Every so often, when the stress of the day to day builds, or things start to overwhelm from every direction, it's time to just take a big deep breath, take yourself by the hand and tell yourself, "its ok, we've got this, now lets just take a little downtime". That could be 5 minutes of consciously tuning into where the stress is in your body and letting that go; 20 minutes walking by the beach or river, mindfully; 40 minutes in a nice warm bath with essential oils; or two weeks on vacation if you have the ability to do so.
Stress, anxiety and overwhelm are not just confined to our minds; our bodies very much 'keep the score' of all of our experiences.
Our whole body reacts and responds to the stress and trauma of life. From tightness in our arms, chest and shoulders, to knots in our stomach, heart palpitations, headaches etc.
We can hold onto the stress in our bodies for a long time after the stressful event has passed, staying in that moment instead of letting it go.
That is not something I want to consciously do; its no wonder we can wake up with a crooked neck or pinched nerve in our back or shoulder.
There is so much research on this and many practitioners utilise body based techniques to 'hack the system' and bring a real sense of calm to our body's which then helps to calm our mind and emotions.
Anxiety tackled from the bottom up not just from the top down. It is not just all in our head, it is in our body as well.
I am always amazed at how well and how quickly some of these techniques can work as I sit with stressed and anxious clients in my rooms, and after hearing their very real stories, we first do some body based work.
It is an interesting fact that stress cannot reside in a relaxed body. As soon as I feel stress, my body tenses.
We have to keep on letting that stress go from our bodies while working thru the stress and anxious thoughts in our minds.
It may be as simple as taking a deep breath and letting go of all the stress that has built up, focussing on the tightness of muscles, dropping those shoulders that have crept up to around your head and neck, dropping your tongue from the roof of your mouth and dropping your jaw. Relaxing your arms, unclenching your toes.
How does that feel?
Sometimes we don't notice the stress in our body until we focus on letting it go. But as you start to intentionally notice how you are holding your body, you might be surprised at how often you discover areas of tension you were previously unaware were there. How much better does it feel to be in a relaxed body.
So if you want to take a deep breath and RESET today, notice where the tension is, every muscle, from head to toe, and just relax that part. Tell yourself "I am letting that go now" the stress in that muscle, and just let it go.
Bottom up approaches are really great ways to hack the anxious response.
Top down approaches that can work in conjunction with this can include taking note of the thoughts you are having that may be causing your body to respond with tension.
Asking "what have I just been thinking about?" maybe also "Why is this important to me?" and also "What does this mean?" - this can help us to simplify and get to the bottom of our anxious response more quickly.
Then we can start to work on it with questions such as "Can I change this (or what part of this can I influence) - can I live with this (Can I accept the situation or should I) - should I move on from this and start again".
I can ask myself "What is it that I know how to do? Where is the need? How can I help?" (Priya Parker). In this way I can influence my situation and not just feel a victim to it.
We would love to talk to you about ways forward and dealing with anxiety and stress and burnout.
But maybe right now you can take 5 -10- 20 or 40 to take a breath and RESET.