When we feel stressed our bodies are on high alert. When I’m stressed, I feel as though I’m holding my breath, my jaw is tense, and I feel as though time is slipping away.
Although everyone experiences stress differently, we are all wired to be on the lookout for danger.
Why? Because million’s of years ago our survival depended on it. If a great big tiger attacked us, we needed to either run or hide from it. These days danger comes in the form of mounting responsibilities, high levels of uncertainty and unexpected changes.
The difference with a tiger is that once we have dealt with the situation, we can turn off the high alert switch and relax. At least until the next tiger approaches!
But these days, for many people, stress is on-going, never-ending and truly exhausting.
Our high alert switch was likely activated at some point and then we never quite got the break to turn it off. Before we know it, we are stuck in this high alert mode, always ready to fight the tiger. And this becomes our new normal.
I know because I have been there!
What is the solution?
First, we need to recognize if our stress response has got stuck in the on position. Are we on high alert more than we need to be?
Here are some questions to ask yourself…
Are you irritable? Tired? Snapping at loved ones? Judging yourself and others? Not sleeping?
Yes, to some or all? Then it’s time to turn off that switch.
How do I find time to turn off the stress switch?
By turning off this stress switch we can start to deactivate our nervous system. We need to find pockets of peace where we can allow our bodies to relax.
We need to practice turning off the switch of being scared. There is no actual tiger!
Finding 5-10 minutes is all you need to allow your body to relax, which is easier said than done in a busy schedule.
But… think of this time out as the safety message on the aeroplane. You need to put your oxygen mask on first before you can help others.
This is when the i-pad for the kids comes in handy!
What should I do in my 5-10 minutes?
The aim of your time alone is to create stillness and calm. There is no agenda, no performance and no set goals.
I would suggest taking note of the time that you start your time out and don’t leave until the end of your allocated time no matter how bored or fidgety you get.
Remember your body thinks it needs to be out fighting the tiger and the stress of the world. It is not going to want you to sit still!
During your de-stress time try different things until you find things that work for you.
I enjoy rotating between Yoga Nidra (sleep yoga), journaling, breathing exercises, tapping and guided meditation. YouTube is full of fantastic content.
What are the benefits?
I used to think taking time out of my busy day was counterproductive because it would slow me down and make me more stressed.
But taking these 5-10 minutes even just twice a day has had incredible benefits.
I’m a far nicer person. I’m less judgmental to others and myself. And surprisingly I become more productive with a clearer mind.
So that’s it…
We are stressed because the highly alert switch is has become stuck in the on position. Making us think we need to fight a tiger!
Our job is to desensitize the nervous system and turn off that switch by finding pockets of time for our bodies to relax.
How we use these pockets of time is a personal choice. And every time we come out the other side the stress signal is weakened and our bodies truly feel safe to relax.
How are you going to find and fill your pockets of time today?
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