Stress Reduction Strategies: The 3 Causes of Stress
Stress reduction strategies are important in today’s busy world. In 2016, I did 8 weeks of mindfulness training. It was a life-changing part of the Bulletproof Coach Training Certification, giving me the tools to be a calmer person (much needed for a type A gal like me).
Stress in chronic high doses can wear down your immune system and adrenal glands, cause weight gain, and keep you from reaching your full potential… Duh! But what do you do about it?
How can you become a more mindful person? Instead of avoiding stressful situations, you can face it head on and practice some of the stress reduction tips mentioned below.
Here are 3 reasons why you’re stressed and how to hack it.
Reason #1: Resistance
When we face an unplanned & unfavorable challenge or outcome, it’s human nature to resist it. Perhaps we think avoidance will cause the issue to go away or lessen our pain. However, it’s the opposite. In the words of Carl Yung, “What you resist persists.” According to Ph.D. Candace Pert, author of Molecules of Emotion, unreleased emotional stressors have been linked to various diseases and physical conditions.
Stress Reduction Strategy:
Practice acceptance. Acceptance does NOT mean that you have to avoid taking actions to change a stressor, nor do you have to pretend to like it. Instead, it means that you have come around to seeing things as they are. Here is a journal exercise you could use to overcome resistance:
- Write down why the stressor concerns you. How does it affect you personally? How does it make you feel? When does resistance come up for you? Maybe you don’t know why it bothers you so much & that in itself is frustrating. Whatever it is, putting it down on paper will create awareness.
- Write down the pros and cons of the stressor. How could this stressor be good for you? Maybe it challenges you to be better or is forcing you to be more mindful. Maybe it’s bringing up an old belief system that needs to change. How is the stressor bad for you? Maybe it’s distracting you or causing you to be short-tempered with others.
- Write down what you’re going to do (or not do) about it. Loss of control and fear is the root of resistance. By writing down how you are going to surrender &/or take action to change the current situation, you will feel in control again. The stressor will not have as much power over you.
Reason #2: Burnout
We are taught that being busy & working hard is heroic. Constantly aiming to please our families, boss, and friends leaves us little time for decompressing. Many of us live in a state of survival mode, just trying to get through the day. It’s important to realize that RECOVERY is a part of the success cycle. After a re-charge, you’ll be more equipped to kick butt in life.
Stress Reduction Strategy:
To prevent burnout, you have to include self-care in your daily life. You’re better able to serve others, perform well, & be creative when you invest in your health. According to The Association of Psychological Science, the 3 types of burnout are overload (working to exhaustion), lack of development (unable to cope well with stress, distancing themselves from work), and neglect (giving up in the face of barriers). In addition to healthy eating, exercise, and high quality sleep, here are a few tips for preventing burnout:
- Develop a high performance & renewal routine: Science shows that taking a small break every 60-90 minutes increases productivity. Use short 10-30 minute breaks throughout the day as creative fuel. Try meditation, step outside, take a quick nap, have a tea break, or complete a quick burst of exercise.
- Experiment with stress supplements: L-Tyrosine reportedly mitigates some of the damage of environmental stress. Taking a B vitamin complex has been shown to reduce the effects of occupational stress. Adaptogenic herbs like Adrenal Response act upon your sympathetic nervous system.
- Make time for your hobbies: If you base your self-esteem on your work & how dedicated you are, burnout is bound to happen. Shift your perspective, knowing that it’s okay to say NO to certain projects and activities. Once you start committing to the essential tasks instead of everything that comes your way, you may realize that you’re able to enjoy your hobbies without feeling guilty.
Reason #3: Expecting perfection
Do you have a self-defeating voice in your head with unrealistically high expectations? You may be a perfectionist. There are 2 types of perfectionism: neurotic and healthy. Healthy perfectionism consists of feeling inspired to take action towards a goal, while learning along the way & celebrating small victories. Neurotic perfectionism is when you constantly fear that you’re not doing enough. Research has linked neurotic perfectionism to an increased risk of death & poor physical health (due to the mental pressure put on oneself).
Stress Reduction Strategy:
To stop neurotic perfectionism from stressing you out, you have to become aware of your tendencies and patterns. Awareness puts you control instead of allowing your thoughts to consume you. Try out the exercise below:
- Write down your perfectionist thoughts & expectations. Start jotting down the thoughts that are keeping you from feeling at peace. Then, make a list of the expectations you have for yourself as a mother, employee, friend, etc.
- Go through the list asking “Would I expect my loved one to uphold these standards?” Which of the standards that you’ve written down seem unreasonable? Cross out any that feel inauthentic and unrealistic.
- Review the remaining list of expectations. Ask “What edits would I make to these standards if they were for a loved one?” Write down small changes you’d make to make your standards more compassionate.
- Hold yourself to these more humane standards. It’s okay to make room for mistakes and learning. By opening yourself up to failure and having a growth mindset, the fearful perfectionist voice in your head will quiet down.
Practice these stress reduction techniques and you’ll be feeling more resilient than ever before! How do you alleviate stress? Comment below!