Stressing the point - Part 2
SummaryIn the second part of our feature about stress we look at five more easy methods for reducing your stress levels…
In the second part of our feature about stress we look at five more easy methods for reducing your stress levels…
6. Forget being number one The desire to be the best has been the impetus behind many of humankind’s greatest achievements but it is also a primary driver behind depression and, therefore stress. Every day we are indoctrinated with an idea of success manufactured by advertising executives and film writers but we seemingly find it impossible to see the contradiction between George Best the footballing god and George Best the incurable alcoholic being the same man. Nobody is perfect in the real world, David Beckham is a bit thick, Stephen Hawking is no looker. By adopting more realistic expectations for your life it’s possible to feel a lot less pressure to succeed, and hence a lot less stress. Obvious examples would be the fact that you shouldn’t expect to spend as long in the office as the new single, young executive types, nor should you expect your average height child to be powering past the kid with freakishly long legs in the school sports day’s 400 metres. By learning to set ourselves more realistic expectations we increase the possibility of achieving them and the feeling of satisfaction this gives us.
7. Look at things differently This is basically the practice of seeing the half-full glass. Our feelings are almost always a direct result of the way we think. Breaking up with a partner can therefore be a great opportunity to meet new people, losing a job becomes a chance to look for something that you really want to do. Of course reframing such life changing events is hard but the same principle applies to the little things whose cumulative affects can serve to cause you unnecessary stress. Seeing that annoying new McDonalds advert can become a chance to make a cup of tea for someone, having to use public transport if your car’s in the garage is a great opportunity to read that book or article you’ve been saving. In the same way, you can use the practice of reframing to help you avoid being stressed by the actions of others. Everyone eventually realises that sometimes your parents shout at you just because they’re having a bad day and it’s the same with your boss or colleagues, or the person pushing into the cinema queue in front of you. By empathising with the possible reasons behind the actions of others we can become much less intolerant and therefore much less stressed by their actions.
8. Don’t be dogmatic As we mature we find ourselves adopting certain axioms by which we live but sticking to these rigidly can lead to us becoming stressed. Many of us see ourselves as tolerant individuals but become outrageously wound up by things that our children, friends, work colleagues or spouses do, even though they don’t harm us. This stress results from our maintenance of certain beliefs that have no solid basis in fact. Beliefs like the toilet seat always needs to be down, toothpaste should always be squeezed from the base of the tube, and all the other little life rules that somehow become part of our psyche, ask yourself, do they really matter?
9. Let it all out While the practise of running around naked in the woods hugging strangers and howling at the moon may be a little extreme for European tastes the principle of releasing and sharing emotions has a sound basis. Often all that is needed to reduce stress levels is someone to talk to. Doctors often find themselves on the receiving end of lengthy monologues from patients which have little to do with their health and more to do with their worries. At the end of these speeches the patient invariably feels better and this feeling is wrongly associated with going to the doctor rather than with talking about a problem with someone who is concerned. If you aren’t comfortable confiding in a friend then get online and join a chat room that deals with what frustrates you. Talking to like minded people will be a fantastic relief and the brilliance of the internet is that you need never reveal your true identity of you don’t want to. As noted lifestyle guru Bob Hoskins has often said, ‘It’s good to talk.’
10. Laugh more From mortuary staff to the police many of the professions that deal with the darker, more disturbing side of life are renowned for their black humour. Laughter is an incredibly powerful tension reliever, a fact well known to sitcom writers. The biggest laughs in shows like Fawlty Towers or Frasier are invariably the result of the characters becoming embroiled in an outrageously tense scenario, like not mentioning the war in the presence of German tourists. This tension though, is something the writer has to make the audience buy into, in the real world the tension is real and affects you directly. Humour is, of course, a very subjective thing, what’s hysterically funny to one person may be highly offensive to another, Jim Davidson for example, but by using humour in the your daily life you have an opportunity to both lighten the mood of those around you and achieve the ‘reframing’ mentioned earlier.
Stress can be a positive motivating force in your life but it should never be allowed to get out of hand, stay cool.
For part 1 of this article, please click here.