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How to reverse the damage of stress

How to reverse the damage of stress

Did you know that stress can literally shrink your brain? We all do know that living under stressful conditions has serious emotional and physical consequences. And yet, knowing this, we have so much trouble taking any action to reduce the stress levels we undergo and thereby improve our lives. The answer to this was in a research at the Yale University. Researchers in the university found that stress can reduce the volume of grey matter in the areas of our brains that is responsible for self-control.

So experiencing  stress itself makes it more difficult for us to deal with future stress because it reduces our ability to take control of the situation, manage our stress levels and keep things from getting out of control. It is indeed a vicious cycle.

But there’s still hope and it’s not completely impossible to reduce stress levels. You just need to make managing stress a top priority if you want to reverse its effect. The sooner you start managing your stress effectively, the easier it is going to be to keep unexpected stress from causing damage to you in the future.

Fortunately, the elasticity in our brains allow it to mold, change and rebuild damaged areas as we practice new behaviors. So the answer lies in implementing healthy, stress relieving techniques to train your brain to handle stress more effectively and reduce the likelihood of the ill effects of stress in the future.

Below are some ways to help you fix your brain and keep your stress levels under control:

  • Learn to say no

Researchers have found out that the more difficulty you have in saying ’no’, the more likely you are to experience stress, burnout and even depression.  Saying no is really a big challenge for many people but it’s also a very powerful word that you should not be afraid to use. When it’s time to use the word ‘no’, avoid phrases like ‘ I’m not sure I can’. Saying no to a new commitment honors your existing commitments and gives your the chance to successful fulfil them.

  • Take time to disconnect

While technology allows constant communication as well as the expectation that you should be available 24/7. It’s very difficult to enjoy a few moments sans stress outside of work while anticipating an email or a phone call at any moment that will change the train of your of thought and get you thinking and stressing out.

Taking some time off the grid can help you keep stress levels under check and to live in the moment. When you make yourself available to your work 24/7, you expose yourself to a constant barrage of stressors. Forcing yourself to take some time off technology by turning off your phone, will give your mind and body some much needed break. Studies have shown that something simple like a weekend without work emails and phone calls can lower stress levels.

Choose blocks of time where you can cut yourself from work-related communication and go offline. You’ll be amazed by how refreshing these breaks will be for you and how they will reduce stress by putting a mental recharge on you.

  • Neutralize toxic people

Dealing with difficult people is always stressful, frustrating and exhausting. You can control your interactions with toxic people by keeping your feelings in check. When you need to confront a difficult person, approach the situation rationally. Identify your emotions and don’t let anger or frustration fuel the chaos. Also consider the other person’s perspective and viewpoint so that you find solutions and common ground.

  • Let go of grudges

The negative emotions that come with holding grudges are actually a stress response. Just thinking about those events sends your body into a fight-or- flight mode, which is a survival mechanism that forces you to either stand and fight or make a run when faced with a threat. When the threat is a real thing, this reaction is vital for your survival but when the threat is old history, holding onto that stress wreaks havoc on your body and can have devastating health consequences over time.

In fact, holding on to stress can contribute to heart diseases and high blood pressure. So letting go of a grudge not only makes you feel better; it will also improve your health.

  • Practice mindfulness

Mindfulness is a simple form of meditation that can help you gain control of unwanted thoughts and behaviors. People who practice mindfulness on a regular basis are more focused, even when they are not meditating. This practice is a very good technique to reduce stress because it lets you reduce the feeling of being out of control. In essence, mindfulness helps you to stop jumping from one thought to the next and that keeps you from dwelling on negative thoughts. Overall, practicing mindfulness is an excellent way to help you make it through a busy day in a calm and productive manner.

  • Put things in perspective

Our worries are often from our own perception of events. So before you spend too much time on dwelling on what your boss said during the last staff meeting, take some time out to put the situation in perspective. If you’re not sure when you need to do this, try looking for signs that your anxiety may not be proportional to the stressor. If you’re thinking in terms like ‘Nothing will work’ or ‘Everything is going wrong’, then you need to reframe the situation. The key to keeping your cool is to remember that your feelings are exaggerating the situation and the stressor is much more limited than it might really be.

  • Take support from others

It’s very tempting but really ineffective to try and tackle everything by yourself. To be calm and productive, it’s important to recognize your weaknesses and ask for help whenever you need it. This can mean turning to family and friends when the situation is challenging and you feel overwhelmed.

Everyone has someone at work or outside work who is on their team, supporting them and ready to help them when the situation becomes too difficult to handle. Identify these persons in your life and make an effort to seek their insight and assistance when you need it. Something as simple as talking about your worries and anxieties will provide an outlet for that stress. Most of the time, people around you can see a solution that you you can’t because they are not as emotionally invested in the situation as you are. Asking for help will mitigate your anxiety and strengthen your relationships too.

These strategies may look simple but they can be difficult to implement if your mind is clouded with stress. The next time you feel stressed out, force yourself to attempt these steps and you’ll see the benefits that come with disciplined stress management.

 

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