Stress is a combination of three things; (1) a threatening potential stressor, (2) your inability to cope with the threat, and (3) a response that mobilizes energy to fight or flee from the threat.
Anything can be a potential stressor and trigger a stress response under the right circumstances. All potential stressors have one thing in common; they threaten you in some way. What your mind tells you about your ability to cope with the threat determines whether or not it triggers a stress response.
In order to conquer your stress and thrive, not merely survive in a stressful world you need a stress management program that does three things:
– unleashes the power of your mind to stop stressful thinking
– gets rid of stress-related tension and energy in healthy ways
– turns your stressors into challenges that motivate, rather than stress you
Coping With Stress
Years ago I developed a program to conquer stress called The Five R’s of Coping that does all three. The program uses five different levels of coping that will teach you how to conquer your stress and thrive in a fast-paced, ever-changing world.
The Five R’s are:
Each R contains several different strategies that work independently or can be combined to make a comprehensive personal stress management plan.
Rethink strategies to conquer your stress use the power of your mind to short-circuit the stress response before it even begins. Your brain is a powerful organ that can both create and conquer stress. When you are exposed to a potential stressor your mind instantly answers two questions:
- “Is this threatening or harmful to me?”
- “Can I cope with it?”
If the answers are; ” yes it is threatening” and “no, I can’t cope” your brain will instantly trigger a stress response. The answers your mind give you to these two questions determines whether or not you will be stressed. Often, what your mind tells you about these two questions is inaccurate, illogical, and unhelpful.
Rethink strategies work by helping you understand how your mind works when thinking about stress. You can learn how to short-circuit your stress response by changing the way you think about the unhelpful messages your mind gives you about threatening and harmful situations and your ability to handle them.
Relax strategies to conquer your stress teach you how to switch on a relaxation response that puts your body into a relaxed state and cancels out the effects of stress. Because the relaxation response is the exact opposite of the stress response you can’t be stressed and relaxed at the same time.
When you put your body into a relaxed state on a regular basis you cancel out all of the unhealthy effects of stress (increased blood pressure, hormone release, muscle tension etc.). In a sense, this is like recharging your batteries when stress drains the energy from them. Relax strategies such as diaphragmatic breathing, breath meditation, and visualization are easy to learn and will slow down your runaway mind and relax your tense muscles.
Release strategies to conquer your stress by giving you a positive physical outlet for the energy and muscle tension produced by the stress response. The stress response is all about mobilizing energy to fight or flee from stressors. This energy and the tension it creates, gets you all wound up and makes it difficult to concentrate, focus, and get to sleep at night.
Release strategies such as vigorous exercise and sex are healthy outlets that use up this energy and release this tension in beneficial ways. Making sure you release the by-products of stress on a regular basis helps you regain your focus and ability to rest and sleep when you need to.
Reduce strategies teach you how to minimize the amount of stress in your life while maximizing the things you are passionate about. Reduce strategies teach you how to turn your stressors into challenges. Most people spend a lot of valuable time on activities and thoughts that drain their energy and create stress. By cutting back on the volume of these stressors in your life you can free up the time and energy you want and need to focus on the things that you are passionate about and challenge you.
When you are involved in too many meaningless activities and have too many unhelpful demands on your time, you get overloaded and begin to lose your zest for living and the ability to enjoy yourself. Reduce strategies teach you how to find the perfect balance between work and play, and to begin to feel passionate about and challenged by life again.
Reorganize strategies to conquer your stress revolve around hardy health habits that make you more stress resistant. Hardy health habits give you more energy and other resources to cope with stress. For example, a key hardy health habit is getting 30 minutes of exercise daily.
Experts recommend combining endurance exercises like walking or jogging at a moderate pace with 8-10 strength training exercises like weight lifting. If you incorporate this one hardy health habit into your lifestyle you will have more energy, need less sleep, and have greater mental focus. All three of these benefits will help you conquer your stress. Other hardy health habits work the same way.
For more information on these Five R’s contact me using the information below.
The Five R’s of Coping With Stress by Richard Blonna