Who's stressed at the moment?  Are you constantly on edge or worried or are you like me and go from, “Don't worry, everything will be fine.” To “Oh my, its the end of the world!”  Seriously, it's so tiring, I'm exhausted.

Well today, Katrina from Venturesgreen shares her thoughts on stress.  Thank you so much Katrina!

Would you like to help other women and girls by sharing your words of wisdom? please get in contact and let's collaborate.

Please stay well all my lovely friends and remember #togetherwerise

Love Sophia

How to manage stress

Everyone has experienced a heightened level of stress over the past few weeks. From a sense of panic where we can’t think straight; a feeling of spiraling into despair; an onslaught of previous anxieties re-appearing; to a lack of sleep; eating too much or too little; or being on a short fuse.

We all know why – I don’t need to mention the ‘C-word’. But here I explain truly why – i.e. why you are feeling the way you do; so that you can understand what you can do about it.

Our stress response is an evolutionary design trump card. Stress in a small dose helps us to get up in the morning, perform at our best in an exam; and in the case of acute stress – it prompts us to effectively react against a threat to our existence.

Because of the evolutionary element of our stress response it helps to start with the threats we were responding to all those thousands of years ago. If we had seen something moving in the grass – something that looked different from the surrounding grass that could be a lion – instantly our stress response would kick in: with our fight or flight response.

A lion is a threat to our existence; and so is what we are facing today. Our bodies are triggering the same response – but to very different actual threats.

The heightened levels of stress hormones (cortisol, adrenaline and noradrenaline) are chemical signals issued and used by the body to direct what we do next to respond to the threat. Of course, there is an obvious difference between a cave lion and our present situation. It is impossible to physically fight or run from the current threat in the same way.

But herein lies the insight to manage your stress.

To reduce the sense of the stress reaction we need to let it complete itself – as if we were running from the cave lion. There are two main phases to this reaction, which we can focus on, to help ourselves today:

1) An immense motion response (running away or participating in the fight) and then
2) We would recover from that incident

Doing something movement based is a good thing to do – any form of movement will work – but to get added value – do something that you love to do. Currently we can’t go to the gym or yoga studio – and if either of these are your ‘thing’ there are hundreds of YouTube workouts and flows to follow. If you can get outside (garden) or for your one walk around the block, this too gives added value as natural sun light and nature actively reduce the stress effects in our bodies and minds; and helps maintain a balance and natural rhythm (essential for overall functioning).

And, let’s not neglect the recovery from that super sprint, fueled by cortisol and adrenaline. We would have been pumped and thereafter ecstatic we were still alive! It’s helpful to remember this as a vital element and not just a side effect. Our bodies are designed to work through this phase of our stress response.

A good hug with our loved ones; a laugh; story-time around the campfire; games; sleep (oh so vital for our recovery from stress); are all what our bodies need to re-balance (basically shifting the balance to our ‘love’ hormones instead of ‘stress’) and re-connecting with those around us.

Other ways to look after ourselves is to eat well (a topic for another day perhaps) and do something for you – something expressive; something you can immerse yourself in: a hobby you haven’t done for years? Even something as simple as singing, colouring, reading or putting your headphones in and listening to your favourite music. The secret is to immerse yourself – not just have it on in the background. This is centred on the need to trigger the reward signals in your brain – something you definitely would have experienced after your triumph against that lion! As well as quietening the potential bad news running on a continuous loop in our minds.

We are programmed to focus on the negatives – again as a way of keeping us alive and away from threats. But our threats today are in a different form and therefore understanding what is happening and why; gives you an opportunity to take control.

Excluding acute threats such as what we currently facing – there is a general increase in the sense of stress we all feel. Uncertainty, ambiguity and lack of control are the three prime causes to trigger our stress response in today’s modern world. Thereby anything you can do to gain a sense of control, focus on the knowns and reduce the fog of confusion will also give you one-up against the sensation and impacts of stress.

Here’s to you gaining a sense of control; immersing yourself in something you love and feeling empowered!

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