6 steps for releasing it, one stress at a time.
There’s a lot of research out there about the connection between stress and the brain. There is even research about the heart and brain connection that relates to emotional stress. Essentially stress is a physiological response to pressures or demands placed on us. The part of our brain that is our emotional center is called the amygdala. When it gets hijacked, meaning we get triggered by a stressor, before we know it we are reacting in ways that are not centered and may seem out of control.
New research suggests that the heart has its own little brain that communicates with our brain. When we take on stress, chemicals are released which affect the body including the heart, affecting our emotional well-being and over time, the cumulative effect is extremely negative. It can pile up and eventually cause dis-ease which we all know can lead to disease unless we either find ways to release the stress or learn how to not take it on as stress. Both require practice, commitment and time and none of it is easy until some time has passed and it becomes a habit.
So let’s talk about releasing some stress.
I find that the easiest way to get yourself ready to do this when you are experiencing stress is to find a few minutes to sit quietly and tune in to your breathing. Once you are in touch with how and where your breath is being taken in to and moved out of your body, you can start to scan your body from head to toe and notice how you are feeling in each area of your body. “This is what stress feels like and did I even notice all of this before I took this quiet time” is a question you can ask yourself.
“What is one thing I can identify that I am doing that is causing this stress” is your next question. The intent here is not to put the focus on the external, the other, but to shine the light within on your own behaviors. Doing it in love without judgment is the most helpful method. I recognize the difficulty of that task since judgment is our number one pastime, especially when it comes to ourselves. It is often the reason why we are so hard on others.
The goal here is to become so well acquainted with it that you are aware whenever it shows up and that awareness should give you pause and then send you into action to start releasing some stress.
Let me share my process with you.
- Ask Yourself: What Emotions Are Coming Up For Me?
Make sure you have an in-depth emotional vocabulary well beyond the usual answers like angry, mad, sad or even frustrated is pretty standard by now. Venture into the world of dismissed, betrayed, lonely, ashamed, embarrassed.
- What is Your Best Guess As To Why These Emotions Are Coming up?
Most of us miss both the emotions and the reasons so you have to stop and take the time to identify both. Identifying why you are feeling like this helps you to investigate further and learn what is really bothering you in order to let go of any false reasons.
- Breathe and Feel Your Feelings.
Take three deep belly breaths and hold each for 4 – 6 seconds and then let each one out slowly. Sit in your emotions and actually feel what it is like to experience feeling them. Probably not great, but you can handle it.
- Tune into your body and where the stress is showing up.
We hold stress in many places, identify yours and give some attention to them. For me, 60-second neck rolls and shoulder rolls and massaging my back can really release some tension. Continue to do some belly breathing while you do this.
- Allow yourself to be fully present in the moment.
Don’t imagine scenarios in the future that have not happened and may never happen. Resist the urge to conjure up the past. This often conjures up unnecessary fear. Stay with what is happening now. Be present with what is real.
- Release the feelings and stay aware.
Tell yourself to let go and then either decide on a plan of action or move on to something else. Be aware of your mind’s attempts to bring you back to those feelings and tell your heart that you have released them in this situation.
These are tough times and while a little stress can be motivating, this level of stress threatens to be debilitating. Let’s make releasing stress a priority so that we are here and healthy for ourselves and those we love and those we lead.
Let’s do this!