Stress Awareness Week

A client asked me recently what they should do about their stress. I replied, nothing!
At first glance, that may sound flippant, but let me explain.

How you talk to yourself

If I could banish any two words from your self-talk they would be should and but.

  • I really should mow the lawn today, but it’s chilly.
  • I really should lose weight, but I live for doughnuts.
  • I really should apply for jobs but I’m too experienced.

As soon as you tell yourself you should do something, you put yourself under pressure to do it.  But pre-supposes that it’s difficult to do and justified your reasons (excuses) not to do it.  So, change the way you talk to yourself.  Notice the difference with these sentences:

  • I fancy mowing the lawn today.
  • I’d like to lose weight.
  • I’m starting to apply for jobs.

Immediately, it sounds more promising and more likely that you’ll do it.  Adding the word and makes it even better:

  • I fancy mowing the lawn today and the weather’s looking great.
  • I’d like to lose weight and I’m cutting out doughnuts.
  • I’m starting to apply for jobs and my experience can only help.

The most common thing I remind my clients is to stop telling themselves off.  If you spoke to another person the way you speak to yourself, would that be ok?  Probably not!  Making a point of speaking kindly to yourself is the first step and it all begins with a bit of listening to how you talk to yourself.

Doing nothing

‘How can you advise me to do nothing when I’m so stressed?’ I hear you say.  It’s because you are so stressed that the last thing you need is something else added to your busy schedule!

Instead, doing nothing is a perfectly valid option especially when you can welcome thinking time into your life.  Quiet time gives you the space to think things through, to work things out.  A couple of minutes is a good start.

Here’s my favourite five doing nothing options that require very little effort:

  • Focus on a spot on the wall and allow your mind to wander.
  • Concentrate on your breathing and notice it slowing down.
  • Look at something beautiful (like a flower) and really notice how lovely it is.
  • Listen to your favourite piece of music (really listen)
  • Relax in a chair and allow solutions to waft up.

Many of the things we get stressed about really are all in the mind.  And before you hit the roof…

If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.
Take care.

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