We asked Carl Vernon, best-selling author of The Less – Stress Lifestyle and Anxiety Rebalance, to share his advice.
We tend to think of stress as all bad, but it doesn't have to be. Without stress, we might feel less motivated, and if we're pushing our life forward, getting things done and achieving our goals, stress will always be part of that.
Stress is a fixed and natural part of our lives so, instead of trying to fight it or get rid of it, we need to make stress work for us by learning how to manage it better.
Here are 10 ways you can manage your stress and make it work for you...
Note: This advice applies to feelings of mild stress.
1. Build a 'stress wall'
During stressful periods, you might feel bombarded by stressful thoughts that trigger anxiety. When a thought comes, try using active imagination to combat it. Imagine the worry bouncing off a big impenetrable wall in your mind and floating away from your immediate attention. Keep that wall up until you're ready to deal with the problem, and imagine all the further stressful thoughts continuing to bounce off it. When you stop allowing stressful thoughts to permeate your mind, you'll be able to manage stress a lot more effectively.
You don't have to imagine a wall - you can choose any thought metaphor that suits you. You might prefer to imagine your thoughts as birds landing on a tree and you make them fly away again or putting your thoughts into a box and closing the lid.
2. Stop living in the world of what if…
When we're stressed, we live in the world of what if.
What if this happens?... What if I can't do that?... What if I make a fool out of myself?
Most of these worrying thoughts never happen, and they're only getting in your way. Try to stop living in the world of what if and start living in the land of the real. So what if something doesn't go quite right? You've just learned something new, and there is always value in that. Don't be afraid to take a chance.·
Image Via Pinterest
3. Focus on positive people
Where your lifestyle allows it, try to spend more time with people who will have a positive influence on your wellbeing. This doesn't necessarily mean people who don't get as stressed as you - in fact someone who is going through the same emotions as you could act as a buddy and you could help each other to be more productive with your stress management.
4. Learn to let go
If you have a heavy workload or money/relationship worries, it makes you feel out of control. Feeling out of control causes stress. The more we fight to control a situation the more stressed it makes us. Accept that it's not possible to control every situation in life. Unclench your fists, lower your shoulders and stop screwing up your face. Take a breath and let it go - for instant stress relief.
5. Set a deadline
Parkinson's law says "work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion". In other words, if you set a deadline you're more likely to get a task done within that timescale. By not having a deadline, you're risking living a life filled with unfinished business. That's only going to lead to one thing: stress! Set a deadline on every task that comes up in your life and watch how much more you get done.
6. Be present and mindful
Stress is usually related to our past and future – worrying about what we've done and what we need to do. Take a second to appreciate this moment, right now. The more often you can live in the present the less stressed you're going to be. The past is over, and the future hasn't happened yet. Are they really worth all that worry?
Image Via Pinterest
7. Focus on what you want
Whatever you focus on, and put more energy into, you're going to get more of it in your life. Focus on being stressed, and there are no prizes for guessing what you'll get in return. Try focusing on what it is you want, and you'll naturally gravitate in that direction. Write down your targets and goals right now, and make those your focus.
8. Be grateful
Lack of gratitude breeds stressful thoughts and feelings. Practice being grateful for what you have, rather than worrying about what you don't have. Think about five things you can be grateful for right now. Take five every day and practice being more grateful.
You should also sometimes feel grateful for your feelings of stress as, without them, feeling relaxed wouldn't be as satisfying.
9. Know you can handle anything
Being stressed is a mindset, which means you have a choice. When you possess and reinforce the knowledge that you can handle anything that comes your way, you'll feel more confident to deal with any situation and go after whatever it is you want.
10. Take greater action
If you feel like your stress is becoming out of control, seek professional help and advice. You can also consult your GP.
Via Harper's Bazaar UK