A different article about stress. Why?
First: if you're reading about this subject you probably are dealing with stress and don’t have much time. So I have been very efficiently in writing this article: beginning with a short explanation of what stress is, followed by refreshing tips.
Second: the tips and solutions provided below, are most likely very different from the commonly found advice found elsewhere. Unless you've found another really good source 😉
Let’s not loose any time and start immediately with a quick explanation of stress. Because, to overcome something we need to understand what we are up to.
Stress is in our biology, it is a necessary protective mechanism called fight, flight or freeze response. It is a way to prepare the body for an emergency action.
When we talk about stress, we refer to a response to the environment. It is the brain that responds assuming that the environment we're in is dangerous.
This is why stress is both caused by:
- the environment, when there is real danger, and
- our thoughts or imagination, when we falsely believe there is danger.
Stress is very useful in certain situations in which we need to react fast to an imminent danger. But if we turn on this stress response every day because of our mortgage, partner, or colleagues, we create negative consequences for our mental and physical well-being.
The stress hormone is called cortisol. Like any hormone it is necessary in the body but the negative effects of a high level can go from severe fatigue to headache or even depression and, obviously, anxiety.
In addition: while the body produces more cortisol, it also produces less serotonin, which is the “happy hormone”. Serotonin affects our mood in a positive way, regulates appetite, sleep and sexual desire, and much more. (1)
Quick tip: eating nuts and seeds, bananas, avocados or dates, for example, is good way to increase your levels of serotonin.
There are many factors that create stress, two important ones that I see most when helping clients, are:
- The relationship between stress and time. The less time you have, or you think you have, the more stress you experience.
- A deep psychological reason for anxiety is the doubt about the future: will our values be fulfilled or not?
What are negative consequences of stress?
It shuts off the immune system, can cause obesity, raise the risk for cancer and other diseases like Alzheimers. Studies also show that stress can increase headache and back or neck pain as well as creating skin, muscle and lung problems. (2) This is only the physical part.
We know stress can be responsible for mood swings, can impair intelligence and increase feelings of anger and frustration.
Now that we have a general understanding of what stress is, let’s see what we can do about it. Or rather: not do, to get rid of it!
Here is a list of things to avoid in order to steer clear from stress:
- Watching the news. Fear and stress are closely related.
- Talking about negative topics, or gossiping.
- Being attached, it creates stress, because of the fear to lose. Letting go of attachements frees from stress.
- Fearing death. Yes, danger=stress, but some people fear death every day without reason.
- Lacking faith in life and lack of trust in oneself.
- Thinking negatively.
- Wearing tight clothes.
- Consuming intoxicants, e.g. alcohol and drugs.
- Spending too much time on Internet, social media, and dealing with emails. Only check your emails/messages once a week or even less regularly. Always reacting to the red notifications, creates a danger response in the brain.
- Having too many desires, creates stress. E.g. the desire to be perfect: doing exams, in a job or trying to be perfect in life in general.
Caring about what other people think. This is a major cause of stress!
- Trying to control everything. Traffic, accidents. Stop trying.
- Lacking morality (lying, stealing, killing, cheating, greed, anger, …) E.g: A liar has to remember his lies, and there is fear of the consequences of being exposed, which equals stress.
- Food can also be stressful in different ways:
- Thinking about food you will eat in the future;
- Consuming unhealthy food and/or processed food, creates stress in the body.
- Eating animal-sourced foods. Animals experience a tremendous amount of stress before they get slaughtered – and sometimes their whole lives. This causes peaks of cortisol in the animals, which are ingested when eating animal-sourced food. Plus, a lot of animals are injected with extra hormones in order to grow faster. Eating the animals’ meat means eating all the hormones it was injected with.
If you simply don’t do what is in the list above, this will be tremendously powerful for your well-being and decrease your level of stress greatly.
Let's take a look at some suggestions you can try when dealing with stress. We can divide these into two categories: mental attitudes + philosophies, and concrete actions.
MENTAL ATTITUDES + PHILOSOPHIES THAT REDUCE STRESS:
- The day of your death your agenda will still be full!
- Let go of the need to control
- Accept things the way they are
- Learn a new philosophy of life. E.g. by reading this book that teaches you how to listen to your heart and live your dreams.
- Know yourself
- Learn to forgive (get the exercises to reduce stress)
- Gain more understanding of suffering and happiness. The main reasons why humans suffer is because we are trying to control/avoid things we can't control/avoid: aging, sickness and death. There is a way to be truly happy. Gain understanding of how craving is a deeper cause of suffering. The 4 Noble Truths in Buddhism will enlighten you on these topics. (3)
- Read inspiring and peaceful books. E.g. this book with spiritual poetry, or this book containing Buddhist quotes that are very powerful for the mind.
Everything that activates your parasympathetic nervous system will reduce your stress level. CONCRETE ACTIONS TO REDUCE STRESS:
- Spend time in nature, walk barefoot
- Look at animals and babies
- Keep lights dimmed in the house, even use candles
- Find a place without noise and listen
- Take a bath
- Eat healthy (Learn how to eat to beat disease here)
- Help others, make a contribution
- Do breathing exercises
- Meditate, one of the most powerful ways to kick stress! (4)
- Spend at least one day a month in silence.
- Clean and organise your house, at least the place where you spend most time
- Sell or donate what you don't need. Often clients told me that, having too much stuff is creating stress in their lives, leaving them feeling overwhelmed. Minimalists speak a lot about this specific topic.
- Apply the 80/20 rule: choose to do 20% of the things that give you 80% result and forget about the rest. It will give you 80% more time in your life.
Keep in mind that it is important to understand the relationship between external ways to manage stress and internal ways.
External ways are actions like taking a bath and walking in nature. They are powerful tools but at the same time it is important to know that these are not permanent solutions. Whereas working on your inner abilities, like understanding the cause of stress, meditating, changing your attitude in life, will leave you experiencing more stability, and inner peace day after day.
Because many of my clients suffer from stress and are looking for ways to cope with it once and for all, I decided to dedicate my time to write a book about it. It’s called “Powerful Solutions for Anxiety & Stress Relief”. There is a lot to be said about stress and I want to reach you the tools to be able to finally start living a peaceful, meaningful and stress-free life.
May you be happy, peaceful and liberated.
I work one-on-one with clients during counselling sessions wherever they are on their path of life, mentally, physically or spiritually. I also regularly organise retreats around the world to teach people about well-being. On a retreat you will learn: how to find inner peace, how to feel more fulfilled in life, how to live the way you want, how to have harmonious relationships, be healthy and more.
If you want more info about the retreats or the counselling sessions, please email me. I look forward to connecting with you.
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(2) Study of the stress response: role of anxiety, cortisol and DHEAs; Encephal, Mar-Apr 2002
(4) Relation bewteen meditation and stress:
- The effectiveness of mindfulness based programs in reducing stress experienced by nurses in adult hospital settings: a systematic review of quantitative evidence protocol.
- Meditation and yoga for posttraumatic stress disorder: A meta-analytic review of randomized controlled trials; Clinical Psychology Rev, Dec 2017
Frederic Deltour was born March 30, 1982, in France. He grew up in the suburbs of Paris and spent his childhood on the judo mat. He won many competitions in his youth before becoming a model, actor, and stuntman.
He created and managed 3 companies specializing in natural products and renewable energies, and also worked as a life coach.
Frederic followed a spiritual path for many years, after which he taught Yoga and Tai-Chi.
He has traveled in over 40 countries, climbed several mountains in the Himalayas and the Andes, studied for months with a shaman in Peru, practiced with a yogi in the mountains of India, and lived in a Buddhist monastery for several months. After traveling for over five years, Frederic is now sharing his experiences in his books and lectures, all while he continues to explore the world.