Today's days are full of stress. Whether you are working in an office, working from home, or doing the full time stay at home mom life, the amount of stress we face on a daily basis is undeniable. Add in the 2020 pandemic and stress levels are through the roof.
Our body is made to effectively deal with stress. BUT... it was not designed for this type of chronic stress that Just Doesn't Go Away! Let alone having to deal with the chronic stress while more stressors are added to the mix! It seems like every month we turn around and there is a new challenge we have to face.
The body was designed to deal with acute stress. You know, like being chased by a hungry Komodo Dragon (all about the lizards in this house right now). You see the hungry giant lizard looking at you drooling like crazy. You pivot and high tail your mom bum out of there as fast as you can! Then you get to safety (let's face it they can not run too far on those short legs), and you take a deep breath, and celebrate. Maybe a little happy dance, maybe you hug your kids a little tighter, or you have some crazy good sexy time. This is what we call Closing the Stress Circuit.
The complete stress cycle has a beginning, middle, and end. From our story above it would go like this:
Your body senses danger - Hello salivating 10 foot lizard!
Your body responds - Mom bum in turbo mode. Blood pressure, heart rate, and breathing rate go up (way up). Your immune system, reproductive system and digestive systems take a back seat (because you need to survive first to do any of those things ever again). Your Allyson Felix sprint has saved your life.
You survive - Thank the Heavens, Universe, Source Energy & Baby Jesus. You celebrate, your systems come back online and your heart/breathing slow back to normal. Phew!
In order for your body to feel safe after stress, you have to completely go through the stress response cycle.
However, in our chronic stress induced world the situation goes a little more like this:
Your little one has an epic tantrum on the way out the door to school.
One of the other moms at drop off is taking up 2 spots and you have to circle around to the far side and jog your kid to the school door as the bell rings.
Traffic jam, now you are late for work, you have that big presentation to give, and you haven't even had breakfast yet.
Your heart rate is elevated, your breaths become shallow, your thoughts spin out to worst case scenarios and thoughts of what else could go wrong this morning. By the time your presentation is finished, you are now behind on all of your emails and the day goes by in a flurry.
You get home, make a quick dinner and finally get the little exhausted monkey off to bed.
You collapse on the couch with a big glass of red, a bag of chips and zone out to the new season of The Crown.
Through your whole day you didn't get a chance for your body to feel safe. Your body wasn't able to release the stress and your day kept piling it onto you.
By the time you get home you collapse out of exhaustion, frustration and feeling the need to escape. But physiologically, your body isn't running from the stress dragon. So that stress (prolonged increased cortisol) stays in your system.
There are a number of ways you can close off your Stress Circuit, but here are 3 that you can do fairly easily.
RUN - I don't mean just get up and run away from your meetings, your tantruming child or your life stress. But getting some physical exercise is an awesome release for your body. Whether it is going for a run, a walk, a weightlifting session or a yoga class, set the intention that this exercise is going to help you release the stress of the day and that your body is safe.
BREATHE - Sit in stillness for just a couple of minutes. I like a nice deep box breath after a stressful event. A few cycles and you will feel so much better. Again, take a moment to just remind your body that you are safe and the threat has passed.
DANCE - Girl, throw on some Beyonce and dance! Dancing is an awesome way to get movement in, literally shake up your energy and a form of celebrating. You always feel better, lighter and happier after a 5 minute dance party. Figure out a couple power songs that crank up your energy and keep them close by for whenever you need it. Even listening to it at your desk for a couple minutes after a meeting can help you shift out of the stress and into a more relaxed calm state.
The key is, you need to physically and mentally close the stress circuit. Your body and mind both want to feel safe, secure and at peace even for a moment. So if you can allow yourself some time after a stressful meeting, commute, fight with the strong willed 6 year old, your body can process the stress easier and move back into the rest and digest phase.
I know we can all use less stress in our lives, but realistically we just need better ways to deal with the stress because it isn't exactly going anywhere any time soon!
Let me know if this helps.