Stress is a killer.
Suddenly panic sets in. GAH! What about this? That? No! Quick! Do it! Fix it! Now!Now!Now!
Many of us get so jacked up on anxiety there is no rest. We wake up in the morning to crisis mode–and it never slows down.
Those alarms blare all day long. Our tempers fray, our self-care goes down the tubes–even our ability to think balks and stutters like a rusty car on a cold morning. It’s pretty scary. For many of us, it’s a struggle to keep from screaming–never mind being focused, pleasant, or positive.
Stress damages the body and corrodes the soul. It wears us out, it works fast, and it often doesn’t go away by itself.
What can we do?
The good news is that stress and anxiety are not the boss of you, even though they may seem to be. But stepping back can be very, very difficult. And, yes, some of us live in terrifying or crazy stressful situations where stepping back seems dangerous. However, even when our lives are in danger, a clear head is still an asset.
Staying in panic mode is more dangerous. To the body, Stress = THREAT!!!! This is how our reptile brain interprets stress. Those clamoring alarms can keep us from managing our situation creatively–or at all. Plus the constant stress eats away at our equilibrium, so we are short-tempered, too. A winning combination, right? Fear and Rage. Woo!
For many of us, those bells aren’t even current. They are leftover alarms that never got properly reset after whatever disaster started them up. We go through our lives freaking out because we never got to resolve our earlier freakouts. We are still upset inside from things that happened forever ago. It’s not as simple as telling ourselves to suck it up and get over it.
Here are four strategies to settle down, breathe, and develop resilience.
Believe that you can step back. It is possible–and safe–to breathe and relax. That alone is half the battle. Take some long exhales, twice as long as your inhale. Exhale the stress.
Let go of worry. Worry feels valuable, but it just wears you out. Send positive energy to the object of worry instead. Visualize it safe, resolving, protected, whatever would be the best outcome. It is a far more useful effort.
Focus on the present moment. We get lost in our cascade of anxiety. Grounding ourselves in the present helps us stay focused and clear. We do this by focusing on the exhale and noticing our toes. Avoid things that heighten stress. Look at things that help you feel calm.
Belly dance can help. When we use Rhythmic Breath we help the brain turn off the scrabbling anxious mind. Dancing free improv for 20 minutes with Rhythmic Breath and Slow Movement can help reset the alarms and give us a clean slate for the day.
We don’t have to live in fear. These strategies can be used any time. Keep them handy. Remember them. Use them.
My goal this year is to Reset the Alarms.