We all struggle with stress, self doubt and a lack of self belief. No one understands that better than Katie Phillips, the Founder of The School of Self Love. Through personal experience and overcoming challenges, she has created courses that aim to teach you to appreciate yourself. In doing so, she gives clients the tools to find the confidence and self-belief you need to create a life that feels purposeful, fulfilling and fun. As we start April, also known as Stress Awareness Month, she writes about how she has learned to handle stress.
Mind and matter
Every thought you have creates a feeling in your body. Test it out. Take a moment now to close your eyes and tune into a memory. Maybe it’s lying on the beach in the sunshine. Or enjoying a cuddle with someone you love. Perhaps it’s receiving a promotion and a pay rise. How does that make you feel?
Then think of an experience you’ve had like a tight deadline or missing a flight or losing a loved one. How does that feel in your body?
It’s likely that the first thoughts had you feel light, relaxed and easy. You probably felt healthy too. The latter thought probably had you feel heavy, dark and uptight. It probably even made you feel a little unwell.
Thoughts will create ease or dis-ease in the body and over a prolonged period of time, that can manifest as health or illness.
When you are stressed you are thinking stressful thoughts based on your perception of something. We all perceive life and circumstances differently too. What makes you stressed may not make another person stressed.
For example, we are having renovations done on our home. I am finding it all rather scary and stressful. My husband is in his element! He has lots of positive experience around building and the process we are going through is all ‘as expected’ for him.
I, on the other hand, have one experience of renovating a home and it was a disaster. It involved floods, being hugely ripped off and duped by our builders. So my frame of reference could easily cause me stress. Except I have some tools to combat stress, which I would like to share with you today.
Choose to respond rather than react
This is an act of mental mastery and takes practice. When you are in a stressful situation, it’s important to look at the situation for what it is and notice what you are thinking about it.
Most of us react to life. That is an unconscious behaviour that is often triggered by stress. Choose to respond instead in a way that feels really good and true to you.
Some great questions to ask yourself are:
- How do I desire to feel about this situation and what do I need to believe / think in order to have that experience?
- If I could respond in a considered way to this situation, what would that look like? How could I perceive this experience to be able to behave that way?
- Is what I am thinking about this situation the absolute truth? What else could be true? How might a different perspective have me feel differently?
- How can I take my power back and feel in charge of myself mentally, emotionally and physically?
Look for the opportunity
I believe that within every challenge is an opportunity. A chance for you to perceive something differently or a movement from fear into love, which is my definition of ‘transformational living’.
Our building work is testing me big time and yet within it are all sorts of opportunities:
- I am getting to know my husband in a new way.
- We are learning new ways to communicate, which is creating intimacy.
- I am discovering a resilience I didn’t know I had.
- At the end of it we will have a gorgeous home that we will be able to enjoy with pride.
Get into your body
Stress begins in our mind. It’s our perception. So as much as choosing different thoughts is a powerful strategy for avoiding stress, it’s important to move out of your head and into your body.
Exercise, yoga, dance. Anything to escape the tyranny of your mind will be helpful and the feel-good hormones that are released will help you to perceive your stress differently too.
Using our building work as an example again - yesterday I had a little meltdown. It looked like me crying because I couldn’t concentrate on my work or stand the noise and dust for one more second. I chose to take my power back. I played loud, angry music (Rage Against The Machine is my go-to in these situations). While I did so, I stomped and danced and sung while dusting and cleaning my home office. I shifted my energy and cleared my space. It felt great!
I couldn’t change the situation, but I could change my reaction to it. That was extremely empowering.