An introduction to managing stress
The first step to a stress-free you
Hi, I’m Nick and thank you for joining me in my stress busting series. In this video we’re going to be looking at how stress works and the first step you can take to fighting it.
So, what is stress?
Stress is the body’s natural response to danger. It’s when our body’s defences kick in, equipping us to deal with what ever comes our way. These defences are a combination of:
- anger – which makes us stronger and ready to fight
- anxiety – which makes us alert and aware of everything around us
- depression – which shuts down the feel good chemicals, and encourages us to withdraw from situations
You may already know this as the fight or flight response.
If the danger was real, then these defences would be great. But modern life is not filled with the threats of the past. Unfortunately, the mind can’t tell the difference between what’s real and what’s imagined. So when we’re worrying why we haven’t had that phone call, or thinking about how late we’ll be because we’ve missed the bus or we’re annoyed because we’ve put on weight, we create anxiety and the fight or flight area of the brain activates. The more negative our thoughts, the stronger the stress response.
The effect of stress on the brain
Have you ever noticed that when you’re feeling stressed, your brain just seems to stop working and you can’t think properly? The reason is that 65% of the brain’s resources are being diverted from the intellectual part to the stress centres. That’s because we are wired for fight or flight in a stressful situation. Your brain doesn’t need you to think. It just needs you to get out of there and fast! So, we’re only left with 35%, which is why we often feel that we simply can’t cope.
Luckily, we have also developed a bigger, intellectual part of the brain, which is packed full of resources for dealing with situations in a calm, stress free way. When we’re in this bit, we’re able to cope with life, and things don’t seem too much for us.
So, to access these amazing resources available to us, we need to keep our thoughts positive.
Tips for remaining in the stress free part of the brain
Here are a few things you can do to allow you to stay in that stress free part of the brain:
- Start the day in a positive frame of mind – spend a few minutes each morning thinking about what’s been good over the last day . Think about what skills you have used and how that’s made you feel. Spend a moment thinking about what good things will be happening in the day ahead.
- Look for the changes already taking place within you. In this way you’ll be training your brain to be on the look out for all the positives.
- Focus your thought energy on how you want things to be, rather than how you don’t want them to be; on what you want to achieve today and in the future. Create a picture in your mind of yourself having achieved all you set out to, which will give you the motivation to work towards it.
The more you do this, the better at it you’ll become. You’ll gain more control over your feelings, you’ll be able to concentrate better, you’ll have a better ability to override strong emotions, urges, impulses and you’ll also have better management over stress.
Does positive thinking really work?
I know something as simple as positive thinking sounds like it couldn’t possibly help with something as big as stress. But do me a favour and give it a try – you’ll have lost nothing but you might gain a lot.
In the next video, we’re going to be looking at sleep and it’s involvement in stress. I’ll be sharing some additional resources, too, so don’t miss it.