When it comes to stress, not all types are created equal.
Stress can range from the good kind that pushes you forward to achieve more ( also referred to as Eustress), or the type that leads to discomfort such as headaches, anxiety, muscle tightness, or a panic attack (known as Distress). Either way, your brain and body are going to have a reaction which colors how you see the world.
There are a few common characteristics present during Distress.
*There's generally a FEAR component.
The Reptilian (or Survival brain) is constantly looking for real threats, and also something called PERCEIVED threats. These wouldn't necessarily be considered threats by your Logical brain. Examples would be traffic, feeling like you have nothing in your closet to wear, your grades, and what to make for dinner tonight. None of those examples are life-threatening, but because they all cause stress on some level, your Survival brain will begin a fight or flight response which can range from mild to severe.
*It goes deeper than you think.
Most people know why they have stress because they can link it to something concrete like traffic, bills to pay, etc. I'm here to assure you that your stress goes MUCH deeper than that. What you THINK is causing your stress is only the tip of the iceberg. When you put your stress down to logical reasons (and they are totally valid), you still aren't accounting for the actual portion of your brain that is reactive (AKA the Survival brain). There's no logic in survival. It would take too much time to logically assess whether or not a potential threat warrants a particular response. Instead, your brain reacts quickly and decisively. After all, it's trying to save your life! So, when you're trying to become a Stress Buster, you have to address WHY something would be a threat to your survival.
Let's use being stuck in traffic as an example. When you're stuck in traffic, you begin to feel stressed. Why? It's going to make you late for work. What's so stressful about that? Well, there could be lots of things. However, your job is how you earn money. If your job is threatened (i.e. by being late and consequences related to that), then that means your ability to earn money is threatened. If you don't have money, then you won't be able to pay your mortgage, buy food, put gas in your car, or even afford your car! Basically, your entire way of living would be jeopardized if something happened to your job! This kicks the Survival brain into overdrive because food and shelter are considered survival basics. So, your stress has very little to do with actually being stuck in traffic (even though it's not very fun), but on a deeper level, it's due to the fear of losing things important to your survival. When you add on the factor that there's nothing you can do about being stuck in traffic, this elevates the stress even more because the Survival brain is afraid that you can't escape the threat!!!!
*It's destructive in some way.
Maybe you've never thought about stress being destructive, but it's causing damage in a number of ways. Physically, stress can raise your blood pressure, and depletes your cortisol levels (which your body needs to survive) leading to a physical cascade of issues including fatigue, insomnia, issues with memory, and hormone imbalance. It can also manifest as physical pain such as headaches, muscle tension, or stomachaches. Emotionally, stress can cause anxiety, outbursts of anger or frustration, depression, low self-esteem and despair. The effects can be so powerful that it can hinder your life in multiple ways. Even exercise which is considered Eustress (the good kind) can cause stress to the body in the form of fatigue, muscle tearing, or soreness. Either way, stress is stress and the body has to do something with it.
So how can you be a Stress Buster?
You've probably heard this a million times before, so let's just make this a million and one. There's a reason why meditation gets recommended so often....because it works!!! Meditation is one way besides sleep to let the brain rest and assimilate your experiences. The most common complaint I hear about meditation is that people feel they can't turn their brain off to meditate "properly". People with insomnia often say the same thing about sleep. In my opinion, there's no right or wrong way to meditate. Even if you're only doing 10 minutes a day, your body will have a positive physical response. It takes discipline to start any new habit, so make it as easy as possible to fit in your day. I like to use an app on my phone called Insight Timer. It has meditations lasting from 2 minutes - 2 hours. They have guided meditations if you don't know where to start, or instrumental meditations with soothing, relaxing music. You can start off slowly until you feel the (positive) effects and you'll want to keep going. Trust me, good meditations are addictive!
2) Dig into your stress
A lot of people just LIVE with stress, but they don't do much about it. What a shame!!! Living with chronic stress is just settling for ongoing unhappiness. You deserve so much more! What's even worse, many people turn to substances such as food, drugs, alcohol, medications, and even CBD to dull the symptoms of stress but fail to address the underlying cause.
Here's where I can help. Neuro-Emotional Technique (N.E.T.) helps you access all parts of the brain including the Reptilian (Survival brain or unconscious). By using N.E.T., you'll be able to fully understand (logically and emotionally) WHY a certain situation is activating your fight or flight response resulting in a stress reaction. It's quick, easy, effective and enlightening.
3) Stop putting yourself last!
Did you know that weak or non-existent boundaries are making your stress worse? Empaths and Highly Sensitive People (HSP's) often give more than they allow themselves to receive. Over time, your energy gets depleted, your stress goes up, and it's easy to lose your compassion for others. This is often referred to as "Compassion Fatigue".
One reason Empaths put others first is due to how we've been conditioned by society. As children, we're taught to share what we have ,and if we don't then we're selfish. Being called selfish is undesirable and feels down right shameful. Because of the attached emotion of shame, it implies that you're not a good person if you're selfish, and you want to be thought of as good right? So what happens? You put yourself last in order to be noble and avoid the label of selfish and the attached shame. In order to break this vicious cycle, it requires you to change the way you view self-care and even the concept of being selfish. It's not selfish to take care of yourself. In fact, that's what you're survival brain wants you to do! Even the airlines advise you to put your own oxygen mask on before you help others. You'll be able to help others more effectively if you help yourself first.
Dr. April Darley is an expert at resolving stuck patterns of behavior through Neuro-Emotional Technique (N.E.T.). By identifying self-sabotaging behaviors, she can help you regain confidence, improve relationships, remove blocks to health, wealth and success in any area of your life.
Book your appointment today and get one step closer to busting your stress!