How can you reframe stress and rewire your brain to act differently when you struggle with stress?
April is Stress Awareness Month, so it only makes sense that this month's blog is dedicated to the Health Epidemic of the 21st century.
The data on stress is scary and shocking. According to the American Institute of Stress:
33% of people report feeling extreme stress
77% claim stress affects their physical health
73% claim stress affects their mental health
And even if we didn't have the statistics, we all experience stress firsthand, and the negative impact it has on our lives cannot be underestimated.
So this month, I wanted to share what almost a decade of Yoga taught me about stress, with the intention of helping you shift your perspective and how you handle stress moving forward. Because whilst experiencing it is unavoidable, it doesn't have to negatively affect your life.
Without any further ado, let's start:
#1 Not all stress is bad. We need it for survival
When we blame stress, it's important to keep in mind that stress is needed for survival. It's a defense mechanism to keep us safe and signal our body to react - fighting or flighting - to a threatening situation.
The problem is that, nowadays, we're so overstimulated, that our stress response is triggered a lot more than it should be when we're not in any physical danger.
This constant pressure on our body, caused by one being in a permanent stress survival mode is unhealthy and has consequences, like increased risk of heart disease, stroke, or high blood pressure.
#2 Learning how to control your breath is the quickest and most effective way to control stress
It sounds so simple and is almost too good to be true, but it is true. Our breath is a powerful ally to help calm our minds and one of the main tools we have at our disposal to activate the Parasympathetic System, also known as the brakes of the nervous system and responsible for bringing one's heart rate back to normal after a threat.
If you'd like to nip stress in the bud, learn how to breathe slowly and consciously next time you're struggling. It may take a while and a few rounds of a breathing exercise, but you will feel calmer.
#3 Stress is not the root problem. It's a symptom
If you'd like to become better at handling stress, it's important that you spend some time getting to know yourself and understanding your triggers.
Remember that stress is a response to threat, so who or what is making you feel threatened?
The more you understand yourself and start to recognize where stress is coming from, the better you can protect yourself and the less you'll be negatively impacted by it.
#4 The peace and calm you seek are already within
If you're overstimulated, close your eyes and turn within. We have a vast universe inside ourselves that is peaceful and quiet.
Stress originates outside of ourselves in the external world, so learn to connect within and retreat inside when you're struggling or experiencing severe stress.
#5 Learn to not associate yourself (and your worth) with stress
Stress is a constant of life, we've already established that, but just because stress exists and we experience it, doesn't mean we have to over-identify ourselves with it.
Recognise and acknowledge that you experiencing stress without it becoming your identity (i.e. shift your perspective from "I'm stressed" to "I'm experiencing stress", and see how much more empowered you will feel).
#6 You're absolutely in control
You can take back control every time, it's only about finding the techniques that work for you and putting them into practice when you're struggling.
And speaking about techniques, browse my blog for a multitude of breathing practices and other yoga-inspired exercises to help you rest and calm your busy mind.
I hope these reframes help you understand stress differently and inspire you to take action to become better at handling it.
The regular practice of yoga supports your well-being in all its layers and dimensions - physically, energetically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually.
Yoga helps you relieve stress but also changes forever the way you respond to triggers and react to stressful situations.
Yoga makes it possible to live a better life with more peace of mind.
Through the Yogaful Membership, you access 4 online yoga classes a week plus an on-demand library with more lessons and complementary content to ensure you're always supported, even when you can't join live. The membership also includes access to a monthly in-person class in London, an online sharing circle, an exclusive FB group to ask questions and share experiences, and discounts for workshops, events, and yoga retreats.
It's time to take back control and handle stress in a healthy and empowering way. Start your 7-day FREE Trial
About the author
Hi! I'm Cat, the founder of Yogaful Studio. My mission is to support you calm your busy mind and guide you towards your best, most authentic life - with less stress, more purpose, joy, and love. So if you have a demanding job and a hectic life running miles an hour, Yogaful Studio is the place for your to find rest, balance, and peace.