5 Ways to Reduce Your Mental Stress
The mental stress you face daily can often be more challenging to overcome than physical stress. Sometimes, it seems impossible to escape the pressure of these stresses, especially if the cause is surrounding you all the time. I call this a ‘toxic pond’ environment.
As humans we live, play, and socialize in different environments:
- Our physical environment – this is where we live; who we live with; our family; the town/location
- Our work environment – The boss, the job, work colleagues,
- Relaxation – The places we go to unwind and what we do there forms another environment.
The most important environment, one that affects everything in our lives, is our internal environment – our Mind. Everything we hear, say, think is ‘recorded’ internally. Our identity is linked to these ‘recordings!’ Whether we are criticised, belittled, praised, supported, dis-respected, it doesn’t matter our Mind hears it all. Our self-talk is magnified, we see it and hear it, and ‘we’ said it so it must be true!
Each of these environments can, individually or collectively be the cause of mental stress in our lives, but because it is ‘so close to us’ often it is hard to see or realise what is making you feel so ‘down.’
You Need to Change
Let me give you an example:
Imagine you are walking alongside a small creek or stream: It is totally polluted, fill with rubbish, tins, bottles, and junk. As you look you see a little fish. The fish appears to be desperately trying to gulp air. You spy a little container, you grab it, quickly scoop up the little fish into it. You smile. I’ve got you. You take off to the local pet shop, get instructions on how to help this poor little fish: fish food, oxygen plant, clean water, and a nice little bowl. Proudly, you take little Nemo home and make space on the table for him. Within hours he is swimming around, perky as ever. Clean water, a little healthy food, and Nemo is back happy and healthy.
You saved Nemo by taking him out of the ‘toxic pond’ he was dying in! What do you think would happen if you put him back where you found him? How long would it be before little Nemo was ‘gasping for air’ again?
Very often, we do not realise that we are just like little Nemo, swimming in a toxic pond and slowly dying. We have ‘careful’ relationships with people – too scared to speak up because of possible consequences. Maybe its ‘tiptoeing’ around family members or spouse? Mentally it’s exhausting.
Listening to, or being subjected to criticism and/or negativity on a regular basis creates a pond as toxic as any rubbish dump or polluted river you have ever seen.
You may think you cannot change this and sucking it up may seem like the only option available. Just like Nemo, you just need some clean water, and healthy input to allow you to thrive. You need to change your environment.
When you identify the cause, you can stop the cause of negative stress in your life. Is there something or someone in your life that is causing you this anxiety? You may need to make some challenging, but empowering, decisions regarding your job, personal relationships, and who you spend time with.
Who is in Your Lifeboat?
The people in your life can cause you a lot of stress. Some people thrive on drawing you into their drama. When you get lured into that dynamic, you become mentally stressed as you cannot escape. These people suck the energy from you with their negativity. No, they probably don’t mean to, but they do.
You will know when this happens, as you will ‘unconsciously’ cut calls short; try to avoid them or similar. You know what I mean because we all have had people who ‘drain’ us!
If you have family members you care for, there are practical steps you can take to steer clear of the drama. I have a process I call ‘my lifeboat!’ Let me explain.
If you were on a sinking ship, the people you would want in the lifeboat with you are those who could help you survive. Right? Your Life is no different. The people in your Lifeboat should be those who: Have your back? Support you; Are comfortable/relaxing to be around. In essence, they are the people who will challenge you, but praise and respect you and let you be you.
Who is Your Draino?
When you have a person or persons who drain you constantly, you need to put space between them and you. In other words, take them out of your lifeboat, before they sink it and you! It does not have to be forever, although sometimes it will be. It is just putting space between them and you so you can empathize with their issues but not be consumed and feel you must ‘fix their problem.’ Living in this type of environment is toxic to your mental health. You must change something.
Just distancing yourself from them, instead of always being available at a moment’s notice, is often all it takes. They may stop relying on you to fix their problems and you will get relief from the anxiety and worry.
Situations Can Also Be Stressful
Sometimes work, caring for a sick or elderly family member, having financial trouble, or other concerns can cause you to feel harassed. It is common to get stressed out when something like that is a large part of your life, but you can find constructive ways to deal with the concerns you are facing so you can keep yourself in balance.
When you end up in a situation that causes you mental stress, focus on the things that really matter. Is it worth getting upset about? If it really is worth worrying about, what can you do to make things smoother, ease the worry, or change the situation?
5 Ways to Reduce Your Stress:
- Seek solutions. Talk with the people in your life who cause you stress to look for solutions together.
- Let go. Letting go of a negative relationship that is troublesome, problematic, or just plain unhealthy can benefit both of you if you can’t turn it into a positive force in your life. Often this is just a clash of values. If so, move away and follow your own path.
- Switch jobs or locations. If your working conditions are volatile or consistently distressing you no matter how you try to rectify the situation, looking for another job or switching locations may be the answer you’re looking for.
- Ask for help. Seek help with difficult situations, regardless of what kind of challenge you face. Confiding in a trusted friend, family member, or coach/counselor can give you another perspective and offer solutions. Your mental health is yours to protect. Do not give others the power to lower your self-worth, self-esteem, or confidence.
- Take time to de-stress. Schedule time to relax, let go of problems and recharge. Do your favorite activities or hobbies in your “me” time, meditate, or just take a nap – whatever works best to relax you. This is a priority, schedule in your diary every month. It does not have to cost money – even a daily walk around the block is a great start and it’s free.
For some people, getting rid of – or at least lessening – mental stress is easier than it is for others. If you find that you are having serious trouble letting go of stress in your life, Book a complimentary session with our therapist who will teach you some ‘Instant Calm’ techniques.
Above all, commit to living a more balanced life. The peace and joy you deserve are available to you right now. Make a conscious decision to start focusing on the Joy in your life, and you will see how to bring more fulfillment into every day. Contentment is in the small stuff!