Use these stress relief tips to identify your stress triggers, save bucketloads of time, and prevent premature grey hairs!
A lot of time is swallowed up by a big poisonous serpent called Anxiety. The snake has another name – Stress. We have an approach to help get you out of the stress cycle. We call it 5As to make it easy to remember when the snake bites.
The 5A Approach is as follows:
Acknowledge - quickly get a handle on knowing you are in the grip of the stress snakebite
Approach – immediately lower adrenaline to look squarely at the snake
Appraise – use neuroscience to diagnose the poison
Adjust - deliver a remedy to lift you out of the poison’s control
Accept – the snake may hang around but you don’t have to let it bite you
So often in the melee of our lives we fail to notice the responses we are having – rather like the proverbial frog being gradually boiled. We cope and cope until we don’t. Noticing our own responses is the first step toward behavior change to enhance well-being.
Learning to notice our physical and mental responses to life provides us with the opportunity to reflect, practice and share.
Happily advances in Neuroscience over the last decade or so can assist us here.
According to Neuroscientist Antonio Damasio,
"We are not thinking machines - we are feeling machines that think.”
The problem is that sometimes our ability to cope is overwhelmed by our own responses to life’s events – sometimes the way our brains are wired up get in the way of us noticing what is wrong or even in some cases noticing that anything is wrong.
Stress relief tips starts with getting familiar with your stress responses.
So that you can recognize and acknowledge that you are not in your best shape to cope, think or see things rationally and reasonably.
Anxiety whether low level or higher robs us of our ability to get things done. We are slow and have trouble focusing, start the same thing over and over and find our minds drift without our permission. Acknowledging this state is the first step in winning back the time we are losing to stress.
So get a handle on what happens to you when your brain goes into threat overdrive.
Once you have noticed the change in your state, the next step is to interpret the catalyst.
Learn some stress relief tips to manage your threat responses through breathing exercises.
You can utilize the findings of neuroscientific research to enable yourself to approach and look squarely at the imbalance in your life that is causing you to lose your equilibrium.
Since this often can take courage, begin your recovery from threat state with the practices you need to be in a state to reflect on these imbalances. Since your threat response is sucking up oxygen from your brain, breathing is key.
Reinhold Niebuhr famously penned:
Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change
The courage to change the things I can
And the wisdom to know the difference.
In order to be able to make that kind of call we need to be get our brains back in a state to evaluate calmly. From a neuroscience perspective – the “serenity” mentioned above is the achievement of a reward state that enables our ability to approach things rationally rather than be threat stimulated or adrenaline spurred into anxiety and negative spirals.
This reward state gets our Pre Frontal Cortex (PFC) back on line for action. Breathing assists bloodflow to the PFC carrying the glucose and oxygen it needs to function. How much better it feels to approach our challenges with a clear head rather than simply react instinctively! Better for our self-esteem, relationships and future prospects too!
So breathe it up and try to write a few sentences describing what you are feeling. Perhaps you can identify what happened that put you in the threat state.
Further building on the principles of neuroscientific models we have developed a filter through which people can evaluate and appraise their sense of discomfort. Based broadly on Seligman’s PERMA and David Rock’s SCARF models we have formed a filter system as a reflection tool for appraising, naming and identifying what might be causes of stress people.
The CO-FRAMES model does just what it says.
It helps you frame the discomfort you are feeling and offers a line of sight to remedying your discomfort by identifying its cause. The model centres on the needs that need to be satisfied to keep people in a performance state.
The model suggests that if any of the criteria in the model are under pressure in your world you are at risk of being in a threat state. If you can identify and appraise your challenge you can start to consider your actions reasonably. Even the very act of naming the issue can lower your experience of stress.
Imbalance occurs when any of the CO-FRAMES filter criteria are threatened. Once identified, restoring the mental equilibrium underpinning well-being begins. Positive solutions can then be highly targeted to the person’s own insights around the particular CO-FRAMES criterion that in undergoing challenge.
Being able to identify the nature of the feelings which are preventing you from using your time well helps in saving the huge time costs of floundering around trying to get things done while your brain is on high alert. Using the CO-FRAMES model allows you to frame your responses and subsequent actions and thoughts to drive the “serenity” of mind you need to get the best from your time.
Having appraised, the next step is to identify what could be tweaked to restore balance and the peace of mind that paves the way for the kind of well-being that enables us to explore our potential.
If the identified discomfort is arising out of a Status challenge where we feel our self-worth or reputation has been contested we can determine the best way to bolster the way we or others view us. If we feel our lack of composure is a result of lack of autonomy in what we are doing we can develop strategies to change and challenge our situation positively.
Perhaps we feel a lack of engagement because we have dropped the ball through poor time management – we can strive to get our act together and empower our use of time to build our sense of accomplishment. Simply asking for clearer guidelines can often quieten our uneasiness by creating some certainty.
Consider these stress reduction techniques when facing down your challenges.
Some things are easily adjustable and others are not when it comes to stress relief tips. An acceptance of progress as a measure of success and an acceptance that some things are genuinely not controlled by us delivers back the importance of strong positive framing around growth and effort rather than dwelling with disappointment.
Very often vast amounts of time are chewed up worrying about things over which we have no control. The Accept part of our model checks in with this. Once we have enabled our brains to recover from the impact of the Amygdala Hijack, we are much better able to put things in perspective and turn our time and attention to where we can make a difference.
The 5A model has at its heart the aim of enabling the transformation away from a state of anxiety that will deliver long-term well-being that in turn leads to better, more successful outcomes in all aspects of life. When your psychological sense of gravity is stable you can achieve so much more with your time and your life.
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