Three ways to reduce stress

Today I want to talk briefly about stress, unexpected events and how we deal with the unexpected challenges that stir that flight or fight response.

Do you ever think about how you react to stressful situations – flight or fight – what is your stress response?

I never used to until probably my 40s when I started to realise that if I let stress get the better of me, everything went wrong and I hit a downward spiral and this was something I did repeatedly which always had a disastrous effect on my physical and mental health and as a consequence relationships around me.

So what do you do when the s..t hits the fan?

Do you run? Do you stand still frozen? Do you laugh hysterically? Or do you walk away as though nothing has happened?

These are just a few reactions to stressful situations and we all know we get them don’t we so why not prepare ourselves better for those moments. I know we cannot determine every awkward situation but we can determine how we react even if it is a very small window of opportunity to make that decision. We can learn new habits, we just have to keep practising so that when that tricky moment happens, we are more able to make the right response.

How can we do this?

Well make space between the moment the awful/awkward/unexpected event happens before taking action. There are a number of ways to do this but for me these are my three tips for slowing down that flight or fight reaction:-

 

Stay still and breathe – allow your mind time to try to absorb what has just happened and breathe deeply. You have to give yourself the opportunity to try to make sense of what has just happened before you take that fateful next step. Quite often when we react too quickly, particularly to an emotional situation, we can make the wrong decision because it is too soon after the event and our judgement is clouded. So let’s breathe, stay still and keep your breathe regulated.
Allow your mind to think the worst. You have to go through the different scenarios and let them play out. This could take a while but preferably no longer than a day because and here is the key point 3 –
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Some outcomes are out of your control and for those outcomes you need to let them go. Don’t waste time thinking about them as you will paint a very bleak picture which then drags you down and stops you moving forward. Yes understand that there is the possibility of that outcome but then leave it or if you are struggling with the negativity of it, you then have to say okay so what if that happens, what could I then do to turn this around.

I know you are saying that’s easier said than done but actually if you apply this to every difficult situation, it will start to become a habit that enables you to reduce stress and find more positive outcomes to what could be very negative situations.

I only let myself have one day to dwell on worst case outcomes because I know if I don’t move on, the rest of my week plays out badly as it interferes with my mindset and concentration. Why let that happen to yourself when you have no control over that outcome?

I hope this helps as I feel as we get older we can really blow things out of proportion but also there are a lot more stressful situations from 40+ which are just part of life and I think if we can prepare ourselves better, hopefully we can not let those moments take over the rest of our lives.