Imagine this, it’s Sunday morning and you are already thinking about all the work you need to complete when you arrive at work on Monday morning. Suddenly, you get this nauseated feeling in your stomach, the muscles around your neck begin to stiffen, and your entire Sunday is filled with worry. You should be enjoying your day off but instead you begin to feel stressed.
Sound familiar? Stress is all around us. For the majority, it’s an accepted part of life. We’ve all heard the warnings that stress is bad for us. However, how many of us actually do something to manage our stress both at work and outside of it?
Most of us know stress can lead to a host of diseases – heart attacks, cancer, diabetes or stroke. The increasing number of workers taking time off from work due to stress related illnesses continues to soar every year costing companies millions of dollars.
Stress also effects our ability to reach our potential and perform at our best as the brain function is severely compromised. When we encounter stress our body release toxic hormones called cortisol which damage our prefrontal cortex thereby shutting down these functions. This area of our brain is responsible for decision making such as goal attainment, emotional intelligence such as understanding people’s concerns and compassion for them. As a result, we make poor decisions or become more prone to mental lapses. This can be costly especially if you are a CEO or high level executive of a company.
The stress hormones also shrinks the brain’s neural networks hampering it from making new connections. Without this process our ability to learn and create is severly compromised. Our cells are damaged as well contributing to disease in the body.
So what is the best way to manage stress? Master your inner game by rewiring your brain. Change your attitude, thoughts by learning how to let go of fear. By reshaping how you look at stressful situations the brain is about to created new neural pathways. Stop believing in your negative thoughts and begin to look for a more peaceful alternate.
Begin by asking yourself if you situation improves or gets worse by being stressed out? Remember, stress is just fear, an evolutionary trait that protects us from getting hurt. While this was an important for our daily survival when we were cave people, it doesn’t come into play in today’s world. In most countries we are not fighting off wild animals or rival tribes. Therefore, many of our fears never come true. In fact, we tend to manufacture our own stress based on the environment around us by making situations bigger than they really are.
A study at Cornell University confirms this line of thinking. Subjects were told to write down their worries for two weeks and then track which actually came true. They found that the vast majority of their worries about 85 percent never came true. Of the 15 percent that did actually happen, it often wasn’t that bad. In fact, 79 percent of the time things turned out better than expected. In the end, the study believes roughly 97 percent of our worries are either exaggerated or fabrications from inside our heads.
Stop creating drama for yourself! Avoid dwelling on past mistakes, possible future mistakes as it will only make your anxious. Practice self-awareness by looking at each situation objectively.
Use the C.L.A.N. technique:
Change it by focusing on what you can do to influence the situation
Leave it by walking away from the situation
Accept it as is.
Nothing can be done about it. There are things you just cannot control.
Remember you can always control your thoughts. Here are some of my favorite ways to achieve a peaceful mindset:
1. Wake up early
2. Meditate or practice qigong
3. Green smoothie
4. Organize you day the night before to avoid stress
5. Take 30 second time out breaks throughout the day
6. Go for a walk
7. Develop great relationships
Studies show deep meaningful relationships help reduce stress and improve our long term health. In fact, people with strong relationships generally live 50 per cent longer. So take inventory of who you spend your social time with. Ask yourself if they contribute positively to the energy around you.
On the flip side, loneliness harms our health. Scientific studies found lonliness is as harmful as smoking 15 cigarettes per day.
In the end, remember how you view the events surrounding your life is key to managing stress. Think positively, give generously, and surround yourself with positive individuals.