Get on top of your stress levels

Stress is born, lives, and dies between your ears. Well that’s mostly true. There are certain stressors like financial, physiological and environmental that maybe beyond our control. However most emotional stress is self-inflicted and a product of our thoughts, expectations and beliefs. For the past 15 years I have been studying stress and how to manage it especially in a working environment. Its important to have tools to control your stress levels, rather than your emotions controlling you.

Language is the tool that we programme our brain with. It is the tool we teach our children with and manage our work environment. Despite major technological advances the human brain has not changed much in the past few thousand years. What was true of the stoic philosophers Marcus Aurelius and Epictetus is true now. Life is not stressful, its just our view of it that is. Thoughts are our internal language and programming code for the brain.

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Certain words are more stressful than others. We think in patterns and attitudes that generate cortisol, put our blood pressure up, make us age prematurely and we can transfer these attitudes to those around us and the generations that follow. Having studied thousands of people’s thoughts I noticed common attitude profiles and gave them a diagnosis and cure.

I covered these in my book the Power of Healthy Thinking but words are powerful and potentially damaging. Words like “should” and “must” are demanding and stressful. “You should tidy your room” can be replaced with “I would prefer you tidied your room otherwise here are the consequences”. Without appropriate consequences we don’t tend to change our behaviour.

“I must get everything done for everybody” can be replaced with “I would rather get everything done but in fact I need some time for myself or my family”. We are often too hard on ourselves and others. Other stressful and potentially damaging words are “hopeless” and “useless”. No worker, client, parent or child is hopeless or useless, in my view. This profile is the judge and we are quick to judge ourselves and others.

If we make a mistake we can blame the situation but if others make mistakes we can blame their character. If someone cuts you off in the traffic there are range of expletives one can use, often in the presence of others. If you cut someone off you tend to blame something or someone else. Stress causes parts of the brain to shut down, thereby increasing your risk of an accident.

Most stress is just not worth it. Unless it changes your behaviour, it is what I call an unhealthy emotion. If financial stress causes you to spend less or earn more, it’s a healthy emotion. If you don’t change your behaviour then you are just wasting your time getting stressed and often winding up others at the same time.

I use what I call cognitive switches to manage stress. When things go wrong as they often do, I tell myself, “there are no problems only solutions”. My mind shifts to a different part of my brain and I looking for solutions, rather than dwelling on the problem. 2018 will have its challenges as well as its rewards. Remember it’s not what happens to you that is important, its how you deal with it that counts. If you want to know more check out our website

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