Post ID 724

Posted by on March 20, 2020

You face daily stressors, with no end in sight.

You need to stay well – in body and mind – to best make it through these uncertain times, care for others and contribute to the collective well-being. 

No pressure. 

Keep reading for the simple step you’ve been missing that will transform your response to and results from stress, keeping you healthier and more resilient to face another day.

The most succinct explanation of how stress works that I’ve found is from Emily and Amelia Negoski’s book, Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle. Much of what I have to share here is from their research on how stress works, the crucial step to de-stressing that we usually miss and ideas of how to take that step in as little as 20 seconds! 

How Stress Works

You know you’re under tremendous stress, but have you ever stopped to think about what’s really going on with stress?

Ideally it’s a 4-step sequence or cycle:

Stressor Experience -> Stress Experience -> Stressor Response -> Stress Response

1) Stressor Experience

A stressor is anything in your environment that you sense with your 5 senses or imagine, and that you interpret as a potential threat. Stressors can be external (work, finances, relationships, time, societal norms, global events) or internal (unhelpful emotions, self-criticism, regrets of the past, worries of the future).

Ex. You may find that your new routine of staying at home has introduced all kinds of new internal and external stressors that are impacting your sense of safety and security.

2) Stress Experience

Stress is the neurological and physiological shift that happens in your body when you encounter a stressor. Your entire body and mind instinctively change your neurochemical, hormonal, digestive, immune, cardiovascular, musculoskeletal and reproductive systems, in response to your perceived threat. This helps you get ready to navigate the ‘danger’. 

Ex. Your body is flooded with stress throughout the day (which you may notice as quicker breathing, increased blood pressure, tense muscles, vigilant focus, heightened senses, etc.) in response to the challenges you experience. 

3) Stressor Response

The stressor response is the way you manage the threats that arise. You are likely quite good at addressing the stressors of your day, whether or not the way you address them is helpful. Your long-term goal is to minimize and find more helpful responses to the stressors in your life – but that’s not our focus today.

Ex. It may have been a wild day, but you managed to make it through – got some work done, missed a deadline, entertained the kids, yelled at the kids, made a healthy meal, ate chips, called your mom, hid, whatever – and now you hope to get some sleep and then start again tomorrow . . . 

But wait! 

This is where we typically stop, but by doing so we’re not completing the stress cycle and becoming unhealthier and less resilient by the day.

This is the crucial missing step . . . 

4) Stress Response

The stress response is what you do about all those activated neurochemicals and body systems. The only way to signal to your body that you are safe – and the only way to effectively complete the stress cycle – is to physically DO something. It doesn’t work to just mentally think to yourself “I’m safe now, all’s well.” Your body speaks ‘body language’ so you must communicate safety through your body.

You must take a physical action to give your body the space and time it needs to heal from the process. 

Ex. At the time of the stressful event, or at least within the same day, move your body enough to breath deeply for at least 20 minutes – but even 20 seconds helps. And if you can’t, simply DOING something is the next best plan.

How to De-Stress in Minutes

To effectively de-stress, all you have to do is physically DO something:

  • Best – Move your body however you can to get yourself breathing deeply for 20-60 minutes daily.
  • Better – Stand up, take a deep breath, tense all your muscles for 20 seconds, then shake it out with a big exhale. 
  • Good – Practice other less physical activities that will also help: 
    • Deep breaths with long, slow exhalation
    • Positive social interactions
    • Deep belly laughs
    • Tear inducing cries
    • Affection with a person or pet with whom you feel mutual respect and trust
    • Creative activities that encourage emotional expression
    • Spiritual practice to feel supported by something greater than you
    • Nature connection for multi-layered health benefits

In the moment – you will know that your action has worked when you feel a subtle shift in your body toward peace and you feel slightly better. 

Over time, with consistent practice – like prioritizing 30 minutes in your day to physically de-stress – you will keep up with the daily stress and begin to heal the potentially decades of unprocessed stress within your body that has built up over time.

I like to think of all of this in terms of a stress spiral. By effectively practicing and completing the 4 steps, you will keep yourself moving in a healthy and forward direction, like an upward spiral. When there’s a glitch in the 4 steps, or when you’re missing one, you’ll get stuck or find yourself spiraling downward.

What one simple action will you commit to doing every day to physically relieve your stress? 

Stress well, be well.

     Nicole

P.S. Want more insights like this and exclusive notes from me directly to your inbox? SIGN UP HERE to join my email community.

Posted in: Body, Renewal

Post ID 76

Skiing

Posted by on January 19, 2017

It’s the heart of ski season here, and while cross country skiing the other day I was thinking a lot about you and your hopes and dreams for 2017. As I enjoyed my quiet, sunny morning of exercise and fresh air, I thought about the ski tips I’ve learned in the past and what they have to do with you.

We’re more than half way through January, so you may have already hit an obstacle when it comes to achieving your New Year’s resolutions or goals. Are you feeling a bit stuck as you learn the new skills required to achieve your plans?

Enjoy these ski tips as a metaphor for getting back on track with your goals. Even if you have no interest in skiing or you live in the south, there’s a takeaway here for you.

7 Skiing Success Strategies

  • On Improving Technique – Practising new techniques feels so wrong and unnatural at first, but eventually the flow will surpass your expectation. Don’t focus on what you’re doing wrong, instead focus on the proper new technique.
  • On Corners – Lean into the curve in the direction you’re going so that you don’t fall off balance. Keep your head up and look in the direction you want to go.
  • On Uphills – Deliberately place your foot, shift your weight there, place your next foot in front of the other and repeat.  Use the momentum of each step until you get to the top and once you get there keep going. If you stop, you’ll lose your momentum (or fall backwards) and its harder to get going again.
  • On Downhills – Sure, there are tips to learn but eventually you just have to relax an go for it. The more you resist, tense up and worry, the more likely you are to crash! The hardest part is training your brain to know everything is going to be alright. The scariest part is at the top looking down, but once you’ve done it you’re like “oh, I could have done that all along.”
  • On Leaving the Track – When it’s time to change course, step out a little sooner than you feel comfortable, and do it quickly with both feet.
  • On Practice – Learn a few tips, then focus on those a little at a time each day until they come naturally. Commend yourself for trying something new. Enjoy the process.
  • On Celebrating – Sure the experience itself is a reward, but there’s nothing like Finnish pancakes and a sauna to celebrate a job well done!

And I’m sure you can guess where I learned these great tips. A coach, of course! I’m mostly a self-taught skier, but there are just some things you can’t learn from a book or a YouTube video. There’s nothing like the right coach to help you develop more quickly and smoothly than you could on your own.

I love how my ski coach: saw things about what I was doing that I couldn’t see myself and helped me improve them; adapted her lessons to meet me where I was; patiently repeated lessons until I “got it”; helped me through the parts that intimidated me; encouraged me and wanted to me to succeed; was a pleasure to spend time with and made the experience fun!

So as you work on your dreams and desires, may these Skiing Success Strategies help you along your way. But if you’re feeling stuck and would love a coach to help you more quickly and smoothly reach your goals, I’d love to talk. Book a Clarity Call to talk with me about how I can help you succeed in 2017.

Yours Outdoors,
Nicole

Posted in: Adventure
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