Stress, why all this talk about stress? What is it anyhow? Am I stressed? Will stress kill me? All questions worthy of answers, which is what I’ll be doing in the next few weeks. Giving you answers, not stressing you…I hope.
These ARE busy times we live in. It can be challenging to keep up with the continuous changes and expectations. Then there’s the need to practice mindfulness while rushing to pick up Ben at day care, and those trends, so is it cool to have man hair or not???, what, your 6 year old doesn’t have a career plan? You’re not in a book club? You don’t have the latest updates?
Ok, I’m having a little bit of fun here – and fun is a useful stress reducer. We can’t always change the situation that’s stressing us, but finding something to laugh about that situation can change your perspective. And sometimes all that we have control over is our perspective. You know that sage piece of advice, “it’s better to laugh than cry”. This week’s habit changer: practice stopping yourself from going too far down that brain gully of worry, negative and critical thinking by finding some humour in your situation. This is about finding lightness in the situation or yourself, key word is LIGHT. Make a conscious practice of this at least once a day. Share your “humour habit changers” with me and I’ll share them online.
Read on if you want to know why this works
Stress can be triggered by just about anything. There’s external stress, such as workplace issues, personal life changes or physical environment like noise, lighting and ergonomics: and internal stress, such as worry and fear. Both of these trigger a physiological response in the body. The mind and body perceive a threat, and whenever there is a perceived threat the body must respond. Hans Selye, the stress research pioneer, defined stress as “the non-specific response of the body to any demand”. ( The Stress of Life, 1976)
So by consciously choosing to focus on the lighter aspect of a situation you are decreasing the mind’s and body’s perception of threat. That helps your body to lessen it’s engagement with the flight-fight-freeze response. I call this speaking the language of the nervous system.
Why is stress is such a big deal?
Increased stress means you have less energy and attention available for other situations. Your body’s on high alert to keep you safe from danger, it’s working overtime to keep you alert. Just imagine how you’d feel after working 24 hours straight, that’s kind of what your body is doing. By managing your stress, and learning to speak the language of the nervous system, you learn to become calm, increase your energy and pay attention to what brings you joy and reward.
Next time I’ll talk more about the language of the nervous system.