Stresses and Stressors
In these unprecedented times many of us are dealing with more and new stresses. Some of us have gone through illness, grief, uncertainty, and various other challenges. Some of us have carried the worries and stresses of others vicariously as we watch the news and check social media feeds.
For many, we identify the cause of the stress (the stressors) and take steps to remove these from our life, expecting that the stress itself will then disappear, and yet the stress remains. This is because our body is still processing the events physiologically and neurologically. Left unchecked, as we go from one stressful thing to the next, the emotional exhaustion this causes can lead us to burnout.
The good news is that there are things we can do to address this emotional exhaustion and reduce the stress. Certainly removing the stressors, or removing ourselves from the stressors, is helpful but if we stop there the emotions are still in us, having an ongoing negative effect. (Chronic stress has been shown to suppress your immune system, upset your digestive and reproductive systems, increase the risk of heart attack and stroke, and speed up the ageing process.)
Research shows that, once triggered, these emotional responses to stressful situations, that fire through our bodies instantly and automatically, can be curtailed with specific actions.
There are seven things that can help and this simple mantra helps me remember them:
Move, breathe, relate. Hug, laugh, cry, create.
Move - exercise is the most effective of the seven. This can be any form of movement, so if dancing round the kitchen is your thing, go for it!
Breathe - there’s a lot of material about the benefit of breathing exercises. The recommended breathing for stress is as follows and called diaphragmatic breathing:
Inhale slowly and deeply through your nose. Keep your shoulders relaxed.
Exhale slowly through your mouth. As you blow air out, purse your lips slightly, but keep your jaw relaxed.
Repeat. Do it for several minutes until you start to feel better.
Relate - social interaction. Pick up the phone and chat or arrange to meet for a coffee.
Hug - a 20 second full embrace hug.
Laugh - one of those deep belly aching laughs - may be while relating?
Cry - don’t be afraid to let it all out. It’s great and won’t last too long but really helps.
Create - let the creative juices flow, whatever is your thing. Paint, cook, dance...
As you can see it’s easy to combine a few of these to magnify the effect and doing them with a friend or relative will benefit them too. Remember they work, so do them with intentionality.
I hope this is helpful. It certainly is for me. If you’d like to chat about this and get some one to one help from me, do get in touch. I offer a free one hour discovery chat where you can tell me about yourself and let me now what you’d like some help with and I will get back to you with a proposal of how we can work together.
Credit: This is my a short summary of some key points from the book Burnout by Amelia and Emily Nagoski. If you want a helpful 1 hour podcast on this check out Brene Brown’s podcast Dare to Lead with Amelia and Emily.