STRESS: THE CAUSES, CONSEQUENCES & CURES
What do you want to look and feel like?
(This is an article I wrote for Inner Realm magazine's Nov., 2018 edition)
With another year coming to a close and the holidays coming upon us quickly, you might think this is another article telling you how to cope with some of the stressors that will inevitably come up. And you are right, but I’m not going to rehash the traditional methods for reducing stress (i.e., exercising, meditation, deep breathing, etc.). As effective as these methods can be to relieve stress if you use them, you can read about these methods pretty much anywhere.
Instead, I am going to teach you a very quick, easy and effective alternative therapeutic method that will help you relax and start releasing your stress almost immediately. But first I want to clarify what stress is, where it actually comes from and how to not only relieve it in the short run but how to be able to release it for good, over time, in the long run.
Most of us know what it feels like when we get stressed, the feelings of being overwhelmed, anxious, frustrated, perhaps a bit of helplessness, causing anger, resentment, loss of focus, having racing thoughts, difficulty concentrating, etc. And these symptoms may not apply to you specifically when you get stressed but they can be symptoms that others experience when they get stressed.
People can experience the same situation and yet each will react with their own set of unique symptoms. Furthermore, not everyone has the same stressors and some have a higher stress tolerance than others. This is why it’s so hard to get a consensus on a cohesive definition of stress that applies to everyone.
Most people think of stress as something that comes from outside of them, from their environment somehow. We say things like, “work is stressing me out”, “my kids are stressing me out”, or “my boss is stressing me out”, etc. We think that the other person or thing outside of us has to change for us not to get stressed. Is this true? In reality it is the opposite.
Richard Lazarus, a psychologist in the 1960’s, defined stress as: “a condition or feeling experienced when a person perceives that demands (of a particular situation) exceed the personal and social resources the individual is able to mobilize”. Therefore, stress occurs whenever we think we don’t have what it takes to meet the requirements or expectations of something that is being asked of us or we are asking of ourselves. So, we get “stressed out” when our insecurities or feelings of limitation make us think we can’t handle certain situations.
So, what causes us to have our individual insecurities and thoughts/feelings of limitation? What is it that determines our thinking of whether or not we have the “personal and social resources” that we need to fulfill the demands of a particular situation?
According to the Cognitive Behavioral (C.B.T.) equation for Behavior, Our Thoughts/Beliefs = Our Feelings = Our Behavior. So, positive thoughts/beliefs will end up in having positive feelings and positive, healthy behaviors, and negative thoughts/beliefs result in negative feelings and negative or dysfunctional behaviors.
Positive thoughts/beliefs come from positive experiences in life. If we have positive thoughts and beliefs we are more confident, trusting, have better relationships, and do better in life in general.
Negative thoughts/beliefs come from our negative experiences in life. If we have negative thoughts and beliefs we are less confident and have more insecurities, feel we have more limitations, are less trusting, have less satisfying relationships, and do poorer in life in general.
It is our adverse life experiences that are the root cause of our negative thoughts and beliefs causing our insecurities and feelings of limitation and, thus, our own individual stress.
Can we release our negative thoughts, beliefs, feelings and behaviors? Can we let go of our insecurities and thoughts and feelings of limitation and reduce our stress levels over time? Can you become more relaxed, confident, happy, and secure with a greater sense of peace, joy and freedom by letting go of your negative thoughts, beliefs and feelings? Yes, you most definitely can, and you can find out how by visiting my websites (see my profile).
And now for the very quick, easy and effective alternative stress relief method I promised you. This method is called bilateral stimulation (tapping in this example) and is a core element of E.M.D.R. (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing). This exercise is particularly effective for those with any type of anxiety, but it is also very effective when used for any kind of stress in general.
So, let’s begin. One of the most comfortable ways to do this method is called the "butterfly hug". This is done by hugging yourself, with left hand on right upper arm (right bicep) and right hand on left upper arm (left bicep). Before you start, think of your stress. On a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the highest level of stress, how would you rate your current stress level? Then just start tapping alternately back and forth with your hands, left, right, left, right, etc. Simply repeat this process until you get a sense of feeling better, less anxious, calmer, more relaxed, a sense of letting go, until you get to the relaxation level that you desire. Then ask yourself again what the number of your stress level is now, to show you that your stress level has gone down.
A good way to relieve your stress at work is to tap your left foot, then your right foot, left, right, left, right, while your feet are under your desk or the conference table you’re meeting at because no one will notice that you are doing it.
WARNING: The purpose of this exercise is to help you relax and most people find it very relaxing. However, if, while tapping, you start to feel any uncomfortable feelings, stop tapping immediately and go back and try it again at a later time.