Written by Hannah Massarella, Founder of Bird Consultancy
Stress comes from many sources: our environment, our relationships, deadlines, complaints, challenging staff members, board members with high expectations. It can be easy to pinpoint the external triggers, but it’s equally as important to identify and understand how our own internal dialogue can have an impact.
There are two key areas to reflect upon in relation to this: our own internal self-sabotage, and our self-compassion. Most of us give ourselves a really hard time internally, we are our own worst critics and we rarely offer ourselves words of encouragement or congratulation. When we create this kind of internal environment for ourselves our bodies go into defence mode and we start to notice the physical manifestations of stress.
It may seem that tackling self sabotage and developing self compassion are things that can only be done when we have an opportunity to step outside of life, when meditating or when on holiday for example. But there are simple and effective processes that can be implemented day to day to feed a positive and supportive self-perception, and thus alleviate stress.
Here are three such processes:
Acknowledging yourself can feel really weird, and uncomfortable because it’s not something we’re taught to do. But it’s a really effective and simple way to boost the way you feel about yourself. An acknowledgment is a simple sentence beginning with ‘I am’ and ending with a positive. For example ‘I am compassionate’ ‘I am brave’ ‘I am wise’. You can acknowledge yourself at any point throughout the day in your mind, or even better share an acknowledgment or two with someone you trust – it’s even more powerful when it’s heard by someone else.
When I used to cycle regularly I’d spend the time thinking of things I was grateful for as I was cycling along, it seemed like a really great place to remember the things I appreciated. Now I list things as I’m cleaning my house, or even just walking along, and particularly if I find I’m in a bit of a challenging place emotionally. Listing ten things you’re grateful for can shift your energy and give you a bit of extra bounce for the day. And it can be helpful too to include stuff that isn’t perfect – finding what there is to be grateful for in times of struggle can be really powerful.
Now yes, I know you’d need to sit down with a pen and paper to journal, it isn’t quite something you can do on the move. However, your journaling could actually be you talking to yourself rather than writing thoughts down, it could be you recording your thoughts on a video or as a voice memo instead. The main piece here is to let your thoughts flow somehow. If you let your thoughts flow you free up emotions, rather than stockpiling them or numbing them. Journaling in whatever form it takes allows the emotions to be ‘energy-in-motion’ and to move through you, and when energy moves through you it leaves a feeling of lightness and relief.
These techniques might sound ‘soft’ or ‘light’ but they are powerful, impactful and based on research. When practised regularly they slowly but surely shift the feeling of stress and allow you to step into more clarity, creativity and productivity.
We will be exploring these themes in much more detail at the ACEVO Stress Signals session on May 16th we would love to see you there. Go to the ACEVO website for more information and to book on to this event.