Three Important Things About Stress



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Three Important Things About Stress


This afternoon I experienced an honest to goodness, over-the-top primal stress response....


Squatting in front of the bookcase I reached in to remove one of the bigger books only to have a massive [expletive deleted] huntsman spider come galloping out around the side of the book toward my very vulnerable hand. In less time than it takes to blink an eye I found myself standing several metres away in the doorway muttering a few choice words that I know my mother wouldn’t be pleased to hear.


As someone who teaches stress management this was the perfect opportunity for me to really study stress as it is meant to occur in our lives as a lightening fast fight or flight response to protect us from danger.


A quick internal selfie revealed a racing heart, trembling limbs, shallow and rapid breathing along with racing thoughts. Oh, and a violent inclination to hurl something heavy at said spider…only the spider was sitting on the book now lying on the floor across the room. All of these signs are the body's way of generating speed, strength and the smarts needed to avoid serious danger.


My next reaction was also part of the classic primal stress response – and that was to heave a huge sigh of relief. This is the magic signal to the autonomic nervous system that the danger had passed and soon the heart began to slow down, breathing became slower and thinking became a lot more rational.


"in a normal stress situation the stress response is shut down around 10 minutes after the stress event has passed."


It’s a truly extraordinary response that allows us to move faster, generate more strength and think more creatively all in order to support self-preservation. And it all happens faster than you can imagine. To be honest I have no idea how my body managed to transport itself several metres across the room backward so quickly!


So how is it that this incredibly helpful response is also one of the most debilitating problems in the world today? In the workplace stress and stress related illness is responsible for more downtime than any other cause.


Here’s three important reasons stress is such a problem today:

1. Imagined problems cause the same stress reaction as real ones

That’s right…your unconscious mind (that’s the part of you that runs your body) does not know the difference between a real spider jumping out and you thinking about one. So, as you are commuting home from work mulling over the day’s events, reliving that difficult conversation with your partner, replaying that stressful moment with the kids in your mind, you are creating and perpetuating a matching stress response in your body.


2. Stress shuts down other vital resources

In order to generate the energy needed for a live-saving stress response, your body diverts resources away from other vital areas such as the gut, reproductive system and immune system. You can see how prolonged levels of stress can lead to illness. That’s stress showing up as your Dis-Ease.


3. Thoughts create feelings create thoughts

Once you have a stressful thought and your body creates matching chemistry, that in-turn stimulates another matching thought…which triggers more body chemistry, and so you can get caught in a self-perpetuating downward spiral. Fortunately, the reverse is also true for positive thinking and physiology!


"When you embrace stress, you can transform fear into courage, isolation into connection, and suffering into meaning"
~ Kelly McGonigal


The good news is stress can be managed through a three step process and can actually improve your performance and brain power:

  1.  Live Consciously: that means be aware of what is happening in your life - the BIG picture
  2. Own your responsibility for managing your stress levels and
  3. Take meaningful action to create the balance you need


Effective ways you can take control of your stress response include:

  • Meditation and Mindfulness. Calms your busy mind, generates self-awareness and compassion, switches off the stress response.
  • Laughter! Switches off the stress response and triggers the immune system.
  • Managed thinking and feeling techniques. Reframing thoughts, hardwiring positive feelings.
  • Strong time and priority management
  • Planned life balance programs - a structured way to 'live consciously'

Find out if your life balance is supporting you, CONTACT ME for a Life Balance worksheet and a complimentary 30 minute consultation.



Stress Management Mackay QLD and across Australia


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