We were surrounded.
All of them were switched on, floor to ceiling, a mass of flickering screens all pumping out different information simultaneously.
This was the experience my husband and I had when we tried to buy our first TV. It was impossible to focus on any one of them, as each screen was so distracting.
In the end we left—confused, disheartened, and without a TV.
Stress is a lot like that wall of TVs, each of them running a programme about one part of our busy lives. Every one is a screen, reflecting everything from family stress to financial stress, issues at work or with friends, all switched on with the volume blaring.
It’s nearly impossible to focus on one without being distracted by another, and the constant flicking from one screen to another is just exhausting.
Just like the nature of TV is simply an illusion projected into your living room, the nature of stressful thinking is also an illusion, albeit a convincing one.
Have you ever wondered why a friend or colleague doesn’t get stressed about the same things you do? It’s because the stressful “stuff” that happens isn’t intrinsically stressful. It’s the thinking we do about that thing, the programme we run, that creates the stress within us.
Here are my top tips to help you reduce your stress and switch off those competing screens:
1. We all get caught up in stressful thinking—it’s part of how we react to what is going on on the outside—so don’t be afraid to allow yourself to feel the emotion of stress. Give yourself some quiet space to allow your thinking to settle, whether you go out for a walk or grab a book to read with coffee. By building some time out into our schedules, we’ll be surprised by how many screens we’re able to turn off as a result.
2. Recognise when you are creating your own stress. Stuff happens, but often we add to it by telling ourselves how stressed out we are! If you catch yourself saying “I am so stressed” or “this is so stressful” or “I can’t believe this is happening” and then repeating it over and over, ask yourself, “Is telling myself this really helping anything?”
3. Create an E.S.E.E. life. We can do this by ensuring that we Eat properly and nutritionally, that we Sleep well, that we Exercise, and finally, that we do something we Enjoy every day, even if it’s just for 10 minutes. When we make our well-being our priority, it’s amazing how much we can change our overall thinking.
4. Linked to this is the realisation that while we may be superheroes, we are not superwoman or superman! Let’s take some time to consider our to-do list and learn to delegate when possible. Often our stress is remembering what we have to do, when we have to do it by, and all the thinking that goes along with those two things. Ask yourself, “Do I really need to do this?” If the answer is no, turn off that screen!
5. And finally, if you are struggling to clear your stressful thinking about something, talk to someone who you feel safe with, someone who is non judgmental who can guide you back to that place of calmness and clarity.
Author: Andrea Morrison
Editor: Callie Rushton