How do you wear your Stress?
We all have stress. It’s just a part of life that we can’t avoid or deny. But, how we dance with stress on a daily basis determines how long we can sustain the dance.
I can recall, years ago as a child, going out to buy a new backpack with my parents. They insisted that I try it on with books in it to see if it felt comfortable and fit my body. Even though I found the whole process very boring at that age, decades later I found myself doing the same thing when I was pregnant.
A week before I found out I was pregnant, I was in a major car accident on the highway, which left me with back, neck and shoulder pain. As a result, carrying my baby on my body was a task. So I went out to try different baby carrier options - front carrier, back carrier, one with straps or the cloth body wrap type – until I found one that worked perfectly. And I am so glad that I took the time to really experiment and explore this as it helped me enjoy the walk with my baby that much more. I view my relationship with stress the same way.
The stressor in your life can be emotional pain, financial strain, relationship chaos, workload or all of the above. However, truly understanding and connecting with how you best carry that stress in your life is what will sustain you. And this is the reason learning a variety of strategies that suit your personality and lifestyle is key.
Here are 3 quick things to consider:
One of the best ways to relieve stress is to tune into your body. It is speaking to you numerous times during the day. Do you understand it’s language? Numerous meditation and mindfulness activities can help you learn what it’s saying to you. For instance, slow abdominal breathing is one of the easiest and quickest ways to activate the parasympathetic mode. We all have a very long vagus nerve, which travels from our skull down the neck into the chest and abdomen, communicating to every organ in the body. The vibrations we create when practicing certain breathing strategies acts like a massage to that nerve.
2. Communicate Consciously
After communicating with yourself on a deeper level, you can shift gears and try to improve how you communicate with people you share space with each day. One skill that is extremely helpful in preventing and eliminating stress is conscious communication (also known as nonviolent communication).
3. Mind Your Thoughts
Although the specific thoughts you have may differ, the brain regions involved and the physiological response to them will be the same. Whether you are worried that a bear may attack you at your next camping trip or you’re reliving a heated conversation you had with your partner, the different thoughts trigger the same response. This physiological stress response means an increase in heart rate, breathing rate, muscle tension and elevation of cortisol and other stress hormones. Hence, learning how to implement more relaxed facial muscles and slower breath will retrain the brain to reduce its stressful thoughts. Also, learning how to alter your limiting beliefs attached to certain life events will impact how your body responds to these stressful thoughts.
These are some ways you can learn how to carry your load differently. Understanding and practicing these strategies will ultimately change your relationship with stress.
Don’t wait for your backpack to turn your pain into a chronic life situation. Your time is N.O.W to explore how you can wear it best, shift its position, temporarily put it down or let go of it all together.