When I teach people about stress, the thing that comes to light is that different things stress different people out. If you consider that for a minute, you realize how powerful that realization is. Stress is our response to an event; it is not the event. For example, in a class of students, I asked people what stressed them out. One person gave the response of work, someone else said kids, another person said their dog, and yet another person said traffic. What’s interesting is that kids don’t stress everyone out and they don’t stress people out all of the time. It’s our response to the trigger that causes our stress.
There are a few kinds of stress, acute (short-term), chronic (long-term), and episodic (recurring). Our brain recognizes stress and starts reacting to help us survive. An important note here about episodic stress is that it can look and feel like chronic stress especially if it frequent and long-standing. In the paleolithic days, a tiger may be coming after a human which stressed the human out. The human's heart rate would increase, the body would sweat, and blood pressure would increase. This was the body's way of signaling to the human to take action. Now, the closest we get to tigers is in a zoo.
This is a pivotal realization because it provides perspective. When we think about things that stress us out, it's typically not lions, tiger, and bears (oh my!). Beyond the physical reactions, people also tend to make mistakes or make decisions that aren't aligned with desired outcomes.
By knowing our stress triggers, we can manage them and any other stressor that pops into our life.
Stress management (resiliency) practices can help us for short-term stressors. The cool thing is that by implementing resiliency practices on a regular basis, we can create a well of positivity that we can dip into when we are feeling stressed out and more quickly go from feeling stressed to feeling in control.
Take 90 seconds (you can use the alarm on your phone). I want you to close your eyes and breathe slow and deep. Forget about the time, forget about everything else going on and just focus on your breathing.You want to take nice, big deep breaths. Do that until the alarm goes off. Once you're done, slowly open your eyes and notice how you feel.
After you complete this activity send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know:
1. Did you complete your breathing exercise?
2. How did you feel after you completed the exercise?
I'm here for support and accountability, so let me know that you've performed the breathing practice. I also want to know what questions you have for me on stress and resiliency. Feel free to contact me at email@example.com.