“I’m stressed about my stress.”
My client’s nervous laughter as she said those words transitioned to tears as she explained that she was well aware of the negative ways stress impacts the body.
Headaches, insomnia, heartburn, muscle tension, decreased immunity, cardiovascular disease…the list goes on and on.
“But, my mind AND my body are trapped in this cycle, Jen. I don’t know how to get out.”
While I think it’s important to understand the toll stress takes on the body, sometimes that information makes us feel worse. It magnifies our stress, and fails to provide us an exit map.
There is a way out of the stress cycle, though. The very same body that can be harmed by our stress, can also be the tool that helps break the cycle.
Instead of focusing on how stress impacts the body, shift your awareness to how the body can alleviate your stress.
(NOTE: October’s FREE Online Healthy Moving Community class is all about reducing stress. It’s available limited time only! Get yourself registered here.)
Here are three facts about the stress and the body that will help you feel better:
1. A Change of Perspective: You feel stressed when you perceive an imbalance between the demands you are facing and your capacity to meet those demands.
So, you’re up against something and you’re not sure you have what it takes to meet the challenge. Or, what you’re facing lacks challenge or stimulation and you don’t feel like you’re living up to your potential.
But, it’s all about your perception, how you are seeing the situation.
Sometimes, all you need to break out of the stress cycle is a little help in seeing things differently.
And your body offers many ways to help shift your perspective. Try going for a 15-minute walk outside. Or, lying on the floor with your legs extended up the wall.
2. Radical Presence: Most stressful thoughts begin with the same two words – what if.
“What if this happens?” “What if she says that?” “What if it doesn’t work out?” “What if it all falls apart?”
When you are living in the “Land of What If,” you are not present. You are somewhere in the future.
Your body can help you practice radical presence. It can help you be porous to the moment.
Try this. Take a moment to observe your surroundings with all of your senses. What do you see, smell, hear, feel and taste.
Soak in those sensations for a few moments and let your stress melt away.
3. Relaxation Response: Stress sets off alarms inside your brain, which prepare your body for “fight or flight.”
While those physiological responses help you survive short-term, physical threats, they aren’t needed for the long-term modern stress you face. And, they might actually make you feel more stressed.
Thankfully, your brain is also wired with an off switch for the fight or flight response. The relaxation response stimulates the parasympathetic part of your nervous system. It reverses the psychological and physiological effects of stress.
You can trigger your relaxation response in a number of ways. Do some simple stretches to ease physical tension. Pay attention to your breath for a few minutes. Practice Savasana (formal relaxation).
Yes, your stress impacts your body. But, the mind-body connection is a two way street. With some simple shifts, you can begin to use your body to create a ripple effect that eases your stress.
This month’s FREE community class is all about reducing stress. It will be available for a limited time only. Get yourself registered here!