Our wellbeing should always sit at the top of our priority list, but however much we like our jobs, they can cause us a rollercoaster of emotions.
We spoke to Kate Greenslade, a mindfulness life coach at onlinemindfulnesscoach.com, about how we can build resilience and create healthy habits that are scientifically proven to help reduce stress and anxiety.
The most common things that cause stress and fear
There is a ton of issues which bring about stress and fear, but the main one is worrying about things that haven’t happened yet and probably won’t happen.
There’s fear about the future and what might be around the corner. It’s easy to get caught up in but it’s never nearly as scary as what we make up in our heads.
“My life has been full of terrible misfortunes, most of which never happened.”
– Mark Twain
When we’re stressed it can cause us to have a disproportionate emotional response. Recent scientific discoveries have identified this as the amygdala hijack – when our rational mind stops working and we react without thinking in a way that would normally be out of character.
It’s because our ‘fight or flight’ part of the brain has been triggered. Humans would’ve needed this in the past for survival when they lived in the wild but responding like this now, day to day in work or personal situations, is not serving us.
How can we stop worrying about things that are out of our control?
Another cause of stress and anxiety is obsessing over what we could have done differently. One of the big things that we can do is practise acceptance for things we can’t change.
Use ‘it is what it is’ as a mantra in stressful situations – it can break that loop in your head and help you take that step back.
Let go of resistance – recognise and remember that the more we hold on to something that we don’t have any control over, the worse we will feel. Trust that things normally turn out ok.
Stress only makes us unhappy and unwell and won’t change the outcome.
How can we generate the courage to change things that are in our control?
If you have something like a big presentation coming up that you are nervous about, don’t just prepare your notes and slides, but also do some preparation around how you might feel mentally, what might trigger you emotionally, and how you can let these feelings go.
If you are trying to make a big decision, be clear about your intentions – why do you want to do it? Don’t work with “shoulds” as they will cause conflict and are not what you actually feel. Focus on your authentic self and trust yourself.
Use your gut instinct and your intuition as opposed to always trying to intellectualise decisions, which can cause worry.
Ask yourself what’s the worst that could happen – and is that likely to happen?
How can mindfulness help?
It helps massively just to know that there is another way to think, behave and feel. In general, people find it difficult to believe that we can adjust the way we think. But neuroscience tells us that the brain is constantly rewiring itself, even down to how we act and use our body. It has plasticity and the more we make the effort to change, the more it will change.
If you’re always negative then that will naturally become the way you think and feel. You need to have the intention to change, repeating similar feelings, thoughts and actions to positively rewire the brain.
Applied mindfulness can help you identify behavioural patterns that you want to alter – first understanding what they are, then learning how to shift those patterns. Regular mindfulness practice increases an inner calm and reduces anxiety.
With it, you will build up resilience by increasing awareness of your own actions, thoughts and emotions.
What healthy habits can we create to promote wellbeing?
Regular meditation really works and so many people are starting to embrace it now with apps like Headspace and Calm. It allows you to build resilience to everyday stresses by creating inner space. If sitting still in silence fills you with dread then you can anchor meditation to something you already do like a daily walk.
Force yourself out of autopilot and notice more of the little things to do with your environment, the people around you and how you behave towards other people – do you really listen and live in the present moment?
Practice being grateful for small things. Notice if someone makes you a cup of tea and enjoy elements of people’s characters that you might not have seen before – it will bring you (and everyone around you) more joy.
If you’d like to reduce your stress and create positive habits in your life, contact Kate Greenslade on 0790 888 9262 or firstname.lastname@example.org for a free introductory session.
Sophie Cross is a freelance writer and marketer specialising in business and travel. She is the editor for London Revealed magazine and her clients include lastminute.com Group and the Coca-Cola London Eye.