Managing Your Stress Levels

It might be your automatic reaction? Nothing new. If it is, so we’ll conquer and general knowledge we would experience so much stress? Knowing it cognitively and process it internally are two different things.

Do you live your knowledge? You also know it is advisable to drink 8 glasses of water a day for better health but how many people do it? Although you know you will feel better, why don’t we do what we know is good for us, and by not doing it, we feel guilty. It might be laziness or lack of self-discipline or a ‘don’t care’ attitude towards self and others. People who achieve success have many specific characteristics. We are in the position to see how your role model handles stress in any area and copy him.
Page 98 of The Book of Joy by the Dalia Lama and Desmond Tutu says:
“Psychologist Elissa Epel is one of the leading researchers on stress, and she explained to me how stress is supposed to work. Our stress response evolved to save us from attack and danger, like a hungry lion or a falling avalanche. Cortisol and adrenalin course into our blood. This causes our pupils to dilate so we can see more clearly, our heart and breathing to speed up so we can respond faster, and the blood to divert from our organs to our large muscles so we can fight or flee. This stress response evolved as a rare temporary experience, but for many in our modern world, it is constantly activated. Epel and her colleague, Nobel Prize-winning molecular biologist Elizabeth Blackburn, have found that constant stress actually wears down our telomeres, the caps on our DNA that protect our cells from illness and ageing. It is not just stress but our thought patterns in general that impact our telomeres, which has led Epel and Blackman to conclude that our cells are actually “listening to our thoughts”.

The problem is not the existence of stressors, which cannot be avoided; stress is simply the brain’s way of signalling that something is important. The problem – or perhaps the opportunity – is how we respond to stress.

Epel and Blackburn explain that it is not the stress alone that damages our telomeres. It is our response to the stress that is most important. They encourage us to develop stress resilience. This involves turning what is called “threat stress”, or the perception that a stressful event is a threat that will harm us, into what is called “challenge stress”, or the perception that a stressful event is a challenge that will help us grow. The remedy they offer is quite straight forward. One simply notices the fight-or-flight stress response in one’s body – the beating heart, the pulsing blood or tingling in our hands and face, the rapid breathing – then remembers that these are natural responses to stress and that our body is just preparing to rise to the challenge”.

To be stress fit we need to change our lifestyle. The old story goes get enough sleep, exercise, healthy food, some fun, but what most people leave out is the “power to meditate”. You should meditate 10-15minutes every morning on a subject.

Meditation in the sense means to focus on it positively “I am handling today’s stress better and better”. “Never mind the situation, I with help, will master it”. “All things, stepping stones or stumbling blocks, have a purpose”.

While you are in an overwhelming situation and feel you can’t cope, take a few minutes to look at it through the eyes of someone that might not know what they are seeing.

The “in the moment stress” is hard, you feel there is no out. Your life over will play a major role in that if you take the Buddhists “that life is filled with suffering called Dakha. You will find it very difficult. On the other hand, if you believe in Sukha, joy and pleasure, there are various techniques.

Always have something to look forward to, even if it is a cup of coffee.

Make sure your lifestyle has many pillars of health in it as it will give you more strength to fight it.

Think about other difficult projects you’ve had to overcome. Rekindle that energy. Feel it. Visualise it. Hear the sounds accompany it.

[All people experience stress and frustration from time to time but the bottom line is how quickly can you bounce back to your more positive view. Put your thoughts into perspective by taking a holistic view. Imagine how much worse the situation could be. This will enable you to view your original reaction in a better light. Consider your values: Are you getting worried about something that is unimportant in relation to the bigger picture? Are things out of your control? There are factors that you can do nothing about such as the company being taken over by another firm. Worrying or stressing about the situation isn’t going to improve things in any way but will definitely increase your anxiety. So rather take proactive measures. Should you receive information about a possible takeover, there are steps you can take such as making sure your work is beyond reproach and dusting off your resume. In every situation there is something which you can control. Begin by managing your stress levels (extract page 89 – Dr Cecile Gericke, Dance on your Glass Ceiling)]

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