Changing your perception of stress so you can let it go
Did you know it is claimed that “75% of adults reported experiencing moderate to high levels of stress in the past month and nearly half reported that their stress has increased in the past year – American Psychological Association” (http://www.gostress.com/stress-facts/).
If you were honest with yourself – are you someone who experiences stress? You may be reluctant to admit it, especially at work, or you may not want to admit it to yourself. But the statistics show that it is more normal to feel stress these days than to not feel stressed.
What is fascinating is the new thinking around stress – backed up by research – that in fact stress is not the real problem. It is our perception of stress which really has a negative impact on us. What if you could completely change your response, in the moment, without having to change anything around you? Kelly McGonigal in her book ‘The Upside of Stress: why stress is good for you (and how to be good at it)’ talks of stress that is either challenging, or threatening. I prefer the words resourceful or not resourceful – helpful or not helpful. You have the choice as to the two words to distinguish stress that is either causing you a problem, taking away your peace of mind – or stress which is more positive – that offers you challenge, drive, resourcefulness, whatever word will help you to be the high achiever you are – without having to change where you are.
For a moment reflect on how you think about stress. What words do you use and how do you perceive it – is it what we call above the line, resourceful thinking. We know that thinking is one of the most powerful activities we can do; it can change your perception on anything and can physically change the body at a cellular and DNA level. In order to make a change in our thinking, we first of all have to be aware of what we are thinking. It is claimed 95% of our day is outside of our conscious awareness, that is why Mindfulness is so powerful – it brings things to our attention – into the here and now. So, lets do that for a moment right now. Stop whatever you are doing and breathe deeply, breathing with a nice even breath in and out, being aware of the movement of air into and out of your body. As you quieten your body down, place your attention up to your head be aware of what it is you are thinking (in this case about stress) – and beyond that what meaning you place on what you are thinking about stress. This is the basis of mindfulness and is bringing to your awareness your current thinking around stress. This is the first step to making a change. It is that simple.
In the next article I will share with you a simple four step process for changing your perception of stress, which we know will change your experience of it. The process is all about you rewriting your own script to make stress release its hold on you, moving from your awareness of stress thinking and meaning, to redrafting a new way to think a bout stress – which will change the meaning you place on it.
Check in with the next article or get in touch if you are ready to change your relationship with stress once and for ever.