Recalibrate your stress levels
Parents with young families often find their stress levels rise hugely over the holiday period. Kids are tired, routines are out-of-kilter, parents are busy and the build-up to Christmas can actually be a time that many parents start to dread!
In this extract from her book Stress Less, best-selling author and life coach Sarah Laurie, shares her practical tips on changing the way we approach and deal with the stress in our lives.
What can you tell us about the change in thinking that’s required to address stress?
One of the most fascinating facts that many of us don’t realise is that it is physical. Stress feels emotional and overwhelming however it functions in our brain in a very physical and precise manner. When we understand this, it helps us realise that it’s not necessarily what’s happening in our life that’s of most consequence; it’s what is happening in our brain. We also realise that the way to manage it initially, is very precise and physical as well.
So, where do we begin in order to reduce the effects of stress?
We absolutely need to begin by deciding to address stress immediately. To my point about stress being physical; if you were to break your leg you would immediately go to hospital to have it fixed. Yet for some reason we accept stress in our life and do not take the same responsibility for overcoming it. Your stress does not control you - you are in control of it.
What is the one top tip that will make a difference?
Ease your stress response. Your brain works in patterns, so a pattern of anxiousness and busy-ness will continue, until you ‘instruct’ your brain that you are safe. You may have deadlines, but not danger.
To do this, set your alarm every 90 minutes and pause for 60 seconds to breathe steadily and turn away from what you’re focusing on. Just these 60 seconds will recalibrate your brain and signal that you are at ease. You will most likely quickly return to your anxious state if that’s become your pattern, hence the need to do it again 90 minutes later. This may seem unsubstantial, however over the course of a few days you will begin to feel calmer, and then more inclined to put in place other strategies. This is a sign that your stress pattern is easing.
So to be even more specific, set your alarm for 90-minute intervals and take bite-size control of the stress.