Stress is, in my opinion, the plague of the 21st century. It is often the cause of the worsening of any emotional difficulty.
Think about somebody who would define themselves as a worrier, they will be a very different person on holiday, versus in the middle of projects’ deadlines, schools runs, exams and day to day running of a household.
So you get my point.
We live in a society which runs at 100 miles per hour, constantly. We juggle multiple demands and commitments and we are so used to always be on the go that it might take us a whole week to slow down, when we finally reach those 2 weeks a year of planned relaxation.
Working harder and longer to stay on top of things and prevent drowning, worrying about the future to prepare ourself for worst possible case scenario (just in case) and making sure everything we do is to the highest standard to avoid mistakes, embarrassment and criticism.
With the result of feeling overwhelmed, burn out and in a constant spin that spirals out of control.
Add to this the Uncertainty of the current COVID-19 situation and you have a recipe for disaster.
If this sounds like you, welcome. You are not alone.
Every person I know, or got in contact with, me included, suffer from this in some way or another.
This is why it is my mission to teach people a better way of handling situations. A way that is scientifically proven to reduce stress and help manage our intolerance of uncertainty, which (like it or not) contributes massively to our feelings of stress.
I am a Psychologist, a CBT therapist, an ACT therapist and the founder of Crossroads Psychology a clinic that works in London and Online.
In this short blog post I can give you some quick an easy steps to apply in your daily life.
So let’s begin with some clarification.
Stress is the result of our perception.
It is what comes out of the rapport between our
Perceived Demands and our Perceived Resources.
The good news is that because the key word is PERCEIVED, just changing my perception will reduce stress.
So let’s Look at how we do that:
First of all I want to identify all of my Demands, everything I worry about.
Then, I need to differentiate what Demands are real problems happening right here right now (which I need to attend to, to avoid bad consequences) and which demands are WHAT IF… statements.
All WHAT IF… statements are PROBLEMS THAT ARE NOT HAPPENING here and now, and they may never will. So there is no point in investing any mental energy to try to solve a problem that is not happening or over which I HAVE NO CONTROL.
So the next question is:
Can I do anything about it?
And if the answer is NO,
then I need to LET that worry GO.
It is not a demand which is in my power to change, control or influence and worrying about it won’t change this.
I give you an example:
Let’s say the worry is ‘What if I lose my job’?
So the questions to ask are:
‘Is this happening now? Have you lost your job?’
if the answer is NO,
this is a just something that might or might not happen.
Not a reality.
Yes, but WHAT IF… you say.
Well, Can you do anything about it?
Sure, you can be a good employee, productive, be nice to your colleagues and managers, but other than that, this is not something that is in your power to control.
So rather that worrying about WHAT IF… you can concentrate on solving the real problems that cause that worry in the first place.
Are your performance indicator down?
Can you do anything about that?
This because worries tend to spiral. So before you know it IN YOUR MIND you have already lost your job, you have divorced as a result of the mounting tension of it and you will be homeless soon.
And if this is what is going on in your mind, this is what you REACT EMOTIONALLY to. Not the reality of the Uncertainty, but the possibility of Disaster. Feeling more and more stressed.
So now, (I hope you are still with me), the million dollar question is: ‘How do I let go?’
There are many techniques I tech to my clients to learn how to let go. But the all point here is that we want to increase our Perceive Resources.
Remember: Stress is what comes out of the rapport between our Perceived Demands and our Perceived Resources.
So let’s look at some techniques to increase resources:
Mindfulness is at at core of letting go, this because Mindfulness trains the mind observe thoughts without judgement. To notice a thought and purposely decide if engaging with it or not. And if that thought is not helpful, or points to something out of my control, I can chose not to engage with it and use my mental energy where it is more helpful.
I talk a lot about Mindfulness as it is an essential part of moving from living reactively to living with purpose.
You can join my mailing list below, to learn more.
Setting a worry time
This is deciding a specific time in the day (10-15 minutes a day, not close to bed time) where you are allowed to worry your socks off about anything you like. There is a catch though. Outside of these 15 minutes you are not allowed to worry at all. You keep a list of worries and POSTPONE them until your worry time and then Mindfully refocus on now.
Life is uncertain. It unfolds moment by moment. We can’t be sure of anything. Not even to be alive tomorrow. Does this means that I stop living? Absolutely not. It means that I can only do what is right for me now and that I need to POSTPONE JUDGMENT to a time where I will have FACTS (not suppositions) to base my judgement on.
‘Will I be promoted? Will I be fired? Will I find a partner?’ Or worse ‘ I will never…’
One last word of advice:
Reading about how to reduce stress WILL NOT reduce stress. Only PRACTICING the techniques, changing behaviour and habitues, exploring outside of our comfort zone will make the change.
So I hope you will TRY what we discussed and I will be here should you need me further.
Ready for a leap of faith?
Join our next Webinar here.
Leap and the safety net will appear.