Are you feeling stressed out? Don’t worry it happens to the best of us!
When I’m trying to learn something new, pulling off something at work I haven’t tried before, or just keeping all of life’s balls in the air at once – even today – I can feel my levels of stress mounting up!
Luckily a little bit of stress isn’t bad for us. In fact it can narrow our focus and get us concentrating on the one thing we most need to get done at that moment.
Left unchecked however, as stress begins to accumulate – hour after hour, day after day, month after month and even sometimes year after year – it can wreak havoc on our performance, our relationships and our health. Our bodies simply weren’t built to handle that much cortisol – our stress hormone – without regular breaks.
So what can you do to protect your wellbeing when you’re starting to feel overwhelmed by stress? Check this out.
How To Reset Your Stress Levels
Professor Barbara Fredrickson’s research suggests that positive emotions – like joy, hope, love, interest, pride, amusement, serenity, gratitude, inspiration and awe – can short circuit the impact of stress when it’s undermining our wellbeing.
How does this work?
Fredrickson and her colleagues decided to induce stress in research participants by telling them they might have to shortly give a public speech to a roomful of strangers on why they were a good friend. Sure enough stress levels shot up as measured by the activation of participants sympathetic nervous system with the appearance of sweaty hands, increased heart rate and increased blood pressure.
After a minute or so, participants were told they were off the hook and asked to simply watch a randomly assigned video clip that generated a positive, neutral or negative emotion as measures were taken on how long it took them to recover from their state of anxiety.
Those who experienced positive emotions had the fastest recovery from the impact of stress. Those who experienced the neutral or negative emotions had the slowest recovery from stress.
In this episode of Chelle McQuaid TV, I’ll show you how experiencing heartfelt positive emotions can literally put the breaks on negativity and help you to rebound physically and emotionally when you’re feeling stressed out.
Five Ways To Undo Stress
Five of my favorite practical, tested ways to undo stress include:
- Getting close to nature – going outside when the weather is good has been found to boost your positivity and expand your thinking.
- Doing something kind – helping someone else takes your mind off your troubles and connects you to something larger than yourself.
- Finding something to laugh about – watching a funny video, reading a funny story or talking to someone who makes you laugh induces feel-good chemicals into your brain.
- Savoring something positive – think about something good that’s happened in the past or that’s coming up in your future and literally jump up and down for joy like you did when you were a child to experience heartfelt positivity.
- Slowing down – taking some deep, slow breaths and if you can mixing in a short period of meditation helps to calm your heart rate and get the blood flowing through your brain so it’s more fully engaged to cope with what your facing.
In her book “Positivity”, Fredrickson suggests a whole lot of other practical, tested ways you can also inject an experience of positive emotions when you’re feeling stressed out. You can watch Fredrickson talking more about these strategies here.
The goal here is not to get rid of all stress. Remember a little bit of stress isn’t bad for us. Sometimes it’s exactly the kick in the pants we need to get focused and moving on what’s important. Rather your intention should be to become more aware of when stress is serving you well and when it’s undermining your wellbeing, and then be able to act in ways that support your journey to flourishing.
What are your favorite ways to inject some positive emotions when you’re feeling stressed out?