The Pope has revealed his anti-stress secrets and it’s not Prozac. The 81 year old has revealed the feelings of anxiety he sometimes experiences and said “There is corruption in the Vatican, but I am at peace”. His reform drive has run into opposition from the Vatican bureaucracy.
The 81 year old has revealed that his secret to him dealing with stress is to write down all of his problems in letters to Saint Joseph. He then places the letters under a statue of the man who is described in the bible as the carpenter father of Jesus. He says the statue is now sleeping on a mattress of letters!
He also added that “The Italians offer a good lesson, to live in peace you need a healthy ‘couldn’t care less’ attitude. For those of you that like the Moto GP think about how Valentino Rossi is? Everyone literally loves him and you know things are bad if he EVER says a cross word about anyone (Think Marquez!).
What about me? I used to be the world’s most stressed out person. I KNOW stress, I have FELT it.
I have had suffered 2 burnouts in life where I could not get out of bed and I worked for myself!
Who will pay the bills?
Who can help me?
How long will it last?
Stress is linked to the six leading causes of death: Heart Disease, Cancer, Lung Ailments, Accidents, Liver Damage and Suicide
However, I have found ways to manage stress and you can too. True, I’m not the Pope but when you find something that works for you to help you with stress then it can be like gold dust!!
It can literally add years to your life if you learn to handle stress.
The World Health Organization says stress has become a ‘World Wide Epidemic’.
Did you know that over a 1/3rd of the UK population currently feel stressed at least one full day a week?
Did you know that 85% of adults are experiencing stress regularly?
The most common cause of stress is Money, followed by Work, Health, Failure to get enough Sleep and Household Chores
So it seems there’s something to learn from both how the Pope’s religion is helping him and the culture of the Italian’s where they perceive life differently and experience less stress.
Have a think about what you are in control of?
How someone acts?
What someone says?
What someone thinks of you?
No, no and no!
Studies in rats, monkeys and humans have shown that our bodies and brains get more stressed out by uncontrollable, unpredictable events rather than events we can anticipate and control. Have a think about which aspects of the situation you can control and which you can’t and focus your energy on the things that you can actually influence whilst mindfully accepting and letting go of those you can’t.
The only TWO things you can control are how YOU THINK and how YOU ACT
By the way getting back to the Italian's only 14% of Italian's feel stressed at home or with the family.
I don’t know how religious you are or if you have Italian relatives but if the Pope and the Italian's are doing things to reduce their stress levels then you should think about doing the same!
So here’s 5 Secrets to Manage Your Stress Levels
Secret #1: Stress is What You Perceive it To Be
Mental health experts give us a list of what is meant to be stressful; divorce, moving house, bereavements, and money worries. Researchers who measure stressful life events have found that even a well-deserved holiday can actually be really stressful. The reason this is that it requires some sort of adaption to your day or a change from the status quo. This has the ability to increase the stress levels you feel.
However, what you actually perceive as stressful differs from person to person
Something that you feel is really stressful may actually be neutral to me. You only actually feel stressed when you believe that you lack the resources to manage a threat or challenge. If you think that you can cope then you will do exactly that. This is called a ‘stress mind-set’ or a ‘frame of lens’ that you use when you approach and try to understand an experience.
If you have a negative mind-set about stress for example; that you should avoid stress at all cost, that it zaps your energy and inhibits your ability to grow then it will have this effect. If your stress mind-set is switched to positive such as; you feel it can enhance your performance, your productivity and that you can grow as a person, then you will feel different under stress.
Therefore don’t label all stress as bad, try to look at stress with a positive mind-set and you will be better able to cope with it
Secret #2: A Bad Mood in the Morning Can Literally Ruin Your Day
How many times have you said "I must have woke up on the wrong side of the bed"?
Research has found that you can literally wake up on the wrong side of the bed and it can affect your productivity. Waking up on the wrong side of the bed has found employees to be less productive at work and more likely to have a bigger mood change after a difficult experience with a customer.
Therefore, starting your day in a bad mood leads to you feeling more stressed which in turn causes you to interpret what happens to you more negatively which in turn leads to your work performance to suffer.
Start your day in a different way, try staring with some Meditation, some exercise such as Yoga or HIIT (Joe Wicks!) and start Gratitude Journaling where you write 3 things that you’re grateful for each day.
Secret #3: Your Sleep is Affected When You’re Stressed
If you’re someone whose sleep is easily disrupted by stress, then the amount of stress you encounter will take a heavy toll on you during the day. More stress during the day then leads to poorer sleep! The vicious cycle then continues.
Teachers who were studied rated their days as either high or low in stress and their sleep quality was compared.
On the days when they felt stressed, they had poorer sleep quality, felt more tired, had trouble waking up in the morning and performed more poorly in cognitive functioning and the ability to teach
If you’re struggling with sleep take a step back and practice pressing the PAUSE button. If you practice calming yourself down such as reminding yourself to take a moment to pause and tune into how you’re feeling. Take a few breaths and slow down your thoughts. Put a hand on your stomach while you breathe in and out to really focus on slowing down your breathing.
Secret #4: Negativity Breeds Negativity
People play an active role in creating their own stressful life events by how you handle everyday situations. Do you have a short temper when you’re stressed? Do you spend less time with the people you care about? Do you hamper down and forget to smell the roses?
When you allow your internal feelings of stress to leak into your external behaviour you create an aura of negativity that can drive other people away. This doesn’t mean that you have to be fake or pretend to be happy when you’re not but that by letting stress get to you in this chronic way your interactions with others can suffer.
Find people around you who make you feel good. Studies show that friendship itself is a natural antidote to stress. This means finding someone who doesn’t encourage us to wallow in our worries and who doesn’t add to it by joining in and creating more stress.
Find positive people who have an easier time staying calm or who are more resilient
Secret #5: Try a Different Perspective
Our brains are wired to notice danger to focus on potential problems for survival purposes in order to protect us. Unfortunately this can make it easy to become overwhelmed by things we can’t controls. Dr Salvatore Maddi has studied hardiness or emotional resilience for more than 30 years has found that people with more hardiness see challenges as part of life and see them as opportunities to change and gain strength.
Imagine the moment you feel stressed, what do you usually do? You might get upset, drink a glass or wine, reach for the chocolate or think ‘what’s the point’! Instead what if you took a moment to pause and see this as a natural bump in the road and see it as a challenge? What about when the actual feelings of stress arose that you see them as excitement instead? It could be time to learn something new or grow as a person.
Think of active, positive ways to address the thing that is causing these feelings and think instead about solving the problem and how you may learn and grow from dealing with it
Now that you know how the stress secrets, this will not only help you, but it can help those around you. The gifts of stress in your own life can be the thing that you end up helping others with.
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