How is stress affecting you?

We can’t deny that stress is everywhere! Missing a train, being stuck in traffic, dealing with an angry customer, your dog peeing on your favourite rug.. The list is endless!

With stress being a big part of our modern world, there is not much we can do to escape it. Now I don’t say that to get you down, I say that to empower you! Because the key is not focusing on getting rid of stress from your life (minimise yes!) but to focus on how you are managing your stresses.

It is normal to experience the occasional stress or worry, in fact, sometimes it can be a good thing to get you out of procrastination.

Now why is it so important to not only manage your stress but to also minimise it? Let’s look at the different ways stress can affect your body.

When you stress the body you end up secreting one of two, or both hormones namely, cortisol and adrenaline. 

Cortisol prevents your body from using fat as a defence mechanism to keep stored energy, insulation and for the protection of the organs. 

Often client’s would say to me “Kiara, I am eating healthy and exercising, why can’t I lose weight? One word..stress! I look into people’s eyes and I can see a build up of emotional pressure.

The other hormone that is released when we are stressed is adrenaline, which stimulates every cell in your body to fire at an increased rate. 

As cells are more active, the amount of waste produced is increased and the accumulation has a toxic effect on your body. 

Ever heard the term “running on adrenaline?” During extenuating circumstances this may happen, it’s your body’s coping mechanism for dealing with what life has thrown at you. 

However, running on adrenaline in your everyday life is not a good thing! It means your body is constantly running on empty. 

Let’s take a step back in time to what it would have been like in our ancestral days; what were their biggest stresses? I am guessing it was being chased by a wild animal and nothing to do with running late for a meeting. So in the case of being chased by a wild animal our flight or fight kicks in and the adrenaline would be released for a reason – to help us run away. 

In our modern day society we are still having those same chemical reactions but due to us not having to run for our lives, those chemicals still remain in our body. 

Next time you are worked up over being stuck in traffic think about all of those chemicals roaming around in your body with no where to go, no wonder most of us are exhausted! When was the last time you filled your body up with energy (and I’m not talking about food!)?

Not only does being stressed play havoc on your hormones (in particular the fat storage hormones), it also affects your ability to digest food properly. Think about a baby, how often do they need their nappy changed? After every meal right? Well there is nothing different about us adults; we still need to eliminate after every meal otherwise, where is all of the undigested food going? 

One of the main factors that affects a healthy digestion is, yes you got it, stress. 

Let’s talk about what kind of state you are in when eating your meals. Are you grabbing breakfast on the go? Are you throwing down your lunch at your desk whilst checking emails? This will play a big role in your ability to digest your food and then of course your ability to eliminate it. 

Next time you eat a meal focus on chewing your food slowly (up to 20 times), that will help calm your nervous system down so you can  digest your food more effectively.

Apart from digestion, another thing that falls by the waist side when you are stressed is your sleep. Let me use the baby analogy again. How many hours do they sleep? Whilst babies need substantially more sleep than us adults we are not that different. Research suggests that while adults are getting less sleep that’s not actually what our bodies want. And what do you think the main factor in us getting less sleep, you guessed it, stress. 

The biggest contributor of a poor night’s sleep is indeed stress (unless you have a newborn baby of course).

I had experiences with this back in my Personal Training days when the alarm was set for 4 am. I would also struggle to sleep during the night because I was constantly worried about sleeping through my alarm. Good morning cortisol! I felt like this is what my body was saying to me when the alarm went off. Over 10 years in this routine my body started to reject this chemical influx. Every morning upon rising I could instantly feel my heart almost beating out of my chest and the anxious thoughts would begin circulating.

After I had some tests done I found out my cortisol levels were 8 times over what they should be. I needed to make some serious changes or I was on my way to chronic fatigue.

After that wake up call I knew I needed to manage my constant worry and stressed feelings that I would get (particularly at night). Beforehand I thought it was out of my control, I thought that’s just the way I was. I realised I needed to create habits in my life to control stress.

Steve Maraboli said it perfectly “I promise you nothing is as chaotic as it seems. Nothing is worth diminishing your health. Nothing is worth poisoning yourself into stress, anxiety and fear.”

What habits have you created in your life to manage your stress? If you need some help with this leave me a comment and we can come up with some ideas together.

What are you focused on?

When you wake up in the morning where is your focus? Are you focusing on how tired, exhausted or stressed you are? How do you think your day turn out if this is your focus to start with?

Where is your focus when it comes to doing something you don’t want to do? Is it on how hard the task is or that you could be doing something better with your time? What if your focus was on how easy that task is going to be?

When you are going to the gym, is your focus on “I have to go to the gym to lose weight” or is it “I get to go to the gym to have me time and I know I will feel amazing afterwards”? Two very different focuses which will result in a positive or negative mindset.

“I get to” vs “I have to”

Two contrasting statements that will change what you focus on. Think about how often in your day you say the words “I have to”. What would happen to your thoughts about that event or situation if you changed that statement to “I get to”. Here are some good examples:

·         “I have to go to work” vs “I get to go to work to…..”

·         “I have to go out tonight” vs “I get to go out tonight to spend some quality time with my friends”

·         “I have to cook dinner” vs “I get to cook a beautiful dinner for my family”

Training your focus is like training any muscle in the body. You cannot train it once and expect it to be strong. You need to be consistently training your focus as our brains are wired in what’s called a negative bias.  Self-awareness is the first step! Next time catch yourself when you say “I have to” and turn it into “I get to” and see what slowly starts to change with your mindset.

Take a moment to think about previous events….

Another way to become self-aware around your focus is to take a moment to think of all the times you felt angry or frustrated over the past month. Write down each event or situation. Next to each event or situation, write down whether you were focusing on your own thoughts, feelings, and actions at the time, or on events or people beyond your control. For example the event might be sitting in traffic, your focus might be other drivers going to slow. If you had shifted your focus to you, you would have been in greater charge of those situations. In the example above a more productive use of your time (instead of feeling frustrated by the traffic) could have been to think about your upcoming meeting and what you wanted to achieve.

Now think about the events above and write down how you would have preferred to think, feel, and act in each of these events, so that you would have felt more in charge of those situations. Next time you are in any of the above situations remember to focus on yourself instead.

So many people want to change how they feel, but they don’t know how. The fastest way to change how you feel about anything is to change what you’re focusing on.

Even if things are tough, you’ve got to focus on what you can do, on what you can control. Hopefully you can see why focus is so important. It controls how you see the world and what you do about it.

How to Generate Self Confidence

I would be more confident if:

I had a better job

I had a more toned body

More attractive

Have you heard yourself say any of these?

Firstly confidence doesn’t come from being attractive. People love to be around confident people. 

Secondly, you don’t just wake up one day and boom you are confident. The good news is that confidence is a skill you can learn. It’s not based on experience or even talent. It’s based on your thoughts.

Confidence is just a feeling and we have to create our own feelings. Why do we seem to think this magic confidence dust happens by itself without our control or input. We seem to assume this confident thing is a mystery. Some have it, some don’t. Some have confidence in some situations some of the time and then all of a sudden, they don’t.

It’s time to gain control and have confidence whenever you need it.

First principle – you have to “do” all of your feelings. No one else is in charge and no one can make you feel anything. That customer didn’t make you angry, your partner didn’t make you frustrated, your friend didn’t hurt you. Feelings aren’t given, they are taken. And feelings don’t just appear, you create them through your thoughts. As Eleanor Roosevelt said, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” 

How do we create feelings that we want?

Have you ever heard anyone say you need to think confidently and/or positively? This is true and a good start but not the whole picture. Have you ever tried to be confident but the little voice inside your head tried to knock you down? Your internal voice is able to generate feelings by thinking about certain situations and how they might be. An important concept to understand is your brain doesn’t realise the difference between an imagined event or a real one. This is why we’re able to create really powerful feelings about something that will happen or has happened simply by using our internal dialogue. Once you manage to get your internal language right, you’ll find that those feelings that you want will come far more easily.

What do you need to say to yourself to generate confidence?

  1. Don’t lie to yourself, that voice will come back and bite you. “I wonder how confident I’ll feel whilst giving that presentation at work?” What do you think your little guys on your shoulder would say to that? These types of questions/statements don’t work. Ask yourself better quality questions to train your brain to give better quality answers. How about asking yourself, “What small ways am I noticing my confidence increase?” The little guys on your shoulders should be much quieter to a statement like that. 

“I’m considering the possibility that I can be confident in this situation?” This is much more neutral than “I am confident in all situations.” The first statement is more believable and of course you can change this over time.

  1. Physiology directly affects psychology and more importantly our neurology. There are many studies covering how physiology will directly affect how you feel to implement this is fast and very effective. How does a happy, confident and charismatic person stand? How does an anxious, worried or fearful person stand? Think back to school or uni days when you were really bored, how were you sitting? If you were really interested in the content how were you sitting?

This concept is highly overlooked, we could be feeling down because we are acting down and wishing and hoping that it wasn’t the case.

It is important to understand this isn’t just a way of generally superficial feelings, this is real! We have the science to back it up.

How can anyone see how great you are if you can’t see it yourself?