STRESS AND ANXIETY ARE ENERGY KILLERS — HERE’S HOW TO ELIMINATE STRESS, FIX THE PROBLEM, AND GET YOUR ENERGY BACK
Anxiety and stress are literally energy killers, where severe anxiety or stress can rob you of your vitality, your energy levels within hours. Chronic anxiety and stress for weeks, months, and longer causes long term health problems. Research indicates stress is the underlying principle found in disease.
Learning to manage yourself and to discover and embrace ways to re-claim your power in relation to anxiety and stress is essential to your health and well-being.
Within your brain, behind your neocortex are special neurons which give you the power of perception, enhancing your ability to be self-directed and socially aware. However, you need to work with these evolutionary circuits of the brain, and research points in the direction of utilizing a unique combination of relaxation, mindfulness, and intuition exercises and principles being the way to develop your abilities in this regard. When you do, disempowering feelings and thoughts become transformed into optimism, your motivation and creativity increases, your decision-making skills are enhanced, and your ability to empathize with others rapidly grows. Compassion increases, self-love soars, and a new “voice” can be heard, one that will guide you toward greater awareness and serenity. As a Personal Coach I regard this aspect within the self as an inner teacher, one that will help you achieve more goals, more passion, and more satisfaction in your relationships and work. Nurture this delicate circuit in your brain, using some of these tips and strategies, and you will enlighten and enrich your life.
If you want to remain focused and productive throughout the work day, engage with three 10-second relaxation breaks each hour. The decision making processes in your frontal lobe get exhausted after 10-20 minutes of concentration. Some of the fastest ways to relax and refresh your busy brain is through the action of yawning, slow stretching, and gentle stroking of your hands and arms. Yawning slows down excess activity throughout your brain that causes neurological stress. Slow stretching of your neck, shoulders, arms, and torso allows your brain to send a relaxation signal to tense muscles, and it brings you into the present moment where better decisions are made. Touching of your forearms and hands decreases negative, disempowering emotions while stimulating the confidence centres in your brain.
- Live Your Values
What is your deepest innermost value? Reflecting on your personal, business, and relationship values several times throughout the day, will assist you to feel happier and more capable when dealing with difficult issues and conflicts. Repeating a positive value word (like harmony, peace, love, integrity, balance, confidence, etc.) for 5-10 minutes will turn on as many as 1200 stress-reducing genes.
- Daydream & Take Pleasure Breaks
Work burnout is one of the largest problems in business. What becomes really important then, is to manage this and a good way of doing so, from recent neuroscientific research, is to take 60 seconds once each hour to do anything pleasurable (stretching, aerobics, washing your face, anything you enjoy), the dopamine that is released from your motivation centre in your brain will allow you to work harder and more efficiently to achieve the goals you desire. Pleasure actually increases consciousness and eliminates negative, disempowering emotions like anger and fear. After you take a pleasure break, lean back in your chair and let your mind wander and daydream for a couple of minutes. This allows your brain to organise itself, and to creatively find solutions to any problem you are struggling with. All you have to do is to watch how your thoughts and feelings flow in and out of consciousness whilst remaining relaxed.
- Trust your INTUITION
The right prefrontal cortex is constantly generating worries about things that could go wrong as you work toward achieving your goals. At the same time, the left prefrontal lobe is constantly generating solutions to any imaginable problem. There’s a continuous word-based dialog going on, and if you relax and take the time as you use your imagination to listen to this inner speech, you assess the best action to take. Your intuition is the voice of inner wisdom, a very real neurological process that takes place in the insula and anterior cingulate. It’s not a word-based awareness, but it’s the most trustworthy sense humans have, and you can “exercise” it through different forms of meditation, breath work, spiritual and mindfulness-based strategies.
- Keep a Daily List of Accomplishments
The brain registers small goals the same as large ones. If you fail at a big goal, you can easily trigger the release of stress chemicals, whereas every small accomplishment releases dopamine and motivates you to achieve more success. However, you have to pay attention and become deliberately conscious of them! At the completion of each day, write down all your small accomplishments and then take 2-3 minutes to reflect upon them, to appreciate them, to savour them. Research shows that if you do this for just one week (7 days) your self-esteem will continue to grow over the next 3 months!
- Keep a Gratitude Journal
Research shows that keeping a daily gratitude journal eliminates feelings of worry, fear, and irritability. At the end of each day, write down 3 things you feel grateful for – people you appreciate, things you value about your life, etc. Then repeat a phrase like : “I breathe in peace, safety and balance.” When you feel angry toward someone, repeat this phrase and continue to do so no matter how much resistance you might feel, until your anger dissipates.
- Surround Yourself with Kindness & Forgiveness
When a friend or colleague excels, begin to repeat this affirmation to yourself: “May I be successful, may I be well, may I be filled with joy and peace.” The more respect and kindness you show to successful people, the more your brain will unconsciously emulate the best of what they are doing. Result: you’ll pick up their good habits. Tell them how thrilled you are and they will unconsciously reach out to help you become more successful. Research shows that the wealthier we become, the more we desire other’s to be successful. On the other hand, feelings of resentment toward others will undermine your health, happiness, and financial success. Being unforgiving disrupts the motivation centres in your brain, and the latest neuroscientific research shows that forgiveness is one of the most important qualities to nurture, especially in the workplace. Many brain-scan studies show that in order to forgive others, you first need to send kind thoughts to yourself by repeating, either out loud or in silence, any version of this phrase for approximately five minutes: “May I be happy, may I be well, may I be filled with love and peace.” Next, you visualize friends and family members, saying “May you be happy, may you be well, may you be filled with love and peace.” Then you send this blessing to distant acquaintances, and then to people who have hurt and angered you. In the final step of this powerful exercise, you extend your love and kindness to everyone in the world – to all cultures, all colours, all religions, and all political groups. As you do this, you envision everyone getting along with each other and living together in peace.
- Write Your Way
If you have a clear written strategy, the research shows that you will be 50% more likely to reach that goal, and if you share your goals and progress with a colleague, your chances of success increase to 75%. But the goal must be realistic. Pick a simple goal that you would like to accomplish today. Write it down. Now write down 2-3 ways you could sabotage your goal. Finally write down counter-strategies for those sabotage behaviours. Well done! You are on your way to success by applying some of the core principles of cognitive behaviour therapy. And if you want to boost your self-esteem, write down the small goals you accomplished during the day. You see, the brain rewards itself with the pleasure neurochemical dopamine every time you savour even the smallest success, and that dopamine programs the brain to work harder and accomplish more goals. It is the act of writing which is vital. Studies show that when you think about a problem or a desire, your language-based centres in your neocortex go too fast for the more ancient parts of your motivational brain to respond to. Writing slows down your thoughts, and brief phrases will stimulate your brain to take action. Writing down your goals helps you to learn more, remember more, and you will have personalized knowledge in a way that makes it more useful for your goal-seeking brain!
Turn Worry Into Confidence.
Worrying about the future? Procrastinating? Feeling depressed? These negative thoughts and behaviours can undermine your confidence in setting and achieving goals…. you can’t give into them. Even if you are broke, you can’t “afford” to indulge in negative thinking. Here are some great evidence-based strategies to interrupt negative thoughts and feelings.
- Find an anchor word or phrase: “I will succeed…I am confident… peace…focus….abundant”, etc. Repeat this throughout the day when negativity arises.
- Make a list of all your successes and accomplishments in the past year and then immerse yourself visually in those memories. You’ll immediately feel better.
- Each day, identify a core value word that gives you a sense of meaning and purpose. Write it down and reflect on it once every hour as you yawn and stretch (this keeps stress low and turns off the worry centres in your brain).
- Stay focused on simple goals (write one down each hour to stay focused) and at the end of the day write down 3 things you did well. Also write down 3 things you feel grateful for. Do this for 7 days and the research shows that self-esteem increases for 3 months!
- When you notice a negative thought, suppress it. Contrary to what psychologists used to say, the research on thought suppression is robust. So when you find yourself ruminating on a worry, fear, or doubt, just say ‘’no.” Tell that inner voice to shut up!
- If suppression doesn’t work, use cognitive reframing: are you exaggerating? Is your worry real? Remember: worrying about a problem does not help you solve it, but looking for solutions, and remaining positive, open, and trusting that you will discover the way forward, stimulates the “success” circuits in your frontal lobe.
- If reframing fails, practice mindfulness: sit back and observe – without judgment – all the thoughts and feelings that flow in and out of consciousness. Mindfulness teaches your mind and your brain to disconnect from the emotional impact of negativity, and it stimulates both the “success” and “self-love” circuits in your brain. When you mindfully watch your thoughts, sudden bursts of insight often occur.
- Still can’t free your-self of those negative thoughts? Accept them! A meta-analytic review study of mindfulness and acceptance based therapies showed that the “oh well” approach is one of the most effective ways for dealing with most emotional problems.
- After acceptance, begin to practice loving kindness and forgiveness meditations. We all need to send love to ourselves on a daily basis, consciously reflecting on the small accomplishments we achieve every day and the people in our lives, who care for us.
Still stuck? Have some Coaching sessions with me. I’ll personally show you, how to identify and undermine and resolve unconscious problems and blocks that are keeping you from realizing your fullest potential and deepest work/relationship/life desires.
Shelley Ruth Wyndham BA, DNM
Transcend beliefs! Transform your life!
Based in Noordhoek Valley, Cape Town, South Africa
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