Avoiding Stress isn’t the answer – Completing the cycle is!
Stress is unavoidable. As much as we try we cannot escape from stressful situations. But actually the most important thing is how we handle the stressors that life throws at us, however big or small, we have to ‘complete the cycle’, to allow ourselves and our nervous systems to reset, and thus prevent a pattern of chronic stress or burn out. Completing the cycle refers to returning our body to a state of safety or calm, after the stressful situation, what ever that may be.
There are many ways we can complete this cycle and restore calm in our nervous system; Here are 6 evidence based suggestions
Get active – Get your body moving. From a trip to the gym, a run around the park to dancing around the kitchen or jumping up and down on the spot, your body needs you to get physical. Stress has a very physical response in the body, from increased heart rate, altered blood sugars and hormone balance. Getting physical is a great way to normalise those things and reset.
Be creative – This is such an important part of being human and can be so very therapeutic. But due to the busyness of life it often gets put t the bottom of the list. From sculpting, singing, writing, painting or even getting out the kids play doh, do something which appeals to you.
Release the emotions – Crying is something we often refrain from doing, especially as adults. But it is so better out than in, it is a fabulous way to release stress from the body. Tears actually contain cortisol the stress hormone. Children and babies cry all the time, and it helps them express their upset or hurt, heal and then get back to playing and having fun.
Laughter therapy – Laughing, even for the sake of laughing makes us feel better. Laughter therapy is a thing, and laughing is contagious. The physical act of laughing releases feel good hormones and resets our stress levels. So recall a funny event, pop on a comedy or call a good friend who you know will make you laugh. Connecting with a close one is always a good thing to do anyway.
Hugs and affection – From hugging a friend (for 20 seconds), or petting the cat or dog, oxytocin the love and feel good hormone is released. This shifts our body back into a place of safety and calm.
Breathing techniques – Breathing in and out slowly through your nose activates your parasympathetic nervous system and calms you down. Just spending a few minutes a day doing this and focussing on longer, slower breaths can really change your physical state.
Have a go with all of these techniques to see which seems to help you mos completing the cycle of stress, resetting and calming the nervous system. We cannot control what happens to us, nor avoid all the stressors in life, but we can change the way we respond.