Last week we looked at how music can help you deal with stress positively as part of Stress Awareness Month – this week we’ve got a guest post from Steve Tromans at Just be well the UK's largest team of Clinical Hypnotherapists and Master NLP Practitioners.
Steve knows his stuff when it comes to helping people to deal with their stress and he has over 16 years’ experience of helping people feel calm and regain control of their lives. If you want to find out more, there’s a massive library of downloads and CDs on the website, take a look and you might find something that helps you get to grips with your own stresses and strains.
Anyway, over to Steve:
My Stress Busting Tips
1. Breathe well. This is fundamental, ask any Yoga or meditation teacher. Watch a small child breathe. Unless the child is out of breath they will hardly move their chest at all. They breathe by gently expanding the diaphragm, their abdomen, and then just letting the abdomen gently return. Stressed, anxious or tense people tend to breathe with a tighter chest and abdomen. Learn to soften your chest and breathe abdominally whenever you remember through the day. Breathing well is one of the most under-rated resources on the planet. I cannot overstate how important this is.
2. Smile. Did you know that just the physical movements of a big smile changes your brain chemistry for the better, even if your eyes are not smiling. Half a dozen big smiles may well make you feel a little better. Obviously don’t do this on public transport or you may well scare people...
3 Laugh. Loads of research illustrate that laughter is good for you. It helps you breathe more fully as you have to take bigger breaths, and, importantly, it releases endorphins into your blood, the body’s natural feel good chemicals. To start with you will need to force this, and yes, you may well feel silly. Persist and you will begin to feel the benefits.
4 Posture. Did you know that your body posture affects your brain and body chemistry? When you adopt a positive posture you change the cortisol and adrenalin levels in your body for the better. Sit or stand up straight, keep your chin up, keep both feet planted on the floor, keep your shoulders relaxed and back. Just 2 minutes of adopting a positive posture can make a massive difference to the way you feel. The brilliant research of Harvard University’s Amy Cuddy demonstrates this well. Everyone should watch this video Posture Video
5 Sleep. Listen to a good relaxation or self-hypnosis recording as you drift to sleep. Sleep is fundamental to combat stress and anxiety. It’s easy, all you have to do is press the ‘play’ button and drift off. You are likely to sleep better; think of it as a gym workout for your mind.
6 Get a sense of perspective. The reason people go to the cinema is because the bigger the image you see, the bigger the impact on your feelings. There’s a world of difference watching a film on a big cinema and watching it on an iPod. Did you know this is the same inside your mind? If you make a big image in your head that upsets you then learn to simply move it rapidly into the distance, repeatedly. It doesn’t solve anything but it DOES tend decrease the emotion.... and it gets easier with practice.
7. Thanks for the memory. Focus on memories that make you feel good. Laughing with friends, bonding with your child, the most spectacular sunset you have ever see…. You have a stack of wonderful memories. Dwell on them a little more; spend a few minutes here and there deliberately remembering these times in your life when you felt wonderful. When you access a time in your life when you felt wonderful, make the thought bigger (the opposite of the last tip, obviously). Wrap yourself in the memory, remember what you saw and heard, and make everything bigger and bolder. Make your imagination a playground rather than a battlefield.
8. Keep falling in love. If you are in a loving relationship then deliberately spend at least a minute each day vividly remembering the times you knew you were falling in love. Do this to reconnect with your partner, do this to enhance the loving feelings, just do it.
9. Look forward to something. It doesn’t have to be a big thing. Maybe you are meeting with a friend you haven’t seen for a while for a drink, maybe you have a shopping trip organised tomorrow. Maybe it is simply a long warm bath this evening with lavender essence...
10. Master your inner dialogue. Have you ever heard a really annoying song on the radio that just gets stuck in your head no matter what you try to do? It can be really embarrassing to be humming the birdie song in a board meeting. Well the best way to get rid of the song don't like is to think of a song you do like, one with nice words, one that cheers you up. Turn the volume up and the old song you didn’t like will just fade away. This is also a fantastic metaphor for internal dialogue. How much time do you spend criticising yourself, or telling yourself how stressed you are? We all get caught in these internal dialogue loops from time to time, going on and on in our minds in a negative way. Sometimes for decades...
You can CHANGE the way you talk to yourself. The easiest way is to repeat what you just said to yourself in a completely different voice inside your mind, Make it silly, or make it sexy, or make it loving, whatever works for you. If you find yourself stressing about something then change your inner voice to Scooby Doo. If you find yourself lost in an inner rage then change your internal voice to Daffy Duck. Of course it is silly to talk to yourself in a cartoon voice, but it isn't as silly as being lost in a vicious circle of anxiety or stress or anger.
11 Look after yourself. Just thought I would mention the importance of eating lots of fresh healthy food drinking lots of fresh water and exercising appropriately for your current level of fitness. But you already knew that didn't you...
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