• Posted in March 2015
  • Article written by Michael Carroll

Living a stress free life

Stress reduces the quality of life for many people. Stress is the label of an over generalised kinaesthetic response. The physical response we experience is: increased heart rate, adrenaline, release of noradrenalin hormones, which increases the blood flow to the muscles and joints for increased physical activity. Some people feel nauseas or strong internal sensations as a consequence of the rapid heart rate and adrenalin in the body.

Some people are like ‘stress junkies’ and find the stress response motivational, they have a pattern to procrastinate until the response arrives and then with the adrenalin they are highly motivated. These people do not have choice in their lives; they can only be motivated when stress is in their body.  The limbic part of the brain needs to be activated for these people to get into ‘fight mode’ where they become highly focussed. These people thrive on stress and when it’s not present they create it. When I coach the ‘stress junkies’ the goal is to create choice, so they can be proactive when they choose, rather than waiting for the stress response to arrive in order for them to feel motivated.

Other people freeze at the stress response; they are overwhelmed at the sensory level.  The feelings in their body are very intense and choice is lost. They become inactive when the limbic part of the brain sends its stress signals through the body. And others run, they get as far away from the stress as they can, which may be inappropriate in many contexts. Stress is your response to external events. People experience stress at work, with financial matters, anxiety about family and have concerns about relationships. Whist the events may be external, ultimately people who experience stress will internalise the external events. This means they can have the stress response on constructed images and sounds of events that have yet to happen as well as recalling events that have occurred. The brain does not differentiate between fiction in the mind and real events, so stress is present even when there is nothing in the external world to be stressed about.

What is important to recognise is stress is a signal from the unconscious mind; there is something to pay attention to. In other words stress is a message from the unconscious mind. I suggest you pay attention to the message and release the stress.

Examples of messages

• Get the report finished on time
• Do a very good presentation
• Take care of your health
• Pay attention to your children’s needs

For every stress situation there will be a trigger point, for many the trigger point is way before the stress response itself. The trigger points are sensory based and in stress situations will be external events.

Examples of trigger points

• The tone of the bosses voice in the early morning meeting
• The image of the traffic
• The volume of children crying
• A certain look your partner gives you

The stress may not apply instantly with the above trigger points; accumulation will lead to the stress response. For example having heard the bosses tone all day, the stress starts in the afternoon. Having said that as the response generalises even the thought of the trigger point (the boss’s voice) will initiate the stress response.

Below is an easy to implement exercise that helps you indentify trigger points and the message of the stress response so you can release the pressure from your body. 

1. From observer position, create the movie of when you experience stress, pay attention to what you see/hear and feel in the context. Notice the earliest trigger point of the stress.

2. Step into the position of stress, relive the experience, notice the trigger point and when you do, breathe and jump to the third position.

3. From observation position ask

      ‘What is the message of the stress?”
      “How can I pay attention to the message and let go of the stress?”
      ‘What would be a better response at that moment?”

4. Create a different physical response at the trigger point, watch and hear the movie with the different response. Make sure you pay attention to the message.

5. Step into the movie, and experience the event without the different response at the trigger point.

All your behaviours are learned. Some of them you have learned through experience and others you learned through modelling. Human beings are very routine, once we learn a pattern it creates what Gregory Bateson referred to as redundancy. This means a singular response in a given context and all other choices are rendauntant. NLP is about creating choice in life; so many options are available to you at the stress trigger moment. Enjoy a stress free future!

About The Author

Michael Carroll is the founder and course director of the NLP Academy and co-founder with John Grinder and Carmen Bostic St Clair of the International Trainers Academy of NLP.

He is the only NLP Master Trainer in the world certified by John Grinder and Carmen Bostic St Clair and he works closely with them in developing and delivering high quality NLP training.