By: Debra Myers (Stress Management Coach and Consultant)
Faced with a feeling of being overpowered by global events that concern your health, finances, or a potential new direction you might need to take may leave you wondering, “What can I do? Do I have to wait for the world to settle down before I can feel better? Is it possible that I can be calmer inside, despite everything outside swimming in uncertainty?”
Understandably, many of us can feel anxious because of the current, unanticipated conditions. Using the guidance of Stress Management, you become aware of how your mind and body operate when stressed, so you have more control over it. In other words, by noticing your reaction, you adjust by taking advice from an overactive mind towards a less reactive one. A calmer vision enables you to access creativity, a wider perspective, and a hopeful outlook.
Our survival mode, if left unchecked, will go into overdrive in anticipation of peril. Optimally, stress is designed to protect us in the present moment, and whenever the danger has passed, the body and mind recover, repair, and relax. On the other hand, if you find yourself anxious, agitated, and unable to unwind, you are under the influence of the survival mode. Mentally, this perspective will bring up worst-case scenarios; keeping you on-guard from danger and making you feel at a disadvantage. Some of the ways it speaks to you are by saying, “This is too much! This shouldn’t be happening! I don’t think I can handle it! I don’t know a way out!” Physically, this perspective tenses your muscles and speeds up your heart rate and breathing, which results in compromising the body.
Anger can be a way we unconsciously hide our fear. We become angry when we feel limited, powerless, and lack control over our circumstances. The body tenses when these thoughts predominate and culminate in the form of pain. Pain though can make us alert to our imbalance. Instead of being complacent and numb to the effects of stress, Stress Management techniques use Mindfulness (non-judgmental awareness) to make our reactions conscious and release our tension.
No matter how long our unconscious, survival-mode way of thinking has been a habit, we all have a reset inside of us for peace and stability. Even during the throes of stress, our reset is hardwired to help us wind down and thrive. Stress Management techniques can help us shift into a lower gear of emotions and reactions. Practicing the exercises calms the body/mind, and affords the nervous system the opportunity to feel safe. When we feel safe, we relax and can rise to the challenge of bringing stability to our inner world, even though our outer world seems to be in chaos.
The following is an exercise previously used for clients to release the intensity of their emotions. Technical accuracy is not essential, but a reference for the mind to follow. Start from the beginning, whenever the mind has wandered. If the image used triggers rather than calms, tailor it so it is less stimulating. Adjust your breathing rate to a comfortable pace. Remain open to several attempts with this exercise, before you can unwind.
Imagine a jet on a holding pattern burning off its fuel before it can land.
Exhale out of the mouth. Envision you are releasing anger/fear.
Breathe in through the nose, and breathe out of the mouth for 5-6 seconds.
Breathe in, and breathe out for 5-6 seconds.
Now, breathe in, and breathe out for 6-7 seconds.
Breathe in, and breathe out envisioning flames out of the afterburners.
Breathe in, and breathe out for 6-7 seconds.
Breathe in, and breathe out your anger, fear, or emotional intensity.
Breathe in, and breathe out for 7-8 seconds.
Breathe in, and breathe out imagining the color and shapes of the clouds.
Breathe in, and breathe out more intensity for 7-8 seconds.
Breathe in, and breathe out of the mouth for as long as comfortable.
Imagine the landing gear being extended as you exhale for as long as comfortable.
As your aircraft begins to slow and touch down on the runway, observe if you are aware of the feeling of your hands or feet? This sense of grounded-ness means you are decreasing the emotional intensity. As you breathe out completely, imagine your aircraft slowing down even more. Just as you hear the wheels touch down and skid on the runway, observe if you can sense your body in the chair, or feel your feet on the floor. Be as descriptive as you can. In your aircraft scenario, imagine you have landed at the gate, and a support team awaits you. Your team can be real or imagined, spiritual or human, or a combination. At this time, notice if you feel more relieved and relaxed. You are allowing yourself to care, rather than scare yourself. Let Stress Management techniques encourage you to release your reactions, restore your energy, and revitalize your perspective.
As a Certified Stress Management Coach and Consultant for over 13 years, Debra Myers empowers clients and corporations to release their layers of physical and mental tension with her Unwrapping Stress™ programs and techniques; which assists them to recover, reset, and relax from their stress. Visit: unwrappingstress.com