It’s common knowledge that stress is rampant and that it is at least one component of almost every ill known to humankind. When we are “stressed out,” our relationships suffer; our performance at work is compromised; we’re more likely to have accidents; emotional states like overwhelm, anger, sadness, and anxiety can take over our lives; memory may falter alarmingly; our health is in jeopardy. Yet everywhere we look, there seem to be more stressors. The pace of modern life, juggling too many priorities, lack of sleep, financial woes, caring for children or aging parents (or both), the evening news - sometimes it may seem like each day is a treacherous walk through a minefield of stressful events and responsibilities. It just may be that mastering stress is the single most important coping skill that any of us could develop.
You can’t! The objective is actually not to get rid of stress but to master your reaction to it. That’s because, while you may be able to make certain lifestyle changes that reduce stress, it is unlikely that anyone can eliminate it completely. Even if you managed to create a lifestyle that involved daily cocktails on a tropical beach with little umbrellas in them, things would inevitably come up that caused those classic signs of stress: tensing of the muscles, more rapid and shallow breathing, elevated heart rate, a cascade of corrosive biochemical responses.
The good news, though, is that these stress responses need not be a problem. Because the real problem is not that we experience a stress response to certain occurrences in life. The body can easily recover from a short burst of stress responses as soon as we return to a relaxed baseline. The real problem comes when we lose the elasticity that allows us to return to that calm baseline and instead stay in a state of elevated stress a good deal of the time.
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Your Natural Ability to Balance Out Stress Responses
Stress is a completely natural part of life, and your neurology is perfectly equipped to handle it. One branch of your autonomic (think “automatic”) nervous system is wired to protect you in times of danger by activating your “fight or flight” response. Without it, our ancestors would never have survived the life-threatening conditions they faced all the time in the form of predators and other natural hazards. But once the danger passes, the counterbalancing “rest and digest” branch of the nervous system is supposed to kick in to re-establish calm function of body and mind. When there is nothing to run from or fight off, the body can tend to its basic maintenance tasks and the mind/emotions can recover from the alarms that were set off by the stressor.
Back when the dangers humans faced were tangible things like predators, this system worked pretty well. But our modern “dangers” are far more abstract and therefore tend not to have a discrete beginning and end. When does the “danger” of a hypercritical boss begin and end? When does the fight or flight response to a troubled relationship give you a break? When does the worry about paying the monthly bills resolve if you are still not earning enough money? The result of these ongoing stressors is that we stay in the hyper-aroused “something’s wrong/something is going to get me” state instead of returning to the baseline “I can rest now and my body can tend to digestion, repair, and maintenance” mode. Like a rubber band that has been stretched too far for too long, we lose our elasticity. That’s when stress becomes debilitating.
The Good News
The good news, though, is that we have more control over those two branches of the autonomic nervous system than most people realize. That all-important “rest and digest” branch is called your parasympathetic nervous system, and you can deliberately activate it with simple things like changing the focus of your eyes (really!), tapping certain acupressure points, regulating the rhythm of your breath, and alternating the nostrils you breathe through. You can also learn how to “take a vacation in your mind” and trigger all of the beneficial neurological and biochemical responses of an actual vacation. And the best thing is that, every time you re-enter the parasympathetic “rest and digest” state, you recover a bit more of the elasticity you had lost. You become more resilient. This is the key to mastering your stress, and I can teach you how to do this quite quickly and easily.
Why work with Lynn Sparrow Christy?
My training and personal experience bring together key stress-busting strategies from the fields of hypnosis, neuro-linguistics, energy work, and meditation practices. My avocation is natural health, and while I make no claim to be a health practitioner, I am well-versed in body-mind connections in matters of nutrition, sleep, and what it means to honor the body’s wisdom and do a better job of listening to it. When a client comes in with a truckload of stress, my first objective is to teach simple strategies to relieve stress instantly. Once you experience your own ability to change your state from stressed out to completely relaxed, you are well on your way to becoming more resilient. And when you are more resilient, you are much better able to sort out which lifestyle changes would lead to greater well-being, which of those are do-able, and which things you must learn to live with peaceably. My experience as a life coach allows me to help you with that process as well. Whether your need is a single stress management session or a short series to help you get your life back on track, I will work with you to recover your natural state of well-being.
Master Your Stress
Appointments are available at my Virginia Beach office or (in many cases) via telephone or Skype. Call me at 757-491-3900 or use the form below to request a free telephone consultation to discuss your goals and your options for working toward them. I will contact you just as soon as possible after receiving your request. Your phone number and anything we may discuss during your consultation will be held in strictest confidence and will never be used for any other purpose.
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