As we discovered, in my last post, one way of reducing stress is to take small measures throughout the day to prevent it building up. By doing this, we train our minds and bodies to require a bigger and bigger event in order to trigger a stress response. But there are many other ways that we can train our minds and bodies to respond to stress triggers in more positive ways…
1. Create a ‘Calm Button’
Anchoring is a common technique, used in NLP, to access positive states. We do this all the time, unconsciously: the smell of baking might take us back to childhood, a song might remind us of a certain person or time and bring with it the associated feelings, or you might have a certain chair that you like to relax in, which becomes imbued with that state of relaxation so that, as soon as you sit in it, you begin to feel calm.
- Recall or imagine a time when you experienced the desired state.
- When the experience is vivid and you are in the desired state, create a ‘button’ by applying pressure, for example on a particular knuckle or by squeezing a particular finger.
- Release this pressure as soon as the experience begins to fade so that you capture it at its peak. Do something else – open your eyes and count down from 10 to break state and distract yourself.
- Repeat this several times, each time making the memory more vivid, turning up the volume of any sounds, making the colours brighter, noticing where you feel calm in your body and amplify it. Apply the anchor and check that the required state occurs.
- To check that it is working, think of a time in the future where the state of calm would be useful. Activate the button and check that you feel the calmness that you have created.
- Check the anchor the next day to ensure it is permanent.
- The more you use it, the stronger it will become.
“My life has been filled with terrible misfortunes, most of which have never happened.” Mark Twain
We all have limiting beliefs that can get in the way of our goals. Certain thoughts prevent us from seeing how we can move forward. By developing ‘come-backs’ to our negative thoughts, we open our mind to possibilities:
- Use less dramatic language: ‘Today is going to be awful’ becomes ‘Today might be challenging but I am up to it.’
- Look for answers: ask yourself ‘What is the best solution?’ This implies that there are many ways forward and brings your focus to the positive.
- Find a lesson: every challenge is an opportunity to learn.
- Challenge your limiting beliefs: don’t accept thoughts that allow you to think negatively about your situation or that put you in the role of ‘victim’. It is not ‘inevitable’ that you will fail, ‘bad things’ don’t ‘always happen’ to you.
Committing as little as 10 minutes a day to meditation can have huge benefits for mind and body. There are many different types of meditation but the goal of meditation is singular: the cultivation of mindful awareness and expanded consciousness. Try downloading some meditation scripts on your phone and see what works for you.
Make a list of all the things that stress you. You may not want to tackle them right now but by identifying them you will naturally begin to look for ways to resolve them. Some stressers can easily be eliminated. For others, we can choose new responses. For example, if one of the things that stresses you is the mess that your children make (this is one of mine!), a positive reframe would be to choose to see it as a reminder of the fun that they’ve had.
5. Edit your ‘to do list’
Often, we put unnecessary stress on ourselves by having unrealistic expectations. I made a list of lots of positive things that I wanted to do over the summer this year so that I could make the most of my time. Half way through the holiday, however, I noticed that I was feeling really stressed and I had to remind myself that these goals were completely arbitrary and that I had intended them to be fun!
Go through your list asking yourself questions like:
- What would happen if I didn’t?
- What would happen if I did?
- What’s the worst that could happen?
- What’s stopping me?
- What would happen if I could?
And remember to keep in mind whether your ‘to do’ list really needs doing…!
If you would like to find out more about Kerry’s course, which begins on Monday 11th January, please contact Reception on 01603 631 900, email firstname.lastname@example.org or go to our contact page.