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Stress Fitness: Harnessing Your Stress

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stress management
Everyone can manage their stress. Learn how today.

We all have stress and things in our lives that cause stress. It’s unavoidable. It’s how you cope with it that determines its effects on your mind, body, and emotions. Which is why stress fitness is what we’re talking about today in this edition of Hypnotic News.

Stress Works Against Success

All of us would like to look and feel better. To have more energy, to be ill less often, and to have fewer adverse habits affecting us. Your stress levels (and your stress’s underlying causes) play a fairly large role in those things. Which is why stress fitness is so important. The tools we’re going to talk about today will help you achieve personal excellence at work and at play.

What is Stress Fitness?

Stress fitness is the ability to use your stress to your advantage. Otherwise, you are letting it use you. More importantly, you are letting it harm you. We have the ability as a species to harness that energy and apply it more effectively towards your goals and aspirations.

Stress management is often unsuccessful because it doesn’t address the root causes. Often it only covers the symptoms. Headaches, anxiety, weight gain. It doesn’t touch the causes, which means that you only continue to struggle and suffer from its effects. In fact, many times, we find that people’s struggles relate to stress. I can’t tell you how many smokers, weight loss sleep, or anxiety client’s problems have all boiled down to stress-related issues.

The key to changing how stress works against you into a force you can harness for you is your perspective. You too can harness the energy of your stress. You can turn it from something harming you into something beneficial. We will all always have stress, but you don’t have to let it affect you negatively.

You don’t need me to tell you how bad stress is for you. We hear about it constantly. And the risks are real. However, recent research is showing that work strain, when managed correctly, can be beneficial to productivity and workplace performance. The question becomes how do we take something that is doing damage and turn it into a benefit?

What the Experts Say

Well first off, stress is unavoidable. We live in a world where we are constantly on the go. There are deadlines and things are constantly changing. We just have to accept that. We may have it in our lives, “but the effects are far from inevitable.” claims Shawn Achor, the founder of Good Think, Inc. Stress is like any other emotion. Tears and sadness are not always a bad thing and neither is stress. It just depends on what you do with it. In fact, how you manage the pressure on you can set you apart as a leader. Which is an advantage?

Think of it this way. A chair is a char. It’s a tool. If you sit in that chair its a benign or being used for a ‘good’ purpose. However, if you take that chair and bludgeon someone to death its been used as a tool of destruction. The chair itself was never good or bad. It was the person using or manipulating it. The same is true of our emotions. They exist for a purpose. To let us know something is going on. What we do with them after that is entirely up to us. And those choices affect our well being as well as our behaviors.

Change Your Mind…Harness Your Stress

So how do we manage to accomplish the list above? Mostly, you just have to find what works for you. Sometimes you can find that on your own. Others need additional help from a therapist, a good friend, or even a hypnotist. Below are just a few hints and tips to help.

Recognize Your Worry

The first step is to understand why you’re worried. Worry is a feeling. We often forget that. It’s a heightened reaction resulting in tension and other physiological responses. It is an indicator of how much you care about the task. And your stress level correlates directly to its importance. You may not care about what your boss wants you to do, but you definitely care about the job that feeds you and your family. That fuels your ability to do what you want. If it didn’t matter, you wouldn’t worry. This is often also a good way to sense our priorities. If you begin to recognize worry note also that, like any other emotion it is fleeting. It may feel like it will last forever but it won’t.

Reframe Your Perception

Once you recognize what worry is, then you need to work on your perception of it. Research shows that how you view stress determines its effects on you. Many of us are too focused on the negative the neutral, or the stressed feelings we have instead of the positive. Our brains work better when we manage to think positively. Negativity sends your mind into flight or fight mode, limiting your ability to think. When you are positive you instead begin to broaden, build, and process more possibilities. You get to decide which direction you lean towards. We can see it for the challenge it is and overcome it. Or we can see it as the end of the world and constantly fight it. When you shift to the positive, stress becomes activating rather than debilitating.

Know What You Can (And Cannot) Control

Many of us stress about the things we cannot control. This of course causes anxiety as well. It’s no use to spend time feeling bad about things that we simply cannot change. In the book, The Happiness Advantage, the author outlines an exercise he calls the island experiment. He advises you to write out a list of stressors and put them into two circles or “Islands”. One holds the things you can control. The other things you cannot. Ignore that second island and choose a single concrete action that you can take to change the things you do control. This will begin to solve the stress and move you toward your goal.

Build Your Support Network

Having someone to turn to can make a big difference. It’s important to have an outlet so you can let off the steam and be able to freak out for a moment before centering and moving forward. You may not need it often, but it’s nice to have in place. To build relationships you can rely on for support during times of low stress. It’s worth the effort to put in the effort and build the emotional deposit so you can cash it in if needed. And make sure that they are people who will bring you up rather than taking you down. People who complain or ruminate upon things they cannot change only make it harder for you to not fall into the same trap.

Get Some Experience

The best way to handle stress is practice. If you aren’t used to stress, you panic. Giving in to that panic becomes a vicious cycle that has to be broken. You can often see this in a young person in their first job. They have a much more intense reaction to their stress than older people. Think about ways you can put yourself in non-game-changing, but pressured situations. Don’t forget, pressure and fear are good because it means that you are stretching your limits. For example, if public speaking freaks you out try out your skill in a controlled setting by finding a group like Toastmasters to practice. You may still feel stress, but in a controlled situation, it’s far easier to learn to manage it.

Reminders

Do:

  • Think of stress as an indicator that you care about something, rather than a cause for panic
  • Focus on the task, rather than the emotion
  • Build relationships so that you have people to turn to in times of stress

Don’t:

  • Assume your stress is going to last forever
  • Worry about things that are out of your control
  • Spend time with people who are negative

An Example

Let me give you a personal example that encapsulates each of these. For a good long while, I was taking care of my mother. She required near-constant care and I was always anxious. Problem was, it took a long time for me to even realize what that feeling was. I was so busy ignoring it and trying to move past it, that I didn’t even realize how stressed I was. Worse, I was getting burned out. It wasn’t good for either of us.

About a year after I started taking care of her, I got back to being social. We moved up to Indy and I was building my support group. I didn’t realize at the time that’s what I was doing, but I was. And a number of my new friends were far better for me than my friends in Louisville had been (no offense if you were one of those people). Many (not all) were fairly negative and those were the people I was spending the most time with up until we moved back to Indy.

One friend in particular called me out on my nonsense and told me exactly what was going on. I was a bit resistant at first, but I eventually came to terms and started to realize how bad things had gotten, stress-wise. That friend started to help me be able to reframe my situation so that I could learn from the experience. Once I had reframed, I began to realize what I could and could not change the situation.

I wish I’d had that exercise. I did it by trial and error, which is not nearly as easy. Initially, I tried to change many things that I had no control over, which only made me more stressed. For me, the final step, getting experience, was the hardest part. I had to find situations similar to what I was going through to the practice on. But ultimately, I figured it out and we made it work. I grew and while I still get stressed, I don’t get stressed about that anymore. I harness that energy into productivity.

Final Reminders

  • Learn to relax completely.
  • Use imagery and affirmations to enact healing and life long change.
  • Develop an awareness of your goals, desires, and underlying motivations.
  • Transform stress into fuel to accomplish your goals.
  • Go beyond stress reduction and find a level of well being you likely haven’t felt since a child.

If you’re interested in learning more check out All About Hypnosis and Stress for more information. If you still find yourself struggling to call us for a free consultation at

317-699-1066

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