MOVING ON FROM STRESS PART 2
Four steps to change your perception of stress
Inthe July edition of Great Health GuideTM, I discussed ‘How We Perceive Stress’ Part 1 and I invited you to become aware of your current thinking about stress – what it means to you and what you tell yourself about it.
This article offers a four-step process to changing your internal meaning around stress. So, let’s explore that in a bit more depth.
Close your eyes, think of whatever it is you are calling stress/stressful.
As you bring that to mind, do you have a word, story, picture or feeling that helps you to know that you are stressed? Just spend five minutes getting as much detail as you can around that feeling.
• What words come to mind? Write them down – all of them.
• What story are you telling yourself? Is it about unfairness, injustice, lack of control – write the story down as if you were explaining it to someone else starting with, “It is like…”
• What picture, metaphor or analogy describes ‘stress’ to you most effectively? Write it down – or draw it, in such a way that someone else can understand it and feel it too.
• What do you feel in your body and where do you feel it? Write it down.
Now take a moment to decide whether that ‘stress’ is a useful resource to you in any way.
Are you ready to let it go, recognising the dis-stress it is causing in your mind, heart and body?
1. If you are ready to let it go - and only if you are ready (it is a choice) – go through your list and change each one. On a new sheet of paper record the following:
• What words would be more resourceful? Keep it true, so you can believe it. This is not about trivialising your experience or excusing poor behaviours, it is about reframing your experience, so it can be beneficial for you.
• For every word that you have written down – offer an alternative way of looking at it and describing it.
o Anger - may become determination to do something about it.
o Stuck - may become taking time to make a very clear decision.
o Pressure - may become the driver needed to act.
• Stay with it until you have an alternative for every word and imagine, erasing the old words in your mind and writing the new words or phrases where they used to be.
2. Now look at the story. You may find with changing the words that the story has already changed. Using the new words, how does the story pan out? Rewrite the story using the new plot, putting you back in charge.
3. How has the picture/metaphor changed now? Do whatever you know will work for you to make it a positive, resourceful image. Will you be empowered, successful, joyful? You can choose the words and emotions you most want to feel.
4. Notice how the feelings have changed. Take a moment to notice your feelings and how they have changed because of the new words, a new story and a new picture. Make a mental note of how you can do this in the future with other situations. You can be the author of your own empowering in the moment and you now know where to find that new feeling again, instantaneously.
This technique is powerful: it should not be used to tolerate poor situations or to put you at any risk.
It can empower you to make positive changes to ensure that you are in control of your own response, to whatever situations arise. It is clear from the literature that stress is becoming a normal part of everyday life. Life is fast pace, uncertain, unpredictable and often like a roller coaster ride.
We cannot change all of the world around us or how some people choose to act in the world. However, we can take absolute control of how we react and respond. Use this fourstep process to put yourself back in charge. By changing your perception of the stress in the moment (and when reflecting on difficult events) – you can make wiser decisions on what needs to happen.
WE CAN TAKE ABSOLUTE CONTROL OF HOW WE REACT & RESPOND; THIS FOUR-STEP PROCESS PUTS YOU BACK IN CHARGE.
• Do you act or walk away?
• Do you voice concerns or breathe quietly?
• Do you seek support and advice?
• Do you support others?
We always have a choice: This technique will help you create the space to see the choices available and make a wise response – just by changing your perception of the stress. By changing how we view stress, we can massively reduce its’ opportunity to have a negative impact on our physical and mental wellbeing. That too is a choice.
Dr Suzanne Henwood is the Director and Lead Coach and Trainer of mBraining4Success. She is also the CEO of The Healthy Workplace and a Master Trainer and Master Coach of mBIT (Multiple Brain Integration Techniques) and can be contacted via her website.