Posted: by Jo Tuesday, 31 March 2020 @ 13:00
April is Stress Awareness Month, intended to make us pay particular attention to ways of avoiding or managing stress.
And in these worrying and challenging times, stress is likely to become even more prevalent. People are worried about the health and wellbeing of themselves and their loved ones; about their jobs and livelihoods; about the future; add about how we move forwards through this crisis.
One of the first things to say is that stress isn’t necessarily bad, if it can be reframed as excitement, heightened attention to danger, or readiness to take action. It is primarily a physical response, causing the body to release a mix of hormones and chemicals such as adrenaline, cortisol and norepinephrine, to prepare the body for physical action.
The challenge is when our body goes into a state of stress in inappropriate situations. When blood flow is prioritised to the most important muscles needed to fight or flee, our brain function is minimised; and if we are kept in a state of stress for a long time, it can be detrimental to our health.
Our friends at The Stress Management Society use a bridge analogy to approach the topic of stress:
“When a bridge is carrying too much weight, it will eventually collapse. It is possible to see the warning signs before this happens, the bridge would bow, buckle and creak.
The same principle can be applied to human beings, with excessive demands and challenges placed on our bridges. There may be early warning signs, but it can still creep up on some of us, resulting in an unexpected breakdown.”
Look out for negative changes in the stressed person, which could be emotional, physical or behavioural. Bear in mind that the negative changes are also likely to have other effects such as short temper, poor performance at work, lack of interest in normal activity, or a feeling of overwhelm at seemingly small things.
Help is available, so use resources like the Stress Management Society or your local GP to help.
Here at Mantra, we can try to help during the early stage, before stress gets too bad. In the moment - breathing deeply and slowly is a way of calming our racing thoughts, as we seek to find that place of calm tranquillity deep within. Try breathing slower and deeper through the day, when you find yourself worrying or feeling anxious.
Reframing our thoughts, so something doesn’t appear as catastrophic as we first thought, can also help; and talking things through with a friend.
Another useful approach is to break life down into day-tight compartments, looking purely at one day at a time. Dale Carnegie quotes this approach, in his seminal work, ‘How to stop worrying and start living’ – reminding us to find peace of mind by focusing only on today, to stop ourselves being overwhelmed by the future.
You can read some of our mantras for remaining calm and positive here; or our mantras for resilience here.
Choose one of our new necklaces, the Lighthouse or One Day at a Time, if you are looking for a gift to help someone stay positive.