By: Tandy Wickiser
Ladies and Gentlemen, it is Stress Awareness Month! I dare say that stress touches all our lives on a weekly, if not daily, basis. We tend to accept it as a part of life, often dealing with it in an unhealthy manner.
Stress is a biochemical response in our bodies. It is not just a feeling but a cascade of chemical reactions. Those reactions are to prepare us for survival. They are meant to be a temporary cascade not a state of being. Many of us have so many stress triggers that we live in a constant fight or flight state. We produce way too much cortisol. Most of our daily stress does not involve the need for actual fight or flight. Therefore, we have no benefit to increased blood pressure and heart rate, muscle tension, turning off digestion, inhibiting sleep, and gaining weight. Our bodies are being prepared for action.
According to Mel Robbins, you can reset your nervous system through some basic steps. Singing, humming, taking a walk, or giving yourself a high five are steps she suggests to control that unneeded and unhealthy hormone production. A high five is holding your hand to your heart and saying, “I am okay, I am safe, I am loved.” It simulates a hug, another great way to restore normal hormone levels. Robbins is famous for her Ted Talk, “How to Stop Screwing Yourself Over.” Her hacks can help at a point of crisis but the best way to prevent the crisis is time with friends you trust. We need each other even if we don’t believe it.
Constance Lyda, F4P trainer extraordinaire, sees many with stressful lives. We have all heard that exercise helps to relieve stress. That makes perfect sense because those hormones are preparing us for physical movement. The goal however should be to prevent those unneeded hormones from flooding our systems She states, “Doesn’t matter how healthy you eat, how much sleep you get or how much you exercise. If you are stressed you are abusing your body. Be kind to yourself and know that this too shall pass. She outlines five key steps to dealing with stress.
1. Take a break from news and social media..
2. Name three good things that happened today.
3. Schedule self care for 15 to 30 minutes per day to take a walk, meditate and sit still.
4. Stay connected with friends. We aren’t made to do this life alone. You need two or three friends that you trust. We need each other more than we realize. Being around our people has been proven to lower blood pressure and make us more productive.
5. Keep things in perspective, the good, the bad and the ugly. It will all pass in time.
Forgive yourself for your mistakes but learn from them. Take life one day at a time.
Ginger Richardson Ray, Christian Counselor, gives us the clinical perspective. Stress can either be acute or chronic. Acute or short term stress can be positive and can spur us to a new challenge, and prepare us for an exciting experience or sudden danger. We might have acute stress when working on a tough work project. Chronic or long term stress comes from problems that aren’t easily resolved. Those issues can lead to health issues and can be life threatening. These chronic stresses can lead to us being overwhelmed which is completely debilitating. Ginger sums up that “learning to recognize our body’s signals that we’re experiencing stress is key. We can diminish the negative impact it has on us. This prevents us from reaching the feelings of being overwhelmed.”
So let’s all strive to be more in tune with how we feel when our stress hormones are triggered. Have our own personal hack list ready to calm ourselves quickly. Let’s use this month to schedule more friend time and condition ourselves not to allow daily life to be too serious. Get out there, rest, relax, recharge and strive to reconnect to our beautiful stress free selves.