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Managing stress and anxiety

Updated: Jul 11, 2022

Stress is such a big part of our lives at the moment and everyone seems to have some ideas, strategies or advice to share.

There are many blog posts, podcasts and videos on the subject. I have read/listened to and watched some and I have extracted the main ideas and will summarise them here for you. That way YOU will only need to read this post.

I have taken some of information from 2 heavy weights in the field of personal development. Jack Canfield is an author, motivational speaker and trainer. He is probably most well-known for co-authoring ‘Chicken Soup for the Soul’ as well as about 65 other books.

The other person is Dr. John Demartini, and this is how his website describes him:

Dr John Demartini is a world-renowned specialist on human behavior, a researcher, author and global educator. He has studied over 30,000 books across most all the defined academic disciplines and has synthesized the wisdom of the ages, which he shares on stage in over 100 countries around the world.

But before I get into the detail a shout out to you, if you live in Melbourne (Australia) because you are experiencing particularly tough times at the moment. If you are a teacher in US or UK and are getting ready to return to work after your summer break, I am also thinking of you. I know that many of you are experiencing high levels of fear and anxiety about keeping yourself and everyone else safe in a very difficult situation. All of this is very stressful.

Our bodies are designed to cope with short term stress but not the prolonged situations we have been faced with. When under stress, your adrenal glands make and release the hormone cortisol into your bloodstream. Cortisol is often called the “stress hormone,” and it causes an increase in your heart rate and blood pressure. This is the natural “flight or fight” response that has kept humans alive for thousands of years.

But when your body is under constant stress it will constantly pump out cortisol and other stress hormones. This puts you at risk of many health problems.

That’s why it is now more important than ever that we all manage our stress levels as much as we can. While we can’t change the causes of the stress, we can change the way we react to the stressors.

In a recent video Jack Canfield suggested these 3 things to add balance to your life in times of chaos and reduce your stress.

1. Add structure to your life

  • If you are working from home/in isolation, make sure that you clearly separate work/non work time.

  • Establish household routines – mealtimes, family time etc.

  • Schedule in some exercise (outside if you can)

  • Make sure you have at least 15 minutes of ‘you’ time to do whatever makes you feel calm and relaxed (e.g. read a book, watch a funny TV show, meditate etc.)

2. Get more sleep

  • · Go to bed earlier

  • · Find a way to get better sleep.

Sleep plays a vital role in our ability to cope with stress. We all know that if we don’t get enough sleep, we have difficulty focusing and processing complex thoughts. Sleep also helps us balance our emotions and make healthy choices regarding nutrition and exercise. We all need at least 7 hours sleep a night, some of us more.

Do you wake up feeling refreshed in the morning or tired and sluggish? Are you getting enough sleep?

3. Use Essential Oils

Jack Camfield said that he has discovered that essential oils are very beneficial for sleep and stress. I think so too,


Dr Demartini sees stress in a different way. He says, ‘Stress is simply the inability to adapt to a changing environment’ and how it affects us is the result of how we perceive it. It’s not what happens to you on the outside, it’s how you perceive it on the inside. You have control of your perceptions, decisions, and actions.

He identifies 2 types of stress eustress and distress. Eustress promotes wellness and occurs when you are doing something that you love but is challenging, whereas distress can cause illness and happens when you are not living authentically and according to your values. Distress is an opportunity to help you get back on track. So, he sees stress as a feedback mechanism and not something negative that should be avoided at all costs.

Other stress management strategies

In addition to the strategies mentioned above, my all-time favourite stress management strategy is meditation or mindfulness.

Meditation has been proven to reduce stress and anxiety. Meditation doesn’t have to be complicated or difficult. Just start by sitting quietly for 5 minutes noticing your breath move in and out of your body. There are many mindfulness and meditation apps available.

Another really quick and easy strategy to reduce stress is to something called ‘box breathing’. I have talked about this before, but it is so good it is worth repeating.

It is simple to practice any time you are feeling anxious or stressed

  • · Breathe in deeply to the count of 5,

  • · Hold the breath in for a count of 5,

  • · Breathe out for a count of 5,

  • · Hold the breath out for a count of 5

  • · Repeat this 5 times.

It really does work in making you feel calm and relaxed in less than 2 minutes. Stop reading and try it now for yourself………………

There is no doubt that stress is real, and it is interesting that the way we each react to stress is different. We also have different stress thresholds.

Whether we think that stress is a form of imbalance or the result of the way we see things it is important that we find coping mechanisms that work for us. And most importantly remember to use them!

Take care and stay safe

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