Stress Management 101
Obligations, bills, work, family, health, financial concerns, can I pay that bill – life has its challenges but how we handle the problems can lead to stress or success. For many, life can be challenging. In a nutshell, we have the ability to remain calm and in control, if we handle ourselves properly. Learning the basic steps to do so can be more simple than you think.
Try this exercise:
List out every little thing that stresses you out. Here’s an example of a few:
- Getting to work on time.
- Being stuck in traffic.
- An upcoming meeting with the boss.
- Interacting with the in-laws.
- Confronting your child after they crashed the car.
Now it is your turn. Create your own list until nothing else comes to mind. When complete, take a look at what you wrote down. This is what has been weighing on your consciousness for a long long time. Do you want it to run you or do you want to take charge of your internal affairs?
The next step is to take in a deep breath, exhale, and rip up this list. There is an option to burning it if you enjoy burning things like me. Feel any better?
Of course, our problems aren’t as simple as getting rid of like that, but on some level, you get to release some energy. This energy can be used in beneficial ways once you get cracking on our four-step process.
It is fascinating how our minds can create panic. A thought can touch an emotional part inside of ourselves, create intense fear, and physically our blood pressure spikes, our heart starts racing, and soon we are gasping for breath. This is from a single thought. This is not unique to ourselves. One out of five people suffers from a mental health condition that warrants mental health treatment. When you find yourself anxious all the time, medicine will help, but getting to the root cause is the most effective treatment.
We have been trained by society to obsess about the things that are troubling us. “Plan for the worst and hope for the best”, so we focus on “What is the worst thing that can happen?” Unfortunately, our mind is so powerful that we create the worst things. In the statement “I don’t want to be anxious anymore”, the subconscious mind doesn’t hear the word don’t it only focuses on anxious and we become afraid. Instead of focusing on what you don’t want, simply focus on what you do want: “I’d rather be happy”. Even reading this makes you feel better because it gives our mind something to attach itself to.
Still, treating Stress is a bit more complicated than that and will take a daily effort on your part to incorporate the tools to use to keep you in balance. The real issue is, are you willing to put the effort into you?
With the focus on pleasing others, pleasing ourselves can be really foreign. Some people call it being selfish or narcissistic but until you turn your focus on improving yourself then the problem will continue to show up, over and over and stronger and stronger. We ask you to use the following format a week and if you don’t find success, at least you gave it you’re all. At that point, try something else. We are hopeful that you will find the ultimate solution for you.
THE FOUR STEPS:
There are four components to keep in mind when you are faced with stress: Your physical body – which gets tense and pressurized; your thoughts – which tend to be negative and irrational (at times); your feelings – which can feel like you are trapped and going to experience doom; and your spirit – the feeling that God has abandoned you or you feel like you are under Demonic attack.
With Existential Psychology, if you don’t have any beliefs about God, it creates existential panic which is the belief that life is just a death sentence and are simply doomed to forever nothingness when you die. Therefore therapists work with clients to come to terms with their mortality.
How to Use the Steps
To create more peace, happiness, and wellbeing in your life, all four components within you need to be addressed. To begin the task, you need to make a commitment to yourself to be your first priority. If you are waiting for someone or something to come along and rescue you, think again. This is your life and you are the only one that can really do this. This is your assignment for the next week to do the following day.
- Relaxation: Relaxation is a big antidote to stress. To relax properly do so a few times a day. Do this in a place where you will be undisturbed for at least a half hour. Create an atmosphere of relaxation, make the lighting just right, and lay down or be seated in a comfortable position. Next pay attention to your breathing. Inhale relaxation and exhale tension. Focus on your feet and relax them, then scan upwards slowly and relax your body all the way to the tip of your head.
- Light Exercise: Move your body around for at least fifteen minutes to get the blood flowing. Walk, slow dance, Tai Chi are excellent for the body.
- The Problem list: (mentioned above)
- Free Form Writing: Free form writing is simply writing out on paper whatever comes to mind. Make sure to give yourself at least 20 minutes to do so. After you are finished rip it up.
- Intentions: A major part of stress is in regards to your intentions. An intention is simply the direction of your focus. For example: “My intention is to burrow through my stack of work.” Well, there is a lot of stress involved in sprinting to the end of a project just in time to get on to the next. If you desire to be at peace, then set a different intention. For example: “My intention is to be relaxed while I work on this report”. Happiness is not only found at the destination but also found on the journey. Make chores enjoyable. Wouldn’t that be a better intention? Start off each segment in your life with an intention. “My intention is to enjoy my drive home from work”. “My intention is to be loving towards my spouse”. If you want more peace, be more peaceful inside.
How is your relationship with yourself? Do you even have one? So many people define themselves through the eyes of others. Bottom line what type of person do you think you are? Are you your first priority or are others more important? These top the list of our emotional makeup. If you don’t like you – then start. You are the only one that is going to get you through life’s difficulties.
- Self-Praise: To create better emotional wellbeing, praise yourself throughout the day for the efforts you are taking to better yourself. “I appreciate myself for relaxing this morning”. This is called Catching Yourself Doing Something Right. You have two choices right now, to continue beating yourself up or being your new best friend – which do you choose?
- Opposite Hand Writing: On the emotional level it is important for us to bond with yourself. The easiest way to do so is by creating a relationship with the child you. According to Object Relations Therapy, all mental illness has its roots in early childhood experiences. That younger you doesn’t want to get hurt again, therefore it cowers deep inside and obsesses about remaining safe. Calm your inner self through a great tool called Opposite Hand Writing in which, on paper, you have a conversation with that scared part of you. Allow your dominant hand to represent you now and the opposite hand to represent the younger you. Have a conversation. Ease the mind of the younger you. Praise that part for being brave. Before you reject this approach, there is a lot of science to it. When you use your opposite hand, it is awkward and it can bring to the surface deep-seated emotions that you experienced when you were first learning how to write or draw. When we have a huge panic response in our life or are deeply depressed, often the root can be found in your developing years.
NOTE: In working on unresolved emotional issues, it is best to work with a trained therapist because often times we can regress to the mindset of a child when working in this area. This isn’t a bad thing at all, it is part of the healing process. What is important to understand is that sometimes we need the expert guidance of a professional in order to clean out difficult issues from the past.
We are Spiritual Beings having a Human experience. Well, at least that is the slogan of Spiritual Psychology.
- Meditation: To get in touch with your spirit, sit quiet and breath. Allow your mind to go blank. There is nothing at this moment that is important to do so just be. Feel your radiance. What a gift you have been given – this body, your family, your friends, the experiences you have gone through, this life. Picture you and give yourself a loving hug. Next one by one gives mental hugs to the people that you love. In doing so it helps us open up to the loving energy of the Universe. God is love. The godliest thing we can do is love ourselves and love others. Take the time to breathe in this love and send it out with the exhale.
- Prayer: Prayer helps foster an intimate connection with Our Creator.
There is much more on this subject and these simple tools are found in our Intensive Outpatient Program at Basic Steps Mental Health. Just imagine spending four weeks in a program that focuses on healing the underlying emotional issues that lay at the root of the problems in your life. These problems just don’t vanish on their own, but can be processed through given the proper guidance. Consider taking part in this program to experience the amazing you that is underneath all the problems – the authentic you.
For more information, call us at (425) 588-8438 to schedule a free one-hour consultation.