If feeling stressed is taking its toll on your mind, body, sleep and general health, you’re not alone - the way we spot, view and react to stress can prove to be one of the hardest cycles to break.
With its manifestations being as far-reaching as the events that cause it, what can we do to safeguard our physical and mental health against its effects? “As a Life Coach, I believe stress is actually ‘mental’ resulting in the physical. Not the other way around,” says Get The Gloss Expert Jacqueline Hurst . “It’s about the mind first. I teach my clients and students that stress can be banished from your life by learning how to think right. Stress is in fact an emotion which can be changed via your thinking.”
Retraining your mind isn’t easy, but thankfully, not impossible. Here are 5 simple mind management tips that everyone needs to read to help kick start their de-stress journeys and restore a touch of calm amidst the chaos when work and life get tough.
1. Take a step back
Being in the eye of the storm can understandably cause our inner forecasts to hit some serious turbulence. However, remembering the wider picture often acts as a calming first step. “Sometimes it’s good to step back and ask yourself, ‘Is that going to make any difference in ten years’ time?’” says Jacqueline. “Ninety per cent of the time, the answer is no. Get perspective - put the issue you face into perspective, accepting that most of the things we worry about are not life-or-death issues. Try to mentally shrink what’s worrying you and it won’t seem like such a big deal after all.”
2. Don't be a bully
If we were to tape our inner monologues and play them back at the end of each day, odds are we’d be pretty shocked at how hard we were on ourselves. Often our own worst critics, our inner bullies no doubt fuel the fires of self-contempt, kicking us when we’re down and leading to greater feelings of stress, anxiety and low self-esteem. “Balance your expectations,” says Jacqueline. “So many of us have sky-high expectations on ourselves - way higher than we would set for anyone else.
“Whatever it is you are stressed about ask yourself how you would talk to a friend in this situation. Would you be yelling at her that she will never get it sorted out or is an idiot to have got into this situation, or would you treat her with kindness and love? Exactly…treat yourself nicely and be kind with your thoughts and the stress will slip away.”
3. See it as a sign for change
Could there be a positive flipside to stress? While stress in itself probably won’t do your body or mind any favours, it could be the pivotal factor which allows you to make a change for the better. “Noticing that you are ‘stressed’ can actually be good for you(!) because it’s a signal that you can either carry on doing what you are doing and getting the same results or that something is in need of change,” explains Jacqueline. “I think the best way to look at stress being good for you is that it is simply a signal for change.”
4. Start with a thought
…you’re more in control than you think. “Small changes can yield big results,” says Jacqueline. “First of all, our thoughts rule how we feel. It’s important to understand how we think creates our feelings so if we are feeling a feeling we don’t want to feel, like stress, we have to start thinking about things differently. We teach all our students at The Life Class how to think correctly because the truth is none of us were taught how to ‘think’ or deal with our ‘emotions’ at school and yet, this is so important to fully understand that your thoughts create how you feel. If you are stressed, the first thing to do is start by writing down your thoughts - get it out of your head and onto paper.”
5. Look for evidence to the contrary
Next, challenge your mind to look at the situation from a fresh perspective and break destructive habits. It won’t be easy at first, but just like a muscle develops with the right exercises, your mind will too. “Start to look at those thoughts. In other words are you choosing thoughts that feel good or feel stressful?” says Jacqueline. “Let’s say you are stressed about a presentation you need to do for work. If you are thinking ‘I can’t do this’ you won’t be feeling great. Instead, you need to start thinking about it differently to create a different feeling. Start challenging yourself on the opposite, in other words start looking for evidence to prove to yourself, why you absolutely CAN do it.” We get enough negative critique and discouragement nowadays, so give yourself a break - they shouldn’t also be coming from you too.