Stepping out of the Stress Cycle

Let's talk about the modern-day stress. It isn't being taken as seriosly as physical health concerns but stress is a significant factor in mental health problems including anxiety and depression. Stress is affecting more people than ever.

One of the reasons causing the modern-day stress is "The expectation to be always available". As I said before, I hate online chats and even the notifications sound. The development of mobile phones and social media means we are reachable anywhere and anytime. With that increased connectivity comes increased expectations to be always available. Whether its work related, or social, there is an increased expectation that once contacted we should respond immediately. And often it’s us applying the pressure!

The solution to this is to schedule downtime where we are not available. I often turn off my phone sound when I am in a company just because I like to focus on the people around me and not being distracted. Switching phones and devices to "do not distub" mode as between a set time every day is one way to ensure our minds get a period of rest from the expectation to be available.

Schedule breaks throughout the day to check in with yourself and discharge stress. Taking just 15-20 minutes a day to walk or sit in a place that makes you feel in contact with nature will significantly lower your stress hormone levels.

We must pay attention of where we are putting our focus, and the affect that our focus has on our life. If we are focusing on our circle of concern it becomes bigger, and we can feel it pushing in on our circle of influence constricting and reducing it. But if we focus on our circle of influence, and put our energy behind the things we can do something about, then our circle of influence grows. As we work more with what we can change we re-empower ourselves by making better decisions and lifestyle choices.

The circle of influence represents the things we can do something about for example: our lifestyle choices, diet, and attitudes; things that are within our control. And the circle of concern, represents external factors over which we have no control such as the weather, the news, other peoples behavior, these are the things which concern us, but we usually can’t do much about them.

If we give our energy to external concerns they will restrict and oppress us and instead of growing we will be stunted. When we focus on external factors that we can't control we become stressed, and we waste time and energy either railing against that which we don't like, or being blown about by that which we can't change. We become exhausted and increasingly anxious. Shifting focus to the area where we can do something — even if it's a small something — is both energy saving and empowering.

# Dicover your focus

Get a piece of paper and a pencil and draw a vertical line done the middle of the page from top to bottom. Label the left column "outside" and the right column "inside".

Put some relaxing music - something about 3-5 minutes long. And for the duration of that music just sit with your pen and paper and list down your concerns dividing them into the left and right columns as you go.

If you're not sure what goes where, ask yourself: “is this something I can do something about?” If you can, it's internal. If you can’t, it’s external. You can get more into the details later, but for now, it's a simple process of what goes in the left column and what goes in the right.

When your time's up, sit with your list and start looking for areas that you can work with to make a positive change in your life.

We have the power to choose where we are putting our energy and attention, and we have the right to change it at any time.

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V. Stefanova

Engineer Front-end developer