Our stress level is a gauge, an indicator that pressure is building, boiling over. This could be a deadline at work, something that can’t be controlled such as road rage, or that high credit card bill. Stress begins in the brain and signals the body, to ready itself for the classic “fight-or-flight” mode.
What results is sweating on the brow, fuming, as the heart begins to pound, the breathing becomes shallow and rapid, as the muscles in the body begin to tense up. This is a natural chain reaction to stress. The stress response is instinctive and quick to elevate, so what’s needed is using mindful stress relieving strategies.
Once stress begins to rise, it becomes difficult to calm yourself down. What’s clinically proven however, is there are ways to quickly reduce the stress response once it kicks in. This by activating various brain networks, which can calm things down from its source.
Pinpoint When The Stress Begins
Once stress begins, what the amygdala does is takes over the brain, this to prepare it for the fight-or-flight response. This is a primitive impulse, where our ancestors were faced with real life or death situations.
What then happens is the breathing becomes shallow and rapid, as the body clams up. This response is an instant instinctive reaction, that’s caused by cortisol and adrenaline shooting through the body.
So the key becomes to practice monitoring the initial signs of the stress response, such as the shoulders beginning to tense up, and realizing this before the brain becomes hijacked.
Deep Rhythmic Breathing Using 5-2-6
What slow mindful rhythmic breathing does is activates the vagus nerve, which travels through the body, linking the brain to all the major organs such as the heart, lungs, and gut.
What the vagus nerve does, is slows down the activated fight-or-flight response, reversing the body back into its previous relaxed state, which is often referred to as “rest and digest.”
The way to activate this, is by performing the 5-2-6 breathing method. This by breathing deeply for a count of 5 seconds, holding your breath for 2 seconds, then breathing out through the mouth or nostrils, for 6 seconds.
Describe What You See
Describe 3 things that you immediately see in front of you. Describe its size, color, shape, and texture. For instance, “a small fluffy brown puppy jumping.”
This can be done wherever you are, indoors or outdoors. What doing so does is mindfully snaps your attention back to the present moment. What it does is eliminates the worry and fear, that’s associated with what may happen in the future.
Describing what you mindfully see, does is disengages the setting in the brain, which gets activated once you begin to feel stress, or daydream. What it does, is allows the brain to ruminate.
Look At Nature Images
What looking at pictures of nature, such as a calm serene forest or pets, does is helps the brain and the heart recover quicker, when experiencing stress.
This is based on a study of college students, who were all stressed because of an extremely difficult exam. They were all told immediately after the exam, that they all performed poorly.
What the researchers then did was divide the participants, into two separate groups. The first group was shown images of a forest with a creek running through it, this in a park like setting.
The other group was shown a busy urban scene with congested chaotic traffic, where a crowd of people were shoving and pushing.
Those who were exposed to the serene image, had a quicker cardiovascular recovery, which resulted in a lower heart rate and blood pressure. Those shown the image of the congested city street, all reacted slower.
So the key becomes once beginning to feel stressed, intercept the response by viewing a serene image on your computer, or look outdoors, provided there’s a peaceful forest like setting, this to calm yourself down.
Channel The Stress Into Excitement
Instead of attempting to control the raging impulse that is stress, and trying to calm it down, attempt to harness that built up energy, which are the various stress chemicals, by funneling it towards helping you stay focused, motivated, or remaining to working harder.
Think about the passion that you have for the task at hand, or the ideas that you’re attempting to convey, this without becoming overwhelmed or flustered.
The key becomes to reinterpreting the stress or anxious feeling, by channeling it as excitement and a challenge. This could be when making a speech, generate positive feelings about communicating well, this rather than attempting to calm the nerves down.
Mindfully Stand Erect
What standing erect upright does is naturally makes one feel more confident, while physiologically, what it’s doing is decreasing the levels of stress hormones in the body.
What’s known for certain, is that those who are in a constant slouch posture, this while performing some type of high-pressure task, reports having more negative based feelings, than those who were consciously sitting or standing upright.
What studies show is that standing erect in an upright posture, does is increases testosterone, while simultaneously decreasing the levels of the stress hormone cortisol. What this combination does is forces one to feel less anxious, while being more assertive and confident.
Clench Then Release Your Right Fist Several Times
What clenching your right hand does, is activates motion in the left side of the brain, which is known to be more verbal and logical thinking. The right side of the brain, is more emotional and executive.
So when beginning to feel stress, fear, or anxiety, which are all right brain functions, what activating your left brain by clenching the right fist does, is forces you to calm down.