Feeling stressed? Try this technique to help you unwind

Modern life is full of stress. Here’s a technique to help you manage the pressure points

By Shona Mallalieu

It is no secret that modern life is fraught with stress.

    How can we expect to be living enjoyable, fulfilling lives, when the best we are hoping for is just to “cope”?  

A 2017 survey by the Mental Health Foundation even went so far as to describe stress in Britain as an “epidemic”, with 74pc of people saying they experience stress levels so high they feel unable to cope. That figure is staggering. How can we expect to be living enjoyable, fulfilling lives, when the best we are hoping for is just to “cope”?

Stress comes in all shapes and sizes, and is caused by any number of factors. Talk to your friends about their worries and they’ll mention a raft of topics including housing, money, jobs, studies, relationships, the media, health, body image, politics, the environment, and everything else besides.

No one is immune. But nor should we be. Stress is a necessary part of being human: we wouldn’t have survived without it. The cortisol it produces in our bodies (the fight or flight hormone) readies us to react quickly to imminent danger.

But here’s the thing. Nowadays, how often are we actually in imminent danger? The problem is that our bodies are in this hyper-alert, survivalist state more often than is necessary.

As a result, we are not able properly to relax, and our mental and physical health is suffering.

We know all this, of course. We are very familiar with stress. We even know how to advise others about dealing with it: “Don’t worry, just look after yourself,” we say, even while failing to control our own stress levels.

So why do we find it difficult to de-stress, when we know how damaging it can be to our wellbeing?

Because effecting change is hard. We don’t need another article telling us to “just switch off” or “light a candle”. We need actively to change the mindset that’s making us stressed in the first place. Until then, a scented candle is just a sticking plaster.

Fortunately, the method I’m going to show you takes a longer-term approach. Not only does it reduce stress levels and improve mental health. With practice, it can completely alter your outlook on life.

This stress-relieving technique (though it’s more stress-preventing) borrows from esoteric practices, 12-step recovery principles, and NLP. It requires you to identify what you’re worried about (often something you really want, such as getting a certain job) then to break it down into short-term goals. But the most important thing it asks of you, and the trickiest, is to let go.

This is how to go through the process:

  1. Write down your goal simply and clearly. (e.g. “I want to secure a well-paid job upon leaving college.”)
  2. Draw a symbol that represents that goal. You can use the shapes of the letters or get creative.
  3. Focus on the image and what it represents. Visualise it manifesting (for example, imagine yourself walking into an office to take up your brilliant new job).
  4. Next – burn it. Do this outside, somewhere peaceful. This is you letting it go. Surrender your will. Allow the universe to do its work.
  5. Daily practice. Now that you are not clinging to the outcome, it’s time to do everything that is within your control. Every morning, write down three things you’ve achieved in life that you are proud of. Self-affirmation in this way is crucial. Then, rewrite your goal.
  6. Finally, write down the tasks you need to accomplish in the day ahead to keep you on track, such as “polish my CV” or “contact a recruitment consultant.”
  7. Complete these smaller goals. Repeat each day as needed.

What this will teach you is to detach from the result, realise the extent of your control, and stop worrying about anything beyond that. When you let go and are no longer forcing it, when you know you are doing everything you can, you realise your stress is neither helpful nor necessary. Though you still want your goal, your peace and self-worth is no longer dictated by it.

    Changing the messages we tell ourselves is crucial in learning how to de-stress.  

Ironically, not only will you achieve what you want anyway, but you will feel better. Should you not get the result you were expecting, that just means it wasn’t meant to be – and it is no negative reflection on you.

Changing the messages we tell ourselves is crucial in learning how to de-stress. By writing down the daily affirmations, we are forced to look at ourselves in a more positive light. The more you do it, the more you believe it, and the easier it becomes. If you believe you can do it, you will.

Change how you think and you’ll change how you feel.

Published: 13 June 2019

© 2019 Just Recruitment Group Ltd

If you like this article, you may enjoy – Why encouragement is the greatest motivator

You may also want to read – Can’t find the right word to describe how you feel? Reach for The Happiness Dictionary

 

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