“Stress will kill you.”
It’s something we’ve all heard before. You know stress is terrible for your health, but if you’re anything like me, you have ZERO clue how to manage it.
Unfortunately, we aren’t really taught to manage stress. We’re taught that stress is a marker for success. The more stressed you are, the harder you’re working. The harder you work, the more success you’ll have.
But the truth is, copious amounts of stress are doing you more harm than good and actually limiting your ability to reach success in your goals.
That’s why I wanted to put a little cheat sheet together for you.
External stress is inevitable in life. Tough things are going to happen, but stress doesn’t come from the “stressor” itself, it comes from how you respond to it.
When something stresses you out, it triggers a signal in your body that there’s danger (fight or flight). It makes you release hormones to provide fast burning sugars for energy and promotes inflammation around your cells and tissues to cushion them from potential physical harm.
But stress also creates some personality shifts.
Have you ever been stressed so you snap at someone you love? Or maybe you binge eat? Or maybe you break down and cry from the pressure?
Or maybe, you do all three!
If these swings happen to you, trust me, you are completely normal. When you release those hormones, they’re doing more than positioning you to be physically able to escape. Those hormones are signaling different parts of your personality to show up and defend you from having to deal with the pain of that external stressor based on how they learned to cope through your life experiences.
Check out Internal Family Systems to learn more about this concept.
But, it’s amazing if you think about it.
Even when you’re doing something that isn’t beneficial for you to hit your goals, your body is simply doing it to protect you in some way, shape, or form! Your body is just trying to have your back.
That’s why we need to learn how to manage our stress and work with our different personality parts to retrain them to turn to more effective coping mechanisms.
The best way to do that is to calm down and there’s a very specific breathing technique to take you out of your danger zone and into your calm state.
So, do this with me.
Go ahead and sit or lay in a comfortable position.
Take a deep breath in and allow your chest to inflate.
Do this 2 times.
On the 3rd round, breathe in and let your chest and rib cage inflate.
Then exhale from your rib cage, then your chest.
Do this 2 times.
Finally, allow your chest to inflate followed by your rib cage and finally, fill your belly with air.
On the exhale, allow your belly to contract, then your ribs, and lastly, your chest.
Say it to yourself:
Inhale - Chest… Ribs… Belly...
Exhale - Belly… Ribs… Chest…
Repeat a few rounds until you feel calmer, more focused, and in control.
By expanding your belly, you’re sending signals to your brain that you’re not in danger and you can be put in your calm state (your parasympathetic nervous system).
That’s it. Basic, free, and available to you any time of day or night.
If you do decide to do this, feel free to start slow. Doing it once a day for 5 minutes is a great start (and it's how I started when I was first developing my routine).
If you try this method, let me know how it goes!
With love & light,