worst case situation because X,Y, Z has to happen first thing. So I think go through that process.
The last thing I would say is have a think about other times in your life when you have had a similar situation, when you’ve experienced something similar to this and you’ve got through it. Or maybe you turn to someone else that had a similar situation to you, so I always say who do you know, and how can they help you. That’s kind of the key element of this part of the process. “I know my friend John he missed his payment last month and I wonder how he got around that?” Don’t take the burden on yourself, start to look outside and think about who you know around you that can help you with that as well.
I think if you go through the steps you’ll find very quickly it’s like peeling an onion, you get to the core of the problem and you will hopefully find a solution. And If you don’t find a solution you’ll certainly calm down and manage the stress, and give you chance to think more rationally in order to get to a solution.
Hopefully that is useful, Dr Ro signing out.
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