By contributor David Tiong
Often when we think of stress, we think of it in negative terms. However stress can be both a good thing and a bad thing.
Stress in the short term enables us to perform well under pressure as the body rises to a challenge with heightened levels of focus, strength, stamina and awareness.
The problem occurs when stress continues on long-term, producing a prolonged low level stress. The nervous system senses continued pressure and pumps out stress hormones over an extended period. This leads to a weakening of the body’s immune system, and ends up causing other health problems.
Tackling this stress is critical for your long term well being and so here are my 5 top tips for finding balance and reducing this stress:
1. Develop a positive outlook
“A person who believes he can do something is probably right, and so is the person who believes he cannot”
We have so many opportunities in this life, but sometimes we miss them because we allow ourselves to become weighed down by our daily struggles. We often miss what is happening around us with our family relationships and our friendships as we frantically rush around trying to keep on top of things. We allow this stress to rob us of our happiness.
Happiness exists in the present moment, but we have to allow ourselves to spend time in the present. We have to stop worrying what other people think of us, and start to believe in our own opinions and dreams.
Developing a positive outlook is the best step in the best direction that you can take. Start to encourage others, affirm others, and appreciate one another.
Remember that smiling is a choice not a result, and be confident in yourself, decide for yourself, learn for yourself and be yourself. When an obstacle or a problem arises then don’t see it as something negative, start looking for the positive side, start looking for opportunities that present themselves- start seeing them as “probortunities”.
I know that when times are really tough and you are struggling with your current situation, it’s not just a matter of me saying to you – be positive. That’s not going to help when you feel the weight of the world on your shoulders.
Instead you will find benefit from the simple exercise of stopping for a moment, taking some deep breaths, relaxing your shoulders and saying to yourself “it will be ok”.
“Keep your face to the sunshine and you cannot see the shadow”
~ Helen Keller.
2. Listen and be mindful of the present.
“Sometimes the most important thing in a whole day is the rest we take between 2 breaths”
All too often people fail to live in each day. They miss the opportunities to appreciate the beauty surrounding them. They miss the opportunities to share a moment of happiness or sadness with another. They miss a moment of inspiration and clarification.
When you are always focused on the outcome you miss out on experiencing the process. When you are wishing away the week to get to the weekend you are wishing away your time, and time is something that we all seem to have less and less of.
Make time to slow down enough to relish living in the present. If you are doing something stressful or annoying or monotonous, then start to look at that task in a different light. Maybe it could be done differently; maybe you could change the procedure to make it more interesting. If not, then perhaps you could focus on the technique that you are applying and consider whether you are balancing your right hand and left hand skills evenly. Maybe change the tools you use or the method. Perhaps involve your senses differently.
Becoming more mindful of the present will empower you to become more aware of how and why you are doing something, and ultimately may lead you to an understanding and enthusiasm that arises from this greater awareness.
3. Know your goals and know where your priorities lie
Dealing with a stressful situation is much easier if you are able to keep things in perspective, and one key approach to do this, is to know where your purpose and goals fit in.
At the start of every week it is good practice to write down 3 results or outcomes that you would like to achieve by the end of the week. Post these 3 outcomes somewhere so that you can see them regularly as a constant visual reminder of your objective. Then as each day comes, write down 3 goals for the day that will be steps towards achieving those outcomes.
Throughout the week, keep a check on how you are going towards completion of your weekly goals. Make changes to your routine to accomplish these objectives. Also keep in perspective your priorities: Don’t fill your jar with the sand and pebbles before you put in the golf balls.
4. Ask the right questions
This point is much more important than I realized, until recently. If you start asking yourself the correct questions, and answering them, then a transformation in your attitude occurs.
Start asking yourself these questions:
Why am I doing this?
Is there another way I can do this?
Am I being true to myself and my beliefs?
What 3 opportunities can I identify right now and take advantage of?
What would I do right now if I wasn’t afraid of what people might think?
What would I do right now if I couldn’t fail?
Am I doing what I love? Why or why not?
Whenever you start to feel a negative emotion, recognize it and ask yourself “so what if that happens. I will come up with another option. I will find alternative solution”
There is comfort and confidence to be found in doing your own thing, and with practice we can learn to ignore more the opinions of others and start to find our own way.
5. Make mistakes
“Fail 7 times, stand up 8”
A child learns by making mistakes. Guess what? We learn by making mistakes too. That is, if we actually try hard enough, take a few risks and allow ourselves the opportunity to fail.
The only way to confront the fear of failing is to take action. If we try to avoid the confrontation then creativity, motivation, hope and positivity start to dwindle.
I read recently that if you don’t make 5 mistakes a day, then you are not trying hard enough. So let’s fall down, and then stand back up, stronger and wiser.
Start to live each moment to the full, whatever your circumstance.
That’s my top 5 tips. What about yours?
David Tiong is an Australian minimalist freedom blogger, author of the blog – Listen Feel Breathe, on the journey to find the path of freedom because too much in life holds us back and too many people are unhappy.