Stress: the ‘Hijacker’ in Our Lives
~by Maria Marc~
As the modern world expands to unimagined new heights, too often we find ourselves trapped in stress related illnesses, and we don’t know how to get out of it.
Researchers say that stress is not our enemy since it helps us move forward and strive for better, yet too much stress can hijack our lives.
Symptoms like low energy, headaches, insomnia, frequent colds or infections (among many others) could be hidden signs of stress.
Illnesses like depression are still largely disregarded, misunderstood, even defamed. In such conditions, those who suffer find it increasingly harder to deal with on their own.
We live in an era where both human race and planet earth are going through a lot of changes. If in the past, women had clear roles in the society; our modern times have no clear guidelines.
So, in this age of constant and unlimited opportunity offered to us by the Internet, what exactly should we do with ourselves?
Ruby Wax (2014), comedian, writer and mental health advocate, pinpointed a few concepts to focus on, to help survive the 21st century:
- If we are unhappy with our life, our inner voice might be the enemy, preventing us from taking steps to change it.
- We are emotionally underdeveloped, therefore prone to be unhappy in this modern world. Anger and jealousy are clear examples. We carry around angry feelings and we don’t know how to get rid of them. Accepting our emotions is the best way to deal with them.
- Some people are stroked more by negative emotions than others. Learning to read our body signals and develop practices for calming ourselves and regaining our strength are basic steps to deal with obsessive moments.
- Our brain contains three different parts that work in synergy: reptilian brain (how we eat and reproduce), limbic system (how we nurture children), and prefrontal cortex (how we manage self-control and consciousness). Sometimes our actions and thoughts contradict each other, creating imbalance.
- Hormones like endorphins, serotonin and dopamine affect our emotions and behaviors. These hormones increase our energy level, decrease stress and make us search for rewards. Too much or too little of these hormones can make us suffer.
- Constant stress can make us physically or mentally ill; it obstructs our immune systems leaving us vulnerable to diseases, and it absorbs our energy and willpower, living us exhausted and unmotivated.
- Our brains develop and physically change when we learn and have new experiences. Through practice and learning we can tenaciously rewire our brain so we can make ourselves happier.
- Practicing mindfulness (self-regulating our thoughts and emotions) can help us relax and reduce stress.
Training our mind operates by the same principle as exercising our body. Finding our personal anchor is what keeps us calm. Common stress reducing techniques are walking, reading, practicing yoga, or practicing mindfulness.
Here are few simple steps in practicing mindfulness:
- Acknowledge what is bothering you.
- Accept the fear; it is just a feeling and you can’t take charge of it.
- Investigate what exactly this negative feeling is doing to your body.
- Step away from that feeling; don’t identify yourself with it, but let it pass.
Before we can overcome negative emotions, we need to understand them in the first place. So, let’s take time each day to pause, lock out the rest of the world, and focus on our own self.
‘We know so much about how the world works – but so little about how our own minds work. It’s like having a Ferrari on top of your head but no one gave you the keys.’ – Ruby Wax
Meet the Author: Maria Marc
Maria recently launched her own consulting practice, www.OptimummCoaching.com, through which she offers
support in the areas of organizational change, continuous improvement and career transition.
Learn more about Maria: http://leadershipgirl.com/about-maria-marc/
Maria is a regular contributor for Leadership Girl.