The right and the wrong ways to deal with stress

We all have strategies to cope with stress. Some are conscious efforts while others are ones we engage in subconsciously.

 

How do you deal with stress?

Going for a walk? Watching TV? Talking it over with someone? Or wallowing in repetitive thinking until you overwhelm yourself and eventually get too tired to care?

A large-scale study by the Australian Psychological Association found that the most common ways to deal with stress are:

  • Eating = 75% of Australians
  • Browsing social media = 51%
  • Relaxation (e.g., getting a massage or visiting a spa) = 46%
  • Playing video games = 33%
  • Gambling = 19%

And what survey respondents said is most effective at relieving stress:

  • Spending time with family and/or friends
  • Focusing on the positives
  • Listening to music
  • Reading
  • Watching TV or movies

What’s wrong with this picture? There is little match-up between what we routinely do for stress relief and what actually works. This is one problem. The other problem is that while we may have some healthy ways of dealing with stress, we don’t actually change the tapes in our head, the tapes that are filled with a negative playlist that we have played for so long that we don’t even realise we’ve had it on repeat.

You might not even recognise you’re stressed or you might even think it’s “just the way life is”. If you find yourself acting out — frustration, passive aggressive behaviour, gossiping about people, comfort eating or continual moaning — you might find stress is actually the culprit.

While some people might think it sounds very “New Age”, we do need to get in touch with ourselves if we want to really work out how to fix stress and build a healthy and happy life. Fifty per cent of the journey is becoming aware that you have a problem; the other 50 per cent is healing.

What can you do now?

How do you get to that point where you realise something needs to change? It can be difficult. It’s human nature that we want to protect our ego and avoid admitting we are both the victim and the perpetrator of our choices in life. I don’t think many people can clear their past emotional stressors on their own. You need to seek outside intervention to become aware of your thoughts, beliefs and emotional stressors in order to make new choices.

In Kinesiology, we help you get to the root of these issues. “Why am I reacting in unhealthy ways?” and “Why am I creating a life I don’t want?” Hitting these questions head-on will help you see the world in a different way. It’s painful to realise that you’ve often done this to yourself, and continue to do so despite wanting to be different. This is the painful part. But pain is far better than the numb cloud you were under before. The very good news is that you will come out the other side and wonder how on earth you lived like that before.

From the survey’s effective stress relief list above, I absolutely recommend most of them (watching TV and movies won’t bring you much joy in the long-term, however) but that’s not enough. You still need to make sure you’re digging deep to make changes. You don’t simply want to weather the storm. We can all plod through life fending off each stressor as it pops up, but if you meet your stressors and bad habits head-on, you can change your life.

– Tania O’Neill McGowan, O’Neill Kinesiology College Managing Director