Trying To Stress Less Is Stressful: How To Change That | The Indigo Project

Trying To Stress Less Is Stressful

Here’s How To Change That

What Is The Actual Point Of Stress?

We all live busy lives and for many, stress has become our default setting. 

If, for a moment, I asked you to consider different sources of stress in your life, chances are you can probably come up with a growing list of internal and external pressures adding to your overall stress count.  

Looming work/study deadlines, the rising cost of living, juggling too many demands, trying to keep up with unrelenting standards of self, dating and relationship challenges, unexpected life changes, unsettling world events, uncertainty about the future and even more minor daily stressors like yet another peak hour traffic jam or not being able to score those concert tickets you really wanted.

Stress of course is a natural part of the human experience and modern living. It cues us to tackle challenges in our lives and serves a function as a survival mechanism, commonly know as the “fight-or-flight” response. 

While stress can be helpful in threatening situations, repeated and prolonged activation of the stress response can have a negative impact on our life satisfaction and mental health. Leaving us feeling clouded, restless and burnt out.

Given this, the sweetness of more presence, peace and calm is something most of us crave. True?

But if I now asked you to reflect on how you could begin living a calmer life, the question itself may even be a little stress-inducing. Knowing where to start and beginning to make changes to prioritise this can be challenging, especially if we are already feeling quite overwhelmed. 

Thankfully, there are ways to intentionally reduce stress and create a calmer life and we are here to provide a little guidance.  

 

Our Top Three Tips For Reducing Stress:

1. Use Your Body To Tune into Your “Baseline”

The first step in relieving stress is reflecting on how it shows up in your life – and the first place it typically shows up is right there, in your body.

Consider when you feel at your most calm baseline. What does this feel like in your body and mind? When you are most calm, what is present/absent in your life? When was the last time you felt this way? 

Gaining clearer awareness of this can help us recognise in our bodies and minds when we may have strayed from this calm baseline, alerting us to the need for some calming self-regulation. When we are more in tune with ourselves and our stress levels, we are then in a better position to actively prioritise self-care in micro-moments throughout the day, as well as pre-emptively plan pleasurable activities to offset peak stress periods in our week. 

This may look like stepping outside for some fresh air after a long work meeting or opting to go for a walk with a friend on your lunch break after a morning stuck at your desk. This could also look like identifying that you typically begin to feel more stressed mid-work week and then planning to attend a yoga class in the evening or scheduling a WFH day mid-week to offset this. 

What this looks like in reality is nuanced and different for everyone but reflecting on your needs, stress patterns and triggers can provide many useful insights into regulating your stress levels. Awareness has to of course then be followed with committed action. 

Giving yourself permission to prioritise embracing a different way of living, is key. 

 

2. Fact Check Yourself

When we are stressed, it can lead us to catastrophise and be more reactive than we otherwise would be, perpetuating the stress cycle. This can have an impact on what causes us stress as we may have an anticipatory stress response about things that have not actually happened yet, interpret events to be more threatening than they are in reality or avoid tackling situations that cause us stress head on. 

In these instances, a skill called ‘Check The Facts’ from Dialectical Behavioural Therapy (DBT) may be a useful tool to de-stress. This technique can serve as a guide to support you to step back from stress, assess your situation more rationally and shift your emotional response to a calmer baseline.

So how do you check the facts? After becoming aware of how you’re thinking and feeling, ask yourself the following questions: 

  • What is the emotion I want to change? (ie. Stress). 
  • What is the event/stressor prompting my stress? 
  • What are my interpretations or assumptions about this event/stressor? Do they fit the facts? 
  • Am I assuming a threat? Will it actually occur? 
  • Whats the catastrophe? Imagine the event/stressor really occurring and imagine yourself coping with this well through problem solving and radical acceptance. 

When we are stressed, we tend to over estimate the threat and underestimate our ability to handle it. By engaging in these questions you may find you are able to approach yourself or the situation more calmly and effectively. 

 

3. Ask Yourself: “Am I Living In Line With My Values?”

We simply can’t do it all but best believe we are out here stressed and trying. No but really, why are we trying to do all the things, all the damn time?!

Reflecting on your values and goals can be a great way to reduce stress and create a calmer lifestyle that is truly meaningful to you. For example, you might be more or less career-driven than your family or society expects you to be. You may notice that many of your values and goals are actually based around other people’s expectations of what you should be doing, not what truly matters to you. 

This can leave us feeling unfulfilled and stressed, even when we accomplish what we set out to. Engaging in some value clarification can help you figure out how you want to exert your time and energy and determine what is really worth stressing about. 

This can help you connect to sources of stress you may not have thought of before and highlight whether you are over-prioritising areas of your life that are less important to you and under-prioritising what really matters. 

This can also inspire the need to engage in more effective boundary setting and learning to say no to the things that don’t serve you, are beyond your current capacity and exacerbate stress.

 

You’ve Got This

When it comes to managing stress, there is not a one-size-fits-all all approach and it can be helpful to work through some of these questions and core issues behind your stress with the support of a therapist. If you’d like to stay on track with creating a calmer life, our Indigo psychologists and counsellors are here to help you.

PhotoAYANTHI DE SILVA

ayanthi de silva, Registered Psychologist

PhotoBRE ELDER

bre elder, Senior Psychologist

PhotoNEKIYAH DHARSHI

nekiyah dharshi, Registered Psychologist

PhotoDR NAVIT GOHAR-KADAR

dr navit gohar-kadar, Clinical Psychologist

PhotoMAJA CZERNIAWSKA

maja czerniawska, Senior Psychologist

PhotoEUNICE CHEUNG

eunice cheung, Psychotherapist & Counsellor

PhotoANNIA BARON

annia baron, Clinical Psychologist

PhotoTAYLA GARDNER

tayla gardner, Psychotherapist & Counsellor

PhotoKATIE ODONOGHUE

katie odonoghue, Relationship Coach & Couples Therapist

PhotoLORNA MACAULAY

lorna macaulay, Senior Psychologist

PhotoSHUKTIKA BOSE

shuktika bose, Clinical Psychologist

PhotoDEEPIKA GUPTA

deepika gupta, Clinical Psychologist

PhotoDR EMER MCDERMOTT

dr emer mcdermott, Clinical Psychologist

PhotoNICOLE BURLING

nicole burling, Senior Psychologist

PhotoNATASHA KASSELIS

natasha kasselis, Senior Psychologist

PhotoDR PERRY MORRISON

dr perry morrison, Senior Psychologist

PhotoGAYNOR CONNOR

gaynor connor, Psychotherapist & Counsellor

PhotoSHAUNTELLE BENJAMIN

shauntelle benjamin, Registered Psychologist

PhotoLIZ KIRBY

liz kirby, Psychotherapist & Counsellor

PhotoSAM BARR

sam barr, Clinical Psychologist

PhotoDARREN EVERETT

darren everett, Senior Psychologist

PhotoJAMIE DE BRUYN

jamie de bruyn, Senior Psychologist


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