By Dennis Buttimer & Angela Buttimer
It’s funny. You never really hear anyone say, “I need my life to become more hectic!” In these very turbulent times, people are searching for relief from their high levels of stress.
In our recent TEDx talk entitled “Defusing Stress With Mindful Mojo,” we discussed four proven strategies to reduce stress effectively.
Did you know that stress is the #1 health epidemic in the United States? And the World Health Organization (WHO) informs us that by the year 2020, stress, anxiety and depression will be the #1 disability in the world!
This epidemic is costing American businesses USD330 billion a year.
75 per cent of employees report that stress is adversely affecting both their professional and personal lives.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. Mindfulness or what we call mindful mojo really can make a difference.
Think of it as calm but dynamic energy. By practicing mindfulness, you transform your stress so that you have more calm, clarity, energy and creativity.
When you get overwhelmed with stress, the fear centre in the brain, the amygdala, hijacks the rational part of the brain.
The hippocampus, associated with learning and memory, is also greatly affected. What we’ve observed as coaches and trainers is that you end up not being able to think straight. You can’t remember and you tend to make bad decisions.
During our recent TEDx Talk, we share four hacks to overcome stress:
Practice deep belly breathing.
Try this now: breathe in through your nose into your belly filling it up like a balloon. On the out-breath, exhale through the nose or the mouth as your belly flattens toward the spine. Do that very slowly three times. Feel a difference?
This simple technique alone can lower you stress level because it engages the parasympathetic nervous system eliciting the relaxation response. It’s helpful whether you’re in traffic, a board meeting, or a doctor’s office.
Relax the body. Probably sounds too easy, right?
Try this: With both feet grounded on the floor, systematically relax the body. Slowly scan the body from head to toe, relaxing each part as you proceed : the face, neck and shoulders, chest and belly, arms and hands, hips and pelvis, legs and feet. By gently placing your focus on each part of the body, you cause it to shift from a held tension state into a more relaxed condition.
When you are relaxed in your body, you are more effective in everything you do.
Unplug from technology. This is a difficult one as we all love our technology!
But you can become easily overwhelmed and overstimulated with communication and information. This results in wasted time and poor decisions.
By taking brief breaks, you’ll find that you return feeling calmer and clearer, with more energy and creativity. Make a pact with yourself to initiate break times throughout the day away from all technology. Just making this adjustment will go a long way in lowering your stress levels!
Work with your thoughts. Scientists tells us that we think about 60,000- 70,000 thoughts a day and most are repetitive!
You can “drive yourself crazy” with all the chatter in your head. In our work, we have found that most people have a critical, judgmental voice in their heads. It might sound like “I’m such an idiot,” or “I don’t have what it takes,” or “I’m too overwhelmed.” Ever have a voice like that?
We can relate to it. As a teenager, Angela struggled with depression and Dennis with anxiety. As teenagers, we learned to meditate, and it has served us well ever since. What we learned then and now teach is that you are not your thoughts. They are just thoughts. Think of them as clouds floating by. Lean back and witness them without fusing with them. Don’t let your thoughts think you. Take charge. This is where your authentic power resides.
Implementing these four strategies on a daily basis really can make a difference. From a place of self-honour, self-respect and self-care, utilize these exercises to transform your stress states into peace, happiness and well-being.
(The Huffington Post)