About this course
It's really important to be able to recognise the signs of stress that you experience so that you can take effective action promptly. We are all different and not everyone has the same stress triggers or experiences stress the same way.
Having awareness of your own personal stress warning signs, means that you can do something about it sooner and before it escalates.
before we get into step #1, think for a moment about your personalsigns of stress. These can be either emotional, physical and behavioural signs and usually a combination of them.
The chart below provides some examples of each. Which ones do you recognise in yourself when you are under stress? Maybe there are other signs of stress that may not be listed here.
Aches and painsBreathlessnessIndigestionPalpitationsNauseaSkin rashesStomach upsetPain in chestClenched jawInfections/illness
FrustrationAngerCynicism Lack of control(over circumstances)BlameWhingingNervousnessHopelessnessMood swings
ForgetfulnessIrritabilitySleep problemsLow interest in sexOvereatingLoss of appetiteIncreased alcoholTime managementSelf-neglect Work impaired
Step #1. STOP!
Now that you have identified your personal signs of stress, as soon as you recognise that you are feeling stressed, STOP whatever you are doing, thinking or saying.
It's essential to interrupt the momentum of stress.
This simple step may be a challenge to implement due to the nature of stress in that it makes us instinctively want to push on through.
The stressed mind does not agree with taking a time-out! So, just be aware that you may need to override the urge to carry on regardless.
Also, depending upon what you are doing, it may not always be easy to stop. But you can say "Stop" to yourself!
When you are stressed, your emotional brain has taken over and you are now experiencing the fight or flight response! It's very nature is to do just that, fight or run, however by stopping you are telling yourself, "I know what's going on here, this is the fight or flight response and I need to step here."
Now of course, if you are in real danger, escaping a fire or falling tree for instance, you want that fight or flight response to be working for you. Chances are you're not in mortal danger and just responding to a perceived threat.
So, it may help to say, “STOP!” out loud (maybe not in public!) or you may find that saying it silently is enough.
Why this simple step works:
By saying “STOP!” you are using what is known as 'behaviour modification' which is a useful tool that is used to ‘ break state’.
Whenever you are feeling emotions of any kind you are in a *'state' of being, which is affecting your physiology. Without a technique such as this it can be difficult to break state through logical reasoning alone.
*This applies to good or positive states as well as so-called negative and unwanted states. Of course we don't want to intentionally get out of good states necessarily.
It's a technique used in NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) to create a sudden change in the context of a situation. By interrupting the undesired state you can literally 'snap out' of any such undesired state in the moment. The result is that you leave one undesirable state behind and change it for a more desired state.
Here's what you do...
As soon as you experience even a little stress rising inside you, practise saying, "Stop!" Notice what happens. The more you do this, the more effective it will become. The objective is to train your brain into the habit of stopping whenever stress levels are rising.
Now answer the following questions:
1. What do you notice as a result of stopping stress?
2. How easy or difficult is it for you to do?
3. What thoughts go through your mind as you give yourself this instruction?
When you're ready, go to the Calm Stress Technique #2...
Here you will put all of the three techniques together.
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