Stress Resilience through Mindfulness
I gave an overview on increasing resilience in the four domains: mind, body, emotion and spirit in my last newsletter. When we experience stress, it is because of what we are telling ourselves about the situation that we perceive as stressful. (“I’m not going to be able to get all of this done on time, I’m letting my team down, I’m not going to get that promotion, etc.”) When we say these things to ourselves, it increases our stress level and we experience heightened anxiety, fear, sadness, anger, etc.
Most of our stress is self-inflicted by our beliefs about our situation. It’s not the situation itself that causes our stress, but rather what we tell ourselves about it. For example, skydiving may be perceived as extremely stressful and terrifying to one person, and yet another person may find it exhilarating and exciting. It all depends on our perspective and what we tell ourselves about it. (“I’m going to die!” vs “This is going to be amazing!”) Our thoughts drive our emotions and the stress that we experience. We actually become addicted to the stress hormones that our bodies produce, so we self-induce our stress level by thinking thoughts that cause fear, anxiety, stress, anger, sadness, etc. in order to experience the rush from these hormones.
Be mindful of what you say to yourself. Catch yourself when you have thoughts that start producing negative emotions. Our minds are extremely powerful, and we believe what we tell ourselves, often without checking to see if it’s a factual belief. Ask yourself, “Is this belief increasing or decreasing my stress level? Is it really true? What proof do I have that it’s really true? Is there another possibility? What’s another alternative?” Asking yourself these questions will help you be more rational and lower your stress level.
The Center for Creative Leadership has found that women tend to ruminate and replay negative thoughts and experiences more than men. However, women tend to have greater emotional self-awareness than men. Working to increase your emotional awareness and regulation will increase your stress resiliency. When you find yourself feeling stressed, fearful, anxious, or angry, focus on something that you are grateful for that makes you feel good (child, loved one, pet, etc.). Feel this sense of gratitude and love as intensely as you can while breathing deeply. This positive emotional shift will lower your heart rate and decrease the negative effects of stress.
If you would like more information about my Conquer Stress training course, please send an email to Melissa.Fennell@EvokePotential.com.
“Mindfulness means being awake. It means knowing what you are doing.” – Jon Kabat-Zinn
“The present moment is the only time over which we have dominion.” – Thich Nhat Hanh