Many of us have experienced moments where our heart pounds faster, our breath quickening and muscles tightening and that can be a sign of stress. Scientifically, this is due to a combination of adrenaline and cortisol released by the nervous system to prepare you for a time of emergency. However, there comes a point where this feeling caused by stress is so strong that instead of pulling you into action, it paralyzes you mentally and sometimes even physically.
And the first step to potentially avert this stress is to first start to be aware of what might be causing you to feel this way. This is by no means a medical diagnosis but a general introduction so that we can get started in this journey of stress management.
Some very common characteristics of external events that cause stress are large changes and lack of sense of control in those events. For example
- The news of illness or injury for yourself or your family
- Lost or change of job
- Difficult relationship or going through a breakup
- Financial concerns like debt
Other instances of stress can be more internal and cause us to feel stressed regardless of the external situation
- Pessimistic view on life
- Unfeasible expectations on yourself or others
- Lack of self confidence
While a piece of writing can hardly change the circumstances of your life, what we can try to do is introduce you to some tools that can potentially help change some of that perception or a channel to release some of that stress.
One way that I have learned to do that is through positive affirmation. Which is a way of reminding ourselves about a positive quality that we have or encouraging ourselves that we are getting there. And it is important that we do this with something that you truly believe is good about you or your life.
- Firstly, you can start with statements of positive self affirmation that you can speak out or write to yourself about. Or listen to a series of affirmation while having some quiet time. Remember, this is about creating a time and space to be truthful about yourself. Some examples of such statements are
- I trust that I am headed in the right direction
- I have the permission to do what is right for me
- I am grateful for the people in my life
- I am confident that I am [fill in the blank]
- I am good at helping others with [fill in the blank]
This will help you to start getting into the mindspace of being yourself more confidently and when stressful events happen, you can potentially deal with it better. Take note that this is not saying that you cannot grieve or feel bad about anything, but it is about gaining that ability to move forward even when dealt with a bad hand because you are strong.
- Next, you can start creating outlets of positive affirmation, and I feel like art is a good way to do that. As a subjective method of expressing your thoughts, there is truly no good or bad.
- Just pick up a paintbrush and some paper and let yourself go. As you immerse in the strokes and colors, ideally you allow your mind to take a breather and when you complete the work, you allow yourself to feel good about the work you have created, generating the positive affirmation to tackle the next item on the list.
- On top of that, exercising is a great reliever of stress from multiple studies and it is said that most people view themselves more positively after 20 minutes of exercise. Many report feeling more energetic overall too! And the achievement of getting that task done gives yourself the affirmation boost as well. The saying of “healthy body healthy mind” didn't just come from nowhere. And do not forget to stretch to maintain that mobility as you to continue feeling good!
Ultimately, it is important to keep yourself resistant to stress by developing a strong center of yourself and resilient perspective. And some ways to do so is through positive affirmation, artistic expression and building a healthy body. Stay strong!