Three top tips to manage stress
Stress and anxiety. We’ve all experienced these states at some point in our lives, and some of us may be particularly struggling at this moment. They can be debilitating and pervasive, affecting all areas of our lives. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Whilst there’s nothing we can do to take away the complexity of our modern world, it is possible for us to use our mind in a way that moves us beyond unhealthy stress. On the other side lies peace of mind, contentment and fulfilment; the states we’re all ultimately striving for.
Three key insights
Here are three key insights that are central to moving beyond unhealthy stress and anxiety:
- The first insight is that you are not your mind. Your mind is a tool for you to use, and it is how you use it that determines your experience of life.
- Secondly, the thoughts and beliefs you hold programme your mind. Therefore, it’s crucial that you’re very careful to consider which thoughts you buy into. For example, moments before stepping on-stage to deliver a speech, the belief ‘I’m terrible at public speaking and public speaking is scary’ will lead to a fundamentally different stress response than ‘I’m on the journey to learning how to be a great public speaker and this is a safe environment in which to practice.’ The former will lead to a fight/flight/freeze response, flooding your system with unhelpful adrenalin, while the latter will enable you to remain calm and focused. Note that the situation and your mind has stayed the same; only the programming has changed.
- Your mind cannot not do something. This sentence is difficult to read precisely because it’s faulty programming. It’s the reason tightrope walkers choose not to say ‘Don’t look down’, because they know their mind won’t understand this instruction and will therefore look into the abyss. We understandably tell our minds to ‘stop stressing’ or ‘stop worrying’ when we notice our anxiety levels increasing, but as our mind doesn’t understand how not to do something, we inadvertently fuel our stress or worry. To overcome this, instead, programme your mind to focus on what is in your control or on solutions to the challenges at hand.
The crucial realisation that ties these three insights together is that stress and anxiety aren’t in the situation. They are experienced as a result of the beliefs that we hold and the way that we use our mind in relation to the challenges at hand.
If you would like to find out more about moving beyond stress and anxiety, I will be running monthly mindfulness drop-in sessions at Deva Yoga in Chislehurst on the first Wednesday of each month. Mindfulness is the state of awareness that allows us to use our mind optimally, and the session on 6 June will focus exclusively on this subject.
If you’re currently suffering with chronic or severe stress or anxiety, I recommend speaking with your doctor who will be able to let you know about the support that’s available to you. If you feel ready to apply these insights and carve out a new mindset, then now could be the time to work with a skilled life coach. You can find out more about my work in this space at www.stevechamberlain.co.uk and please feel free to drop me a line on 07789 175 460. You can also join the upcoming mindfulness and stress drop-in session at Deva Yoga on 6 June
As a bonus gift to mark Mental Health Awareness Week, and to support you on your journey, please feel free to download or share this 90-minute stress release audio programme, which goes into the above insights in much greater depth.