A couple weeks ago, I offered up an idea that maybe a lot of the problem with stress is our perception of it. We live in a both/and universe which means that two (seemingly) contradictory ideas can coexist. What that means is that although your perception of what is stressing you out goes a very long way it the way it affects you, stress and the hormones that cascade through you are very real, and very physical.
Here are some things to think about:
1. Stress requires a response. That’s pretty inherent in the way we’ve defined it. Stress is anything that requires/promotes/stimulates a response from the body.
2. Get rid of the unnecessary conversations. This both metaphorical and literal. There are so many things that we do that we think we have to, but that we really don’t. You don’t have to work so hard to afford a bigger house. You don’t have to exercise 7 days a week. You don’t have to have people in your life that bring you down. You don’t have to be on Facebook. (BLASPHEMY!) You don’t have to always be reachable.
3. It’s physical. Even “mental”stress is physical stress. You body releases the same hormones thinking about something stressful as when you’re experiencing something stressful.
4. Be physical. Move the locus of control from your “mind” to your body. That fatigue you power through? The holidays that you buy your way through even though you can’t afford it and most of the stuff you buy people don’t want? (Put down that CVS stuffed animal with the stupid plastic flower it’s holding. Nobody REALLY wants it.) Get a massage instead or go for a walk. Sleep. Listen to what your body is telling you it needs. Stop trying to convince it that it’s wrong.
5. Respond. If you have eliminated all the unnecessary, respond with authority to the necessary. Take back your power. Find a solution. Run away fast if it’s dangerous. Do.
6. Nourish yourself, nourish yourself, nourish yourself. When we are responding to stressors, our bodies will deplete of certain essential vitamins and minerals. Keep yourself well fed, well rested, etc.
7. Find other ways than food to nourish yourself. On that last note, when you are in a chronically stressed state, don’t eat so much. The digestive system pretty much shuts down when we are acutely stressed. Forcing food down is a bad idea. Food is there to feed you, not take care of your feelings. It is okay to skip breakfast. It is okay to have just some bone broth for dinner. It’s okay to skip a meal or two. This is natural. This is also much easier to do when you are really feeding yourself with nutrient density the rest of the time. A well nourished body is one that can handle stress far better than a malnourished one.
8. Play. You can do this physically by going outside and climbing a tree or making mud pies or snow forts. You can also do this with attitude. The vast majority of the things that stress us out now are not a life and death situation like they were for our ancestors. We still behave as it they are. Release the clench you have on the stressors defining you. It will not KILL you to be 10 minutes late. It may kill you when you chronically freak out about traffic, weakening your heart and immune system. It may kill you when you speed to make up for it.
9. Give it 30 seconds. Jump up and down, shake your hands furiously, move. But, not for long, when you are acutely stressed. Your body is expecting that. The chemicals that flood your blood stream are not meant to be there for long. You evolved from the survivors. And the survivors ran. They ran hard. Or they fought. They fought hard. But, they did neither for long. Just enough to get to safety.
10. Your body is not wrong. We have designed a lifestyle that didn’t really consult the body. We erroneously allow the lifestyle to take precedence. Then, we get angry when the body can’t keep up. The body is not wrong. It’s more than possible that the lifestyle is. You have the power to recreate a lifestyle that honors the body. This is how to have freedom.