Another way to look at stress is to imagine that we have a ‘stress bucket’. The capacity of the bucket can vary from person to person depending on the experiences we’ve had in our lives and how these have shaped our beliefs and mindset.
Stress comes in to the bucket from a variety of different sources. (Doing a regular body scan as described above can help you to become aware of the things that add to the level of stress in your bucket.) We can start some days with a high level of stress, meaning that our bucket is already nearly full, and it only takes another small amount to make it overflow!
However we can take steps to help us deal with the stress. This has an effect similar to turning on the tap and allowing some of the contents in the bucket to drain away. Again this can vary from person to person but here are a few examples:
- mindfulness and meditation
- practicing saying No
- recognising and honouring our own needs, eg for sleep, rest, nutrition and hydration
- gentle exercise, such as swimming, walking, yoga, gardening
- spending time outdoors in natural light and fresh air
- doing things that you enjoy – reading, singing, dancing or other hobbies
- self care: booking in a session of aromatherapy, reflexology, massage or Reiki, for example
One very simple technique that can be used anywhere is simply to become aware of your breath. There are a variety of breathing exercises available so it’s worth trying a few to find out what works for you. One of my personal favourites is to place your hand over your heart, then breathe in for a count of 4 and out for a count of 6. Visualise the breath coming directly in to, and going out from, your heart. This helps to calm your heartbeat into a smooth rhythm which in turn ‘entrains’ your brain to a more relaxed wavelength. Just taking a moment to be still and taking a deep breath in this way, can help to give you that second to pause and choose how to respond in a situation rather than just reacting out of fear or anger.
Next week I’ll look at what’s happening in the body when we’re in stress and why it’s important to make time for rest.
(You can read the full article here)