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How Can You Reduce Your Stress Level?

What causes stress?

Stress is our bodies response to pressure. Many different events and situations can cause a stress response. Work stress, relationship breakdowns and bereavement are a few examples. The amount of stress we feel when a certain situation arises, will be unique for each individual. We react based on our childhood experiences, culture and life experiences. Our reaction will depend on factors such as the level of trust we have and how safe we feel in our ability to deal with the events that life throws at us. Stress is not inherently dangerous or bad, but chronic stress and its effects will lead to physical and mental problems at some stage. The way we deal with stressful circumstances has a big influence on how much stress we feel.

What physical changes occur in your body when you’re stressed?

When a stressful situation occurs, your body releases hormones which result in a fight or flight reaction and your immune system gets activated. Your nervous system responds to ensure that you take the action needed to make you safe.

This can save your life when you’re in a dangerous situation. When the danger has passed, your nervous system should return back to normal with no long-term effects.

However, when you experience continuous stress over a long period of time, your nervous system can become stuck in a fight or flight reaction. When this happens, you may feel overwhelmed and unable to cope. This situation can result in both physical and mental problems.

What reactions can you have to stress?

Apart from activating our fight or flight responses, stress can also cause other reactions:

Feelings

  • Anxious or fearful
  • Overwhelmed
  • Irritable or angry
  • Frustrated
  • Sad
  • Depressed

Body Reactions

  • Your thoughts are spinning
  • Headaches
  • Shallow breathing or hyperventilation
  • Nausea
  • Digestive problems
  • Muscle tension
  • Heart palpitations
  • Sleep problems

Behaviour Changes

  • May increase your smoking, drinking or eating in an attempt to relieve the stress
  • Withdrawal
  • Anger outbursts
  • Tearful
  • Indecisive and inflexible
  • Snapping at people

What can you do to reduce your stress levels?

It is important to be aware that you do have stress in your life. If you recognise the symptoms mentioned above, you are probably suffering from some degree of stress. It’s important to acknowledge that you’re stressed.

Once you’re aware that you’re stressed, you can make choices and start dealing with it. It is important to regularly regulate your nervous system to bring it back to a neutral position. If you’re unaware of your stress level, then you cannot regulate your nervous system.

3 tips for reducing stress

1. Take a few minutes every day to go inwards and check how stressed you’re feeling

Sit with both feet on the ground. Follow your breathing in and out a few times. This brings you into your body and your inner world. Notice how your body is while you breath in and out. Are there areas of tension or pain? Now notice your emotions as you continue to focus on your body and your breathing. Lastly, focus on your mind and thoughts. Notice what thoughts you’re having. The idea is to build awareness of your inner world, so just notice and don’t try to change anything.

Feel free to experience my Stress Reducing Meditation. See the button at the bottom of this blog.

 

2. Practice regulating your nervous system

Regulating your nervous system takes some practice. Meditation is a great way to build up inner awareness and resilience and reduce your stress. Yoga or any exercise is also beneficial. Breathing exercises help you calm down and regulate. Being in nature has a calming effect on most people.

Once you become more aware of your thoughts, you can choose to stop the negative worst case scenario thoughts in their tracks and focus on positive thoughts relating to a positive outcome. It’s important to acknowledge your stress and your feelings and not try to sweep them under the carpet. Ignoring the signals will increase your stress level.

3. Decide on some actions to reduce your stress

Doing something you love regularly helps to balance you and make you feel good. Self-care is very important. Be kind to yourself. Make sure you have some “me time” in your agenda. Share your feelings with others who can listen and empathise (don’t choose someone who will judge you). This makes you feel more connected and supported. See what you can stop doing, delegate or do differently to lighten your load.

Conclusion

Regularly regulating our nervous systems and reducing stress has long-term, sustainable health benefits. It may even prevent or reduce the effects of auto-immune diseases. It’s certainly worth regularly paying attention to by ensuring frequent regulation of your nervous system!

As the saying goes, “You cannot change what you cannot see.”

If you’d like some more tips to find more balance in your life, download my free guide “To create more balance in your life” https://imajencoaching.com/resources/

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