“A smooth sea never made a skilled sailor.”
– Franklin D Roosevelt

Most of us have experienced stress before but stress is ok, it is simply our body’s natural physical and mental response to all of the demands, threats and experiences that life places on us.

Stress can affect people in different ways, some let it consume them and become overwhelmed, whereas others thrive under the pressure and find it provides them with a positive force that motivates performance – it’s not always a bad thing.

Each individual’s environmental and physical stresses are different, which makes the overall management of stress differ from one person to the next.

How does Stress affect us?

“It’s not the load that breaks you down, it’s the way you carry it.”
– Lou Holtz

Stress is primarily our body’s response or reaction to any type of change that causes physical, emotional or psychological pressure or strain. To quickly react or combat difficult situations, when our body feels under threat it releases certain hormones.

When put under huge amounts of pressure or stress, the body’s instant reaction is to kick itself into ‘fight, flight or freeze’ mode.

‘Fight’ is our body’s natural reaction to a stressful situation, ’flight’ is our survival instinct and ‘freeze’ is our body’s automatic response to overwhelming danger.

Understanding Stress

“The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another.”
– William James

Understanding stress and its overall management is fundamental to the development of good physical and mental health.

Accepting its purpose and dealing with it in an efficient and effective manner is vital. We should embrace uncertainty, address life’s challenges and learn to adapt and become more resilient as part of the process.

The Changes

People experience and manifest stress in different ways, so it is to no surprise that there are many factors that contribute to the changes you might see in a ‘stressed’ person.

Changes can be emotional, physical or behavioural and sometimes a combination of two, or even all three.

The effects of these changes can be placed into four categories:

  1. Cognitive – memory problems, brain fog, indecisiveness, self-doubt
  2. Physical – chest pain, rapid heartbeat, high blood pressure, indigestion, low immune system
  3. Emotional – depression, anxiety, frustration, irritability, and feeling overwhelmed
  4. Behavioural – increased intake of alcohol, isolation, unmotivated, a loss of sense of humour, sleeping too much

Adopting a Positive Mind-set

“If you are positive you will see opportunities instead of obstacles.”
– Confucius

There are definitely strong links between ‘positivity’ and ‘good health’. “A study of around 5,000 people, showed that the majority of people associated happiness with overall better health”.

Adopting a positive mental attitude will produce positive thoughts – but what does it mean to be positive?

Before being able to adjust your mind-set, you have to get to the root of what is holding you back. You can then cultivate a positive mind-set that is aware of those negative emotions and learn how to control them – remember the glass is always half-full?

What power does a positive mindset have?

We often underestimate the incredible power of the human mind and the power of a positive mind-set is no different.

A group of researchers from King College in London undertook a positive thinking study, in which they tested 102 subjects diagnosed with anxiety disorder. They were split into three groups; they asked one group to visualize an image of a positive outcome to each of the three worries they’d had in the past week, another group to think of verbal positive outcomes and the last group to visualize any positive image whenever they started to worry.

It was concluded that the groups who visualised a positive image, whether it related to a specific worry or not, reported feelings of increased happiness, restfulness and decreased anxiety.

Another study that supported the power and benefits of a positive mind-set was from the University of Kentucky. “Researchers examined autobiographies written in 1930 by nuns living together at the same convent in their early years (between the ages of 18-32) and rated them on a scale of positivity.

Sixty years later the researchers contacted the surviving nuns (now aged 75-90) and of those that were still alive, half had lived beyond average life expectancy. Of the longest living survivors, all of them had scored high on positive thoughts or feelings about life in their journals written back in 1930, regardless of the circumstances.

Our minds are one of our most powerful tools, and we can harness them to shape who we are and who we become. Our subconscious mind does around 90-95% of our daily thinking, so it makes sense that mastering our own minds can result in us being in control. In fact, to be self-possessed and in control is one of the best ways to physically and emotionally empower ourselves.

Ways to create a positive mindset

Deal with and understand negative self-talk – Most of us are guilty of negative self-talk and belittling or discouraging ourselves from accomplishing goals or trying something new. Although the concept of reversing negative self-talk sounds simple, it by no way means it’s easy. You need to learn to identify a negative thought, change your perspective and redirect it into encouragement. So remember, practice makes perfect!

Use empowering statements – Having a daily positive mantra can boost your confidence but it needs to be personal to you, and something that really resonates in order for it to provoke an action. As the saying goes, if you say something enough, you will start to believe it. Say it with conviction, shoulders back, chest out and your head held high.

Surround yourself with positive people – Surrounding yourself with positive people is fundamental to the development of a positive mindset, there is a power in positivity. Surrounding yourself with positive, successful and admirable people can affect all aspects of your life, from business to personal relationships. To reach new heights of success in life, surround yourself with people who not only inspire you but also challenge you.

Have an emotional outlet – We all channel our emotions differently, however it’s crucial to understand them and have the ability to release negative ones. Whether that outlet be boxing, swimming, running, a brisk walk or talking to a friend – all of these are ways of channelling negativity. Letting negative emotions boil up in you can affect your mental health and in some cases cause depression.

Rethinking failure – At some point in life we all experience failure, we cannot be perfect at everything. But, that doesn’t mean that failure has to be a bad thing. Too often we fixate on our shortcomings yet these can be learned from and are an important part of life and our self-development. Change your perception of failure and turn it into one of valuable lessons that can help you learn and grow.

What defines a positive mindset?

Fostering a positive mindset means that you approach life’s trials, tribulations and challenges with a positive outlook. It is important to remember that this is a learned habit and it does not imply that we see the world through rose-tinted glasses or that we gloss over the negative aspects of life. Positive thinkers are more able to use an optimistic thought process, making the most out of a bad situation, seeing the best in people and ultimately viewing themselves and their abilities in a positive light.

STRESS isn’t avoidable but it is MANAGABLE but only with the right POSITIVE MINDSET!

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