Wed 14 Apr 2021

Stress Awareness Month

"Stress is the trash of modern life - we all generate lots of it, but if we don't dispose of it properly, it'll pile up and overtake your life!"  - Danzae Pace 

How true! My husband is always telling me that my laptop is running slow because I have too many tabs open - I often think that's a problem for our brains as well. Life has become so busy with numerous issues vying for our attention and we don't shut down one issue before moving to the next. Eventually we slow, (become stressed), because we have too many "tabs" open.

So how do we do life with Goldilocks tabs? (Not too many, not too few, just the right amount of tabs open to stay alert and focussed.) Over the course of the last few years, Morton Fraser has run a number of wellbeing sessions for staff with many focussing on aspects of improving mental resilience. In particular, I have found two things very helpful for managing low level stress - both really simple, but effective.

The first one involves a breathing exercise called 6,2,7,4. This is form of mindfulness that forces a break from the constant "chatter" in our mind. The technique involves:

  • Breathing in deeply through the nose for 6 beats
  • Holding for 2 beats
  • Breathing out through the mouth for 7 beats
  • Repeating 4 times.

It almost sounds too basic, but taking time out to do this exercise is really beneficial and acts like a reset button, enabling the brain to re-engage with a fresh perspective.

The other application which I've found useful is to apply the logic from the serenity prayer: to accept the things I cannot change, to be courageous with the things I can; and to have the wisdom to know the difference.

Or, as a humorous alternative which I saw on a friend's mouse mat:

"Lord, give me the serenity to accept people the way they are;

The courage to maintain my self-control; and

The wisdom to know if I act on impulse, I could go to jail.'

That's a useful reminder that humour can be a powerful drug - many clinical experiments have proven laughter can increase mood boosting hormones and decreasing stress ones. 

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