We know stress is here to stay. No, not just stress, STRESS!!!!
Yesterday discussed how our constantly growing population leaves us fearful about resources, jobs, and pollution. Then there is information and communication that buzzes around our heads all day and all night and gives little reprieve for quiet. And finally technology that makes today’s products antiquated almost as soon as we learn how to program them.
Now what? Let’s get real with what we can control and what we can’t. We are vitally in need of new adaptable ways of responding. Yes, that we can control our responses. In fact, we MUST learn new ways of controlling our behavior because our old reaction patterns will bring us nothing but problems.
When the weather causes us grief (does anyone remember when tornadoes only happened in Kansas?) it may well mean the end of our neighborhood as we knew it. We watch the oil spill, forest fires, random acts of violence and see that not just nature, man and woman have caused large scale tragedies as well.
When Katrina did its devastation those who were homeless were known as refugees. It used to be that war was what caused such large scale change for individuals and communities, not so anymore. There is no longer any place to hide from unexpected change; it is at every bend in the road.
When unexpected and sudden change occurs we all become like our ancestors of yore. Our minds shut off anything but the obstacle in front of us and we have three ways of responding: fight, flight, or freeze.
At least, till the newest research on neuropsychology stepped in to show us we can move from the lower parts of the brain, there for our survival, to find new ways of responding to change and its bed partner, stress.
First, understand that we are hardwired to stay around. If we all fled at the first sign of tough times and hid under the covers or fought the dragon straight on most of us would have soon perished. Our species is programmed to survive. The newest research shows that we can go beyond that to learn how to thrive, even in hard times.
One place to start is to quiet the lower part of the brain, the Amygdala where the automatic responses live. You do this by saying to yourself STOP! Yes, that’s the right word. STOP! Then you take the deepest, longest breathes you can take to give that brain of yours more oxygen.
Now SIT DOWN. That’s it; if you are sitting down stay there. And focus on your breathing for at least a minute or two. Don’t fight against what has just happened, don’t spend time analyzing it, don’t whine (there will be time to get mad and sad later).
Now, last step in this part of learning how to stay in the safe stress zone: talk to yourself. KEEP BREATHING DEEPLY and ask yourself what the next step should be. That’s it, just one step. You are learning to go with the change rather than fight against it. The best possible next step will become clear and your task to take that small next step; the one after that will show up and the one after that.
You can become the master of your stress rather than having it lead you into dark corners or dead-end paths. Remember STOP and BREATHE. Tune in tomorrow and learn about the 13 patterns that can keep you hostage to unnecessary stress.
Take the pattern aware quiz at www.sylvialafair.com to be at the head of the next class.