Stress is the epidemic of the 21st century that affects both our physical and emotional health. Research is now giving us great insights to efficiently deal with it :
- Stress makes us unhappy in general
- Being stress-free does not mean that we are happy
- Being genuinely happy reduces our stress levels
The best route to live a happy stress-free life is to work on your happiness!
Stress makes us unhappy
Stress is the automatic, unconscious response of our nervous system that detects threats and releases chemicals to give us energy to fight or flight! It also suppresses all other functions that are not necessary such as our digestive and immune systems, our cognitive functions but also strengthens our resilience.
When we are stressed, our immune system is weak, we can’t think straight, access to our memory is impaired, we struggle to regulate our emotions, we get anxious, we interpret people’s actions with a huge negativity filter … pretty difficult to be happy in these circumstances!
The antidote to stress: work on your happiness
Here are some “Science of Happiness” tips to not only become happier but as a by-product, free yourself from stress:
#1 Stop, breathe, feel
When we feel stressed, overwhelmed because we have too much to do or to deal with, the last thing we intuitively want to do is to stop because we have no luxury of time or because we don’t really want to face the current emotions.
Close your eyes, feel what it is you are feeling right now, just for a minute (anxiety, sadness, fear) and visualize that you are rebooting your brain, in the same way, you would reboot your computer. Visualize all the windows of your brain closing down, until your brain is switched off and switch it back on again. Visualize all this free space and resources now available in your mind for you to deal with your current challenges. Download your 3 minutes brain reboot exercise here.
A good daily discipline is to do meditation for three minutes twice a day. You only need 3 minutes to disengage from the fight or flight and activate the other part of your nervous system, the PNS, that restores and heals your mind and body. Download your 3 minutes breath awareness meditation here.
#4 Practice gratitude
At bedtime, write 3 things you are grateful for. This will not only improve the quality of your sleep but will also strengthen your prefrontal left cortex, the primal area of the brain for happiness.