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Stress and Relaxation? How To Capitalise On Both

While we usually consider stress as negative, stress can be beneficial and is an entirely natural response. It is your key to survival. Stress helps to motivate you; it gives you a sudden burst of energy from the ‘flight or fight syndrome.

When our bodies start to perceive a stressful situation, it starts to release chemicals such as cortisol, norepinephrine and epinephrine. All of these chemicals help to get the blood pumping, increasing the oxygen in our bodies to focus, be creative and think clearly to handle the situation.

However, too much stress and our immune system suffer. People with too much stress or ‘bad stress’ become ill more often, have difficulty with sleep, cannot concentrate or complete tasks and may seem more angry, irritable and anxious.

Understanding the difference between good and bad stress is critical for your health.

How To Balance Stress And Relaxation

Striking the right balance between stress and relaxation is difficult. Many studies have been conducted on how to capitalise on both stress and relaxation.

Psychology professor, Csikszentmihalyi, believes there is a theory of ‘flow’ that ensures we don’t become too anxious or too bored to achieve optimum productivity and satisfaction. He says; “When challenges exceed our skills, we feel anxiety; when our skills exceed challenges, we feel boredom.”

Another study comes from the Yerkes-Dodson Curve. This curve explains that productivity and efficiency will increase with stress; but only to a point. Once a person reaches the height of stress (the top of the bell curve), then performance will drop off. Herbert Benson from the Mind/Body Medical Institute says that when the top of the stress curve is reached, it is time to switch to a relaxing activity immediately.

What Is Calm Commotion?

Research at the Mind/Body Mental Institute suggests that when you switch from stress to relaxation ‘calm commotion’ takes place. Calm commotion is when neurotransmitters have released that increase not only general well-being but also produce a sudden creative insight. It is during the calm commotion that subjects can find the solution to their problem. From then on, subjects can enter improved performance creating a ‘new normal state.

To capitalise on stress and relaxation, having an awareness of your peak stress and when the right time to drop everything in favour of relaxation (and your productivity) is critical. The best way to tell this is to determine when your productivity starts to decline and you begin to experience the unpleasant emotions of stress. Instead of the energy and determined nature stress can bring, you may begin to feel fearful, anxious or angry. When this happens, you need to stop, walk away and do something completely different.

I recommend practising mindfulness so that in situations like this you will have increased awareness of your emotions. With mindfulness, you can start to identify when you feel fearful, anxious or angry in the early stages. This makes it easier to take control of when these emotions begin to take place. If not managed, emotions such as anger or anxiety can quickly spiral out of control making them harder to manage and could affect your health, well-being and relationships.

How To Capitalise On The Relaxation Response

It may seem utterly counterproductive to stop and walk away. However, it may be vital for your health as well as your problem-solving capabilities that you need to complete the task. Relaxing tasks that you enjoy will, in turn, make your brain release neurotransmitters, serotonin and dopamine. Both of these are critical for creativity which stimulates problem-solving. So, despite the pressure, you may feel, it is time to stop and start doing something that relaxes you.

Relaxation Activities

Relaxation will mean different things to different people. It is essential to find an activity that completely relaxes you and allows your mind to focus on something other than the stress or problem you face. Activities you may want to try include;

  • Visiting an art gallery

  • Listen to music/see live music

  • Baking or cooking

  • Exercise or yoga

  • Arts and crafts activities

  • Relax in a sauna

  • Petting animals

  • Sleeping or napping

  • Relaxing meditation

  • Meeting friends

  • Enjoying a meal

  • Visiting a spa.

Whatever you decide, make sure it is an activity that completely detaches you from the stress-producing thoughts, to make you more productive and allow ‘calm commotion’ to take place.

During my hypnotherapy sessions, I equip my clients with the tools they need to ensure they can respond healthily to situations of stress. From relaxation meditation, breathing techniques and NLP activities, I can help clients to strike the balance to achieve the ideal equilibrium between stress and relaxation. To find out more about how my sessions can help you with stress, call me on 07956694818 to arrange your free 15-minute consultation.


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