What is Stress:
Let me start this blog by explaining what stress is, as I see it. Now, in our day-to-day life there is so much worry, so much of nervousness, anxiety and worry, and all this puts us in stress. Stress is a state of mind one which we express with fear anxiety. And stress is not a new thing. It existed from the beginning of mankind. I say this because stress is a natural reaction off our body to protect ourselves. And therefore, stress is not always bad.
Stone Age Stress:
In the Stone Age when men had to go and fight the undetermined and get meat at home as food, they also face stress. But when they come back home and they sit with their family and friends sharing the meal, there is no stress, there is only happiness at that time. What I mean to say is stress does not exist 24/7. Rather, it only lasts an hour or two a day. As a result, our bodies and minds have more time to return to normal.
Stress in today’s life :
Now look at life off today. You get up in the morning almost jumping out of bed. You are already thinking of that difficult meeting, about the 100s of emails piling up, that you have not yet read. You have hardly even had your morning coffee let alone breakfast and you are already running late. If you think this is work related stress and hence by 5PM the stress will end. Think again. As you are returning home, you must worry about the traffic jam, about your children’s homework or you still have a pile up of work left when you come home, and you are worried about that. To top it off, there is the apprehension and anxiety brought on by today’s chaos. Would I have a job tomorrow, what if I get sick, will I be able to pay my bills, and so on, adding to my already high level of anxiety.
What does Stress Do?
Now let me explain what being in stress 24/7 does to you. When you are in stress, at that moment, your brain opts to go into a fight or flight mode. In that mode the entire focus and energy of your brain is how to protect you. As a result, it often chooses between looking for ways to avoid tension or confronting it head on. The imaginative problem-solving portion of the brain is turned off in all these scenarios. In fact when you are anxious and stressed out, it is this creative part of the brain that you want to access and that will help you solve or find a resolution to your problem. So, while fighting or running may work for a caveman, you are in stress 24/7 today. Your brain has been conditioned to be defensive or aggressive and has forgotten how to be imaginative, happy, and learn from our mistakes.
The Science behind Stress:
The brain is not that intelligent. What I mean is, it cannot differentiate between real stress or a perceived stress. So, when you are anxious or worried, which is most of the time during the day, it just assumes you are in stress and reacts. Now let us take an example where you are in the office and in the middle of the meeting there is a heated argument. Obviously, you are under a lot of pressure. At that point, you will not be able to come up with a viable solution. Take a deep breath in and slowly exhale. You have just taken a step back in your mind. It acts like a gear in your brain, switching it from the stressed agitated mode and opens that problem solving side of the brain. Here you must make use of this opportunity, when the brain is more relaxed and it will lead you to find a creative solution, may not be a perfect solution, but it will definitely be better than when you were stressed and probably having a yelling match.
Some more resources on stress management:
Understanding the Stress response, a Harvard article:
How does this make you Ace your Professional life?
If you understand how your brain functions, you will have more control of how you respond to stress. It is more convenient to have a preference and to know what your next best move should be. You can create new habits of acknowledging your stress on one hand and then learning to calm your brain where you are more capable and more likely to show up as confident and able of resolving whatever problem that is in front of you. A great skill to possess to ace your professional life.
This is Coach Geeta signing off…
Some Stress Busters:
1. Share your problems, talk about them rather than keeping them in your heart.
2. Listen to good music. Music plays a great role in changing our moods.
3. Try painting, cooking, writing…something creative.
4. Take a stroll in nature.
5. Take a warm relaxing bath
6. Join a laughing club. If there is none available, make such a club.
7. Slow down the pace of your speech.
8. Take a water break.
9. Stretch yourself.
10. Posture check. When stressed your body is more likely to lean forward or by tight in areas like the shoulder. Relax and straighten yourself.
Need more ideas to deal with Stress?
For more inspiration and ideas on handling stress and achieving success in what you seek, you can read through all my blogs.
You can also access my complimentary resources ‘5 techniques to reduce stress’ from my website through the link: https://coachingwithgeeta.com/free-resources/