Stress is like the car airbag: it comes standard and is here to protect us . It is the agency's response to any change situation. When you are stressed, your pupils enlarge, the ear sharpens, the muscles tense, the blood pumps to the brain, you increase the heart rate, you breathe faster, your hands and feet are cold and sweaty.
It is a reaction so intense that, once the emergency is over, the body must return to its calm state. If it is not released throughout the day, you enter a state of chronic stress that produces great physical, mental and emotional wear (imagine continuing to drive with an invisible airbag activated).
Why do we humans suffer so many problems associated with this activation state and many live permanently stressed? The answer is at the origin of stress . This one comes from three sources:
1. The changing environment that asks for constant adaptation (noise, schedules, toxic partner or boss ...).
2. The physiology itself that has its needs (diseases, diet, aging ...).
3. The thoughts , because with them you decide what is stressful and what is not.
You can interpret everything that happens - either in the environment or inside - so that it serves to relax or stress you even more. For example, fearful people interpret everything as a threat, melancholy as a loss, irritable as an attack. Do not believe that stress is caused only by negative factors, a positive event can be equally stressful as changing jobs or home, having a child and even falling in love.
TECHNIQUES TO MANAGE IT
The stressful response is not removed, but it can be counteracted, prevented or controlled. Practicing one or two techniques daily to handle it should be a habit as necessary as brushing your teeth or eating healthy. You can train any of these simple tools to avoid being at the mercy of involuntary stress behaviors.
Stop thinking. Your thoughts produce positive or negative feelings and by extension pleasant or unpleasant body sensations. How are yours? Do they make you calm or overwhelm you? When you detect a thought that bothers you, say three times silently and with "stop " or "negative thinking" energy . It seems simple right? Well, it works because you are telling your mind that there you are the boss and not those invasive thoughts that are at ease. Then look for positive alternative thoughts.
Law of 10 minutes. Another technique for managing thoughts is to postpone the impulse for 10 minutes. It is very suitable if you suffer from obsessive thoughts or tend to compulsion. Imagine that you are tempted to send a guasap to someone who does not suit you. Simply wait 10 minutes before doing so by saying, "I will think about this in 10 minutes." You don't suppress the impulse, you just put it off: you send the thought in a little while. Meanwhile, devote yourself to something else that distracts you or breathes calmly. It is possible that, after that time, you no longer feel the need to do so.
Meditation. Another technique to handle thoughts is exactly not to handle them, just to observe them with a certain distance as if they were clouds passing through the sky. Put yourself in a relaxed position, observe your breathing, now how is your body, how are the sensations that you perceive from the environment, remember some event of the day, but without reacting emotionally, return to your breathing. You are breaking the "thought generates feeling" pattern. This is the key to meditation: observe without reacting .
The breathing. Research has shown that changing the rhythm of breathing to slow it down deactivates the brain areas associated with stress (in the area called the pacemaker of breathing). Full, slow and deep breathing is the basis of the RTI (Integrative Transformational Breathing). Practice : put your hands on the abdomen, breathe only through the nose, count 4 swelling the abdomen and 8 releasing the air, do it for 1 minute. It is the easiest way to calm down .
Progressive relaxation or Jacobson's . It consists of tensing and loosening muscle groups to distinguish the sensation of tension and relaxation in each area. Do it while breathing at the rhythm of the RTI. The muscle groups for tensioning / loosening are: 1. hands, forearms and biceps; 2. head, face and shoulders; 3. muscles of the chest, stomach and abdomen; 4. thighs, buttocks, calves and feet; 5. It ends with a general stretch at the same respiratory rate. Example: close your fists in 4 times, release them in 8, etc.
Visualization Plan a plan b when your thoughts take you in a direction you don't want using your imagination. Imagine that you want to lose weight, now in your mind you look in a thin mirror, healthy and happy. Or you want to be calm and visualize yourself walking along the beach calmly. Sometimes, the big changes need some cunning and the brain responds to these images as if they were real (this is the basis of the cinema).
Life depends on 10% of what happens to you and 90% on how you react . Choosing your reactions is a key to happiness and freedom. Start practicing when you are calm because on stress issues prevention is better than cure!
How to create an anti-stress routine
A habit is an activity that we are capable of doing in the long term, the quality of your life depends on them. How do you acquire a habit? The first thing is to become more aware of yourself and your answers. Then, with repetitions and creating the right circumstances.
Select one of those activities that you want to become a daily habit and try to join it to a habit that you already have. For example, put a post it on the alarm clock button that says "breathe!" So that when you turn it off it induces you to breathe RTI for 1 minute before getting up.
Research says that if you repeat a behavior for 21 days it becomes a habit and if you are systematic for 66 consecutive days it becomes an automatic behavior.
Guidelines for managing an anxiety crisis
Here is an example of a training sequence for stress management in a situation that causes us anxiety:
1. Preparation: think of a situation that overwhelms you, observe your thoughts with the meditation tool, for those thoughts with the thought stop technique and, if you need it, tense and tense the muscle group with Jacobson's relaxation .
2. Coping: breathe with RTI for 1 minute, bring to your mind alternative thoughts such as "if I want, I can relax, I have already done it other times", now is the time to visualize yourself getting what you want, if you are a soccer player getting the goal and if you are an opponent delivering the happy exam.
3. Reinforcement: imagine yourself congratulating yourself or celebrating your success with friends. When you have trained this sequence several times it is time to take action in the real world. Total practice time between 3 and 5 minutes.
Isabel Serrano-Rosa is a psychologist and director of EnPositivoSí.
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