Fortunately there is an antidote to being stressed.
Feeling stressed affects many of us, so much so that there is now an annual National Stress Awareness Day - which in 2014 is in its 16th year.
This year's theme was Stress: the balancing act. It is often difficult to keep the balance right in terms of work, health and lifestyle, especially now smart phones allow us to be contactable 24/7 and our minds are assaulted by information overload. We all know that reducing stress is essential for good health, peak performance and psychological well-being but how do we achieve that elusive balance in practice?
A helpful way to combat stress is to simply to remember to breathe. An extension of this for dealing with negative emotions and emotional triggers is to Stop-Breathe-Notice-Reflect-Respond, also known as the “Siberian North Rail Road” (SBNRR) response. It's five easy steps:
1) Stop. This is the most important step. Instead of becoming wrapped up in the emotion or making an impulse decision, just stop.
2) Breathe. Take a deep breath. This helps clear your mind, while helping physiologically to calm down your brain.
3) Notice. Notice that you are feeling tense. The simple act of 'noticing' creates awareness and a space to pause and a moment to reflect.
4) Reflect. Is what you're thinking and feeling appropriate? Does your emotion seem out of proportion compared to the trigger?
5) Respond. Think of all the different courses or actions you can take and make a conscious, rational decision on how to respond more positively.
If you are feeling stressed, this is a helpful strategy to follow, but knowing what to do is very different from actually implementing it! For some people they find they need the support of someone else, like a coach, to help them. Certainly, talking things through with a coach can help alleviate stress.
So how does coaching achieve that? I have recently read: “There are no words to express the abyss between isolation and having one ally. It may be conceded to the mathematician that four is twice two. But two is not twice one; two is two thousand times one.” So, partly it’s about having the undivided attention of another person who is your champion and only wants what’s best for you, and partly it’s about having time out of your busy life to think and with my help getting a fresh and more rational/positive perspective on stressful situations.