People not doing what we want, bills to pay, deadlines to meet, conflicting commitments, competing priorities, unhealthy habits we'd like to kick and emotions we'd rather not feel....
Stress is an inevitable parts of our lives and as much as we'd like to reduce or eliminate all of life's challenging conditions, stress can’t always be avoided. The Mindful approach to stress resilience is not about eliminating stress as much as it’s about engaging with it differently. It’s about learning how to deal with stressful situations and emotions in a way that creates less suffering and doesn’t stop you from living the life you want.
What Exactly is Stress?
Stress can be defined as the response of the human organism to any change or demand. Not all stress is bad. The state of Flow is described by positive psychologists as occurring when a challenge is just slightly higher than your skills. This type of stress, referred to also as Eustress is not only beneficial to your motivation and growth, but is one of the most pleasant experiences people can have. Stress starts to take a negative toll when your challenge is far greater than your skill or when you perceive that the demands of your environment exceed your resources. Repeated chronic stress over time can overload your system and even become deadly. According to Bruce McEwen this “breaking point” of stress is called “Allostatic Load”. Signs that you've reached this point are feelings of depression, anxiety, insomnia, decreased sex drive, indigestion, arthritis, fatigue and brain fog. Whether you're at rock bottom or simply have more stress than you'd like, it's never too late to turn the ship around.
Why Are You Stressed?
If you're feeling stressed, you're definitely not alone. 77% of Americans regularly experience physical symptoms caused by stress and 48% of Americans feel that stress is negatively impacting their personal and professional life. Our culture is set up for stress. Expectations of ourselves and the expectations that are placed on us are greater than ever before. One definition of stress is "the gap between where you really are and where you think you should be." An attitude of striving to get to an imaginary place called "there" inspires people to over commit, take it all on, say "yes" to more and stack their schedules heavier than most can handle. If you've ever been to a gym you'll know that there is a certain weight you know you can manage easily. There is also a certain weight that gives a challenging workout and at some point there is an amount of weight that will cause you to strain and collapse under the load. Just like there is a physical breaking point for weightlifting, there is a life load that will eventually .
Coaching for Stress Management
Becoming more stress hearty is a similar process to getting stronger in the gym. For most of my clients, this means taking off some of the external load so they don't have to strain so hard and at the same time cultivating the inner strength to handle what life throws at them as they work toward their goals.
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, The courage to change the things I can, And wisdom to know the difference.
The Coaching relationship starts off by identifying the people, places and things that trigger stress in your life. Each of us has our own way of reacting to or coping with stress. These reactions typically falls into one of the following categories: fight, flight, fix or fake. Fight is anger and blaming toward either yourself or someone else. Flight is running away, distracting, avoiding, shutting down or numbing out. Fix is a desperate attempt to solve a problem, find the right solution, patch it and make it all better with the right thing. Fake is a pretty pretense to make others and yourself believe you're ok when you're not. The next step is to start becoming mindful of what the stress reaction feels like in your body when it's activated. Then to notice the thoughts and emotions that follow along with your signature reaction to each. By observing this process unfold from a non-judgemental perspective you'll stop stressing about your stress and start to gain some control over it. With Mindfulness Based Coaching practices provided during the sessions or courses, you'll slowly begin to make wiser choices and feel more flow in your life.
“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” -Victor Frankl