The other day while researching and reading articles about life in general, I came across an interesting take on stress. It actually put stress in the category of a way for it to help you remain calm and kick it up a notch to help you do better.
Now I am definitely no expert on the subject of stress. I have my share just as everyone else does. I know what does help me when I am feeling stressful as well as what does not. So let me start with what does (and it actually was listed in some of the research that I was reading over). That is breathing! Breathing helps me put myself back in control. Have you ever tried that? Deep breaths in, hold it and then deep breath slowly letting it go. Sort of like you do in a yoga class, if you have ever taken yoga. What I did not know is why it works well and the reason is because it lets your nervous system know that it can "chill out." There apparently is a lot of research in this area if you are interested in delving deeper.
In a previous blog, I did talk of mindful meditation, which seems to be a key phrase tossed around these days. For me, it goes right along with the breathing exercises. It helps you to train your brain on the present....breathing, instead of trying to force yourself to calm down. Just simply sitting down silently with your own thoughts. Everyone has different feelings about this process. Some find it intimidating to sit quietly with their own thoughts so it takes a bit of creativity to help them find a way to channel their stress through breathing and mindfulness. One way that a person gave as an example that worked for her was before she walked into a potentially stressful meeting, she gave herself six seconds of mindful breathing before walking in to the meeting. Whatever works for you!
Another tried and true method is to talk to yourself. It has been proven to actually work in studies. Stand before a mirror and talk to yourself as if you were someone else. Use your name, not I, and tell the person in the mirror all of the good characteristics he/she possesses. Stress positive and strong traits and be firm. This is especially helpful before an interview or presentation. If you are thinking more about the positive effects of stress, it can improve your responses to challenging situations and help you learn and grow from the experiences.
The one study that I had trouble "buying in to" was to drink more coffee. This study was only performed on mice and not on humans as of yet. Well, I know my opinion of mice. And it is not positive. It seems that the mice who were given only water acted more helpless in performing memory tests, while those given caffeinated water did not exhibit any of those behaviors. This just seems a little bizarre to me, knowing that if I get too much caffeine, the jitters can set in and I don't perform well at all. Not sure about you, but I am thinking that I would need to see more data with this claim.
We all are in this world together and we know there is a lot of stress in everyone's lives. We just need to find ways to help each other channel it in more positive ways. If you read or watch the news, I believe that we all would agree that letting stress rule us and take over in negative ways is simply not the answer.