As I mentioned in part 1, chronic, unmanaged stress is directly linked to physical ill-health and mental health challenges. In fact, if we are constantly stressed about stress, it will become an obstacle on our pathway to dealing with life’s challenges.
But, if stress is an inevitable part of life, is there a solution to this problem? Is there hope? Thankfully, there is! As I discussed in part 2, the key lies in how we choose to manage our stress. Changing our attitude towards stress is essential to healthy mental and physical self-care. You can choose how you view stress by practicing a healthy stress mindset. And one of the best ways to do this is to see stress as something that enhances rather than diminishes your performance.
And one of the best ways to truly change the way you view stress and how it impacts your mental and physical health is through mind management and self-regulation, or taking the time to look at your thoughts and how they are affecting you. And a great way to do this is using the Neurocycle mind management method, which I discuss in detail in my latest book Cleaning Up Your Mental Mess and my app Neurocycle.
The Neurocycle is a way to harness your thinking power that I have developed and researched over the past three decades. It has 5 steps:
1) Gather awareness of how you feel mentally and physically when you experience stress. Are you frustrated? Fearful? Angry? Sick to your stomach?
2) Reflect on how you feel. Why do you think you feel this way? What is happening in your brain and body as you respond to stress in this way?
3) Write down your reflections to help organize your thinking.
4) Recheck: think about what your thoughts and feelings are trying to tell you. What does it say about how you view stress? Can you change this to make stress work for you and not against you? Look for clues in your writing, then start to reconceptualize the way you are thinking. How can you start seeing stress differently?
5) Do your active reach. This is a thought or action you need to practice daily to help you reconceptualize what you thought about in the previous step – that is, practice seeing stress differently to change the way it affects your wellbeing. This step is all about making stress work for you and not against you. Some great ways to do this are:
- Setting a mantra or theme for the day, which could be as simple as a phrase such as “good stress helps me get things done”, which you repeat to yourself several times a day, especially when you are feeling overwhelmed.
- Practicing seeing the situation you are facing as something you can handle versus something you can’t handle. How have you handled other challenges in the past? Think of how you overcame these struggles. Remind yourself that you are that same person. Think of how your brain and body are preparing you to take action and do what needs to be done (listen to part 2 of this podcast series for more on this).
- Reminding yourself of times you overcame challenges in the past. You are not powerless! It may help to keep a list of these times that you can look at when you are feeling overwhelmed.
- Speaking with friends or family to help you get perspective when you feel yourself teetering on the brink of toxic stress. Therapists or other mental health professionals are great too! Remember, asking for help takes courage! It is not “weak”. Asking for help or for someone to hear what we are going through is one of the most human things we can do, and it can be incredibly helpful.
However, as I mentioned in part 2, remember that it takes time to change a mental habit! In fact, it takes around 63 days to do so—your perception of stress will not change overnight. Be patient, and remind yourself how incredible your mind, brain and body are. There will still be times when you fall into toxic stress, and that is totally okay. It is never too late to change your mind and start healing your mind, brain and body.
For more on developing a healthy stress mindset, listen to my podcast (episode #462). If you enjoy listening to my podcast, please consider leaving a 5-star review and subscribing. And keep sharing episodes with friends and family and on social media. (Don’t forget to tag me so I can see your posts!).
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3:10 How we respond to life changes the mind, brain & body
4:00 Normal vs. toxic stress
10:01 Using mind management to change the way you see stress
21:00, 24:07 Examples & tips to make healthy stress work for youThis podcast and blog are for educational purposes only and are not intended as medical advice. We always encourage each person to make the decision that seems best for their situation