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6 months ago · · 0 comments

How to cope with stress and anxiety in this busy world

How to slow down to beat stress and illness

stress and anxiety
When you push yourself too hard physically and emotionally you can find that you take a lot longer to recover from colds and flu. Modern life does not tend to present you with many opportunities to take time out to fully recover from mild illness. Thus, once your obvious symptoms dissipate, you tend to either feel too guilty to continue to rest and recuperate, or you have too much on your plate to do so.
There are a finite number of hours in the day and your list of ‘to-do’s’ can often feel overwhelming, leaving you little time to allow yourself permission to rest. This is particularly true for high level professionals and parents, who are relied upon significantly by others – day in and day out. In addition to external pressures, it’s very common to feel guilty about resting, when there is still so much more to be undertaken and achieved.

 

So, how do you fully recover from illness in order to function at your optimum – most of the time?

In order to recuperate fully and feel your best, there are the ‘usual’ things to do, such a sleep well/enough and eat well. However, in reality recent research shows that in order to achieve your ever growing list of tasks, most people find it easiest to skimp on sleep. Shaving a few hours here and there can add a significant number hours to your year, so it’s no wonder it’s so tempting to give it up and thus to squander the recommended 8 hours of good quality sleep a night.

Taking it slower to beat stress and illness

Instead of trying to change your sleeping habits, a quick and easy way to improve your health (before, during and after illness) is through slowing down. Most people tend to make the misguided assumption that in order to succeed in life, one must move with speed. The problem with this theory is the body’s reaction to being placed under pressure on a regular basis – STRESS. Regular, ongoing stress has been shown to cause a short-term reduction in IQ and can have a significant impact on your self-confidence and self-esteem, particularly if the anxiety turns into depression. This is why, it can be very difficult to think clearly and make rational decisions with you’re stressed. Chronic stress leads to increases in the chance of making mistakes and having to end up working even harder to amend these mistakes. Rushing around tying to achieve a million things in a day/week/month/year usually ends up resulting in a lot of wasted time and energy.

Taking a breath

In contrast, if you were to start your day with a few deep breaths, 5 minute relaxation exercises and made a conscious effort to slow down, you would be able to think more clearly and rationally and thus be much more productive during the day.

For instance, most people arrive at work and feel anxious as soon as they begin to look at emails, to-do lists and speak to other stressed co-workers. They tend to spend the day frantically trying to spot multiple fires, feeling overwhelmed, stressed and unproductive. If instead of this strategy, they walked into the office, took out a notepad and began to scan through emails, to-do lists and verbal requests from staff first thing in the morning and then developed a daily priority list, they would be able to tick off the most important jobs they had achieved that day. This would in turn provide both a feeling of achievement and a sense of control.

Undertaking such a morning task would take between 15-30 minutes per day, but would give back many more hours of productive work in return. The act of slowing down and gaining control is vital for health and wellbeing, particularly in this busy world we live in.

Your mind significantly impacts your physical health and emotional state, so if you’re feeling run down or overwhelmed, try to simply slow down. Try it for 1 week and see how much it improves your life.

Lizzie O’Halloran, Founder of Help For Mums and Author of Refresh Your Life & Perfect Mum

7 months ago · · 0 comments

The best stress management techniques to heal the past

Is the past holding you back from achieving your best or even from living in the present?

The amount of time you spend really living is directly related to the time you spend thinking about stress in your life.  Your current health is also directly influenced by how much you allow the stress in your life to impact you. This stress is often brought forward from your past into your current life and will continue to affect you until you directly deal with it.

A good example of this is the stress caused when trying to lose weight. There has never been more information about dieting, how to lose weight, the best foods to eat and so on. The weight loss industry is a billion dollar industry with diet pills, medical treatments, diet programs and so on. Yet, the number of adults, children and adolescents who are overweight around the world, continues to rise. This is not because individuals do not know what to do to lose weight. Most people can tell you, it’s just a matter of reducing sugar, processed foods and bad fats and increasing exercise. However, there is a mental block that prevents many people from following through and living a healthy and happy life.

The underlying beliefs, values and past experiences are what hold people back from achieving their weight loss goals. For instance, Roseanne Barr once noted in an interview that she discovered that she was blocking herself from losing weight as a result of childhood abuse. This abuse had caused her to want to cover aspects of her body with excess weight. It was only when she discovered this, that she realised why her dieting was not working – she was fighting against this underlying (unconscious) trauma and it would always win. This realisation helped move her past negative experiences holding her back and enabled her to finally lose the weight.

Another good example is procrastination. People often assume they are procrastinating because they are lazy or do not have sufficient motivation. However, the reason most people procrastinate is there something in the unconscious holding them back from acting. For instance, a student will avoid study due to an internal belief about being a failure; an employee will avoid a task at work due to an unconscious belief about making mistakes; a self-employed person will avoid working due to internal beliefs about it being too hard. All these avoidances are caused by underlying issues that are very difficult (or take a very long time) to address without tapping into the unconscious first.

stress management and the brainThe human brain is wired to protect you, so it’s going to fight against your rational (conscious) beliefs and strategies if it thinks they are not in your best interest. So it is here in the unconscious part of the brain that you need to begin in order to move past negative past experiences and to begin to reduce the current stress in your life directly caused by these negative experiences.

What’s the best treatment to overcome stress from the past?

In therapy a lot of the things that cause people current stress is past and present relationships, however it is very difficult to heal the influence of negative past events through simple ‘talk’ therapy. The reason for this is that on a very simple level the human brain is made up of the conscious (what you are aware of) and the unconscious (what you are not aware of) parts. The conscious parts are those that you hear on a regular basis – you inner voice. This is the part of your brain you train through traditional therapy. The problem here though is that the unconscious part of the brain is much bigger than the conscious part, so it plays a huge part in your motivations and behaviours day to day. This is why it can be very frustrating to make a conscious decision to do something, only to break your decision soon after (for instance, making a conscious decision to lose weight, only to binge on sweets the next day).

The best stress based treatment combines conscious (traditional therapy) and unconscious (e.g. Neurolinguistic Programing, Hypnosis, Emotion Freedom Technique, etc) in order to have lasting impacts. The unconscious strategy gets to the heart of why you are continuing to have current stress reactions and the conscious strategy provides the tools for stress management in every day life. The unconscious strategy, such as NLP works to re-wire negative events in the past, to eradicate negative internal beliefs and to heal past trauma. The conscious strategy, such as cognitive behaviour therapy in traditional counselling, works to train your brain to act in a manner that is more consistent with your values, desires and beliefs. Thus, the best way to prevent current and past stress from impacting negatively on your life, is through a combined conscious and unconscious therapy strategy. By doing both, you have a much more powerful and long lasting effect on your overall life.

Coping with stress

Stress has a profound impact on your life. If you’ve been struggling trying to overcome stress, it is most likely due to things in your unconscious holding you back. So, it’s worth looking into combined strategies that will work on both the conscious and unconscious aspects of your brain so that you can effectively move forward without being held back from your past experiences.

 

Lizzie O’Halloran, BBSc, MASR, NLP Prac

Founder of Help for Mums and Author of Perfect Mum and Refresh Your Life

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