Seven Things You Can Do Today To Reduce Stress
‘The Greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another.’
—William James, 19th century philosopher and psychologist
Understanding Stress and Anxiety
There is hardly anyone today, child or adult, who does not understand stress and anxiety. Best understood as unreasonable pressure exerted on the mind and body, the two are often seen as productive, spurring individuals to exceed expectations. However, in situations when these become too great to be overcome, they become negative and begin affecting the mental and physical health of individuals.
While stress is a response to a demanding situation, anxiety, often, is a reaction to stress and includes a sense of unease, fear, or both. Most people affected by stress claim it has affected their lives moderately and fear situations that can lead to stress. Stress and anxiety are accompanied by physical and psychological symptoms and a prolonged exposure to these can result in heart and blood pressure-related health problems. Some of the common physical symptoms are: stomach ache, head ache, weakness, dizziness, sweating, change in sleeping patterns, loss of appetite, etc. In addition to these, there are also a few emotional symptoms, such as: feeling of despair, anger, panic, and nervousness (to identify the dominant few). If stress and anxiety occur more frequently or in situations where they manifest in the absence of triggers or have a longer, more intense reaction, then chances are it has become a phobia or a disorder. In such cases, it is advised to seek help as soon as possible.
Managing Stress and Anxiety with Neuro-linguistic Programming
Testimonies of survivors of a plane crash or a train accident have one aspect in common, all accounts invariably speak of an individual or a group of people who refuse to panic and assist the crew in evacuation procedures. More than success stories, these are the best-possible examples of behaviour when faced with an adverse situation.
Benchmarking such behaviour, neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) is all about reconditioning the mind to interpret a situation differently. Based on stimuli received from the five senses, the brain—as per past perceptions—proceeds to anticipate the outcome, which, incidentally, will not be radically different from what the brain has already visualized. With help from NLP practitioners, individuals will be coached to reimagine stressful situations and carve our success-oriented responses that will be based on well-researched behavioural patterns.
How Can NLP Help in Such Situations?
In addition to language, our mind zeroes in on programming or the visualization of stored content (either as internal landscapes or maps). A typical response is heavily influenced by past experiences which is based on the outcome and begins anticipating or working towards manifesting what it has already seen. This is exactly what NLP coaching aims to subvert. Our preconceived notions hold us back and once the mind is open to building new and positive maps or internal landscapes, chances of succeeding increase.
The worst we can do in an adverse situation is quit trying and with NLP the mind and body are aligned to assist one another. In some of the most sensational recovery cases, people who have emerged victorious after defeating a debilitating condition have spoken extensively about how they willed their bodies to expel the deadly disease; how they fought with their mind and never gave up. In other words, perseverance, determination, and an indomitable spirit is what distinguish such people as extraordinary. Different from herd/herd mentality, they have asserted their being at every level. NLP works on this very model and coaches people to push back on negative past experiences not allowing them to obstruct their current prospects. In a stress situation, NLP advocates flexibility in thinking. According to experts, those who respond to a stress situation by changing accordingly show the highest chances of surviving a demanding situation unscathed. Essentially, it is about communicating correctly, that is by saying, hearing, and repeating the right things are crucial in surviving a difficult situation.
Seven Things You Can Do Today To Reduce Stress
- Disassociation: As the name suggests, this is one of the ways in which we can push the negative thoughts, feelings, and emotions out of our system. Often a stress-inducing situation is accompanied by secondary triggers, such as sights, smell, or even sound. By disassociating or shutting the self down, we can cut the course of the negative triggers.
- Imagining a barrier: Imagining a physical wall is perhaps one of the most potent (and dramatic) ways of dealing with stress and anxiety. By giving a visual to the emotion of shutting down goes a long way in creating physical distance.
- Imagining resistance: Many researchers insist that our visual sense is the most powerful of the five and by extension a visual impact is the most intense. By imagining a stress-inducing situation being visibly away is helpful in curbing its effect and impact.
- Lowering the impact of secondary triggers: A stressful situation often comes with its share of palpitations and increased heart rate. Sounds such a thumping heart is one of the widely recognized templates of a stressful situation. In order to blunt its impact, we can try dimming the accompanying sounds of stress.
- Practicing positive self talk: Many of us talk to ourselves in stressful situations and during such times we should consciously try and say positive things thus breaking the pattern of reinforcing negative ideas. Phrases like ‘I can’t do it anymore’ or ‘This is too much’ are some of the oft repeated and should be mindfully avoided.
- Exercising: For those who can, exhausting the body can result in some of the fastest ways in which a positive change can be brought about. Exercising causes a specific hormone (endorphin) to be released which helps in boosting immunity and channeling positive thoughts.
- Maintaining a journal: By recording our thoughts and feelings we not only succeed in externalizing our worries but also have the advantage of analysing the situation objectively.
Most of us wish there’d be a time when there would be no stress; unfortunately, it can never be so. Given the hectic lives we lead, stress and anxiety are almost a surety. What can be controlled, however, is how we react to it. Using NLP we can use these incidents as triggers that can help us enhance our reactions, thereby increasing our chances of success.