Dolphins swimming

Another tool for resolving stress in your life. Find some beautiful scenic photo’s or video’s like the one below. Start up a collection and use them everyday to calm and relax your body and mind.



So how do we reduce the stress in our life?

The first thing to remember is that you ALWAYS have a choice. Knowing this leads to empowerment. You always have a choice, and in fact you may have many choices. I’m not saying the choice is always easy, but you do have a choice.

Identify what things in your life is causing you stress. You might like to start out with the little things like. “I’m always so rushed in the morning that I’m already stressed before I get to work”. Then work your way up to Work, Home, Family, Relationships, Money.

Once you start identifying the stressors in your life you are then able to do something about them. Change the situation or change your response.

Let’s look at “I’m always rushed in the morning that I’m already stressed before I get to work.” Write down, off the top of your head some solutions, for example. Can I get up earlier? Is there anything I can do the night before that will free up some time in the morning, for example making lunch the night before. Is there anything I do in the morning that someone else in the family might be able to do? Give it a try, come up with your own solutions.

Learn to say no. What you’re boss, family, friends, partner asks you to do something and your schedule is already full. Let them know that you’re too busy to do it. Maybe you can come up with a solution to this. For example your boss wants you to stay back at work for an hour tonight. You may come up with a solution like, “I can’t tonight but I can stay back for 1/2 hr tomorrow and the next day.” If someone puts you on the spot say to them, ‘I’m busy at the moment, let me think about it and I’ll get back to you’ This gives you some time to come up with a solution.

Use a diary. Organizing your day, week, month in advance. Know what needs to be done urgently, do them first. Make a To Do list. (I’ve got To Do lists on top of to Do lists! I find them essential to knowing what I’m up to.) Keep a diary with all your To Do’s, your meetings, when your’e catching up with people, important dates etc.

There’s one particular Stress Reduction technique that I think is fantastic. Buy a journal. (This is aside from having a diary) In the back write about your day, you can vent as much as you like, whinge, swear, get it all out. THEN, and this is the important part. In the front write a list of all the positive things that happened to you today, no matter how small. A stranger smiled at you, write it down. Write down anything that made you laugh, giggle or bought a smile to your face. Write down any positive thoughts you had, or inspiration ideas, or nice things you thought about doing for yourself. In fact, it might be better to buy 2 journals, they can just be cheap notebooks from the newsagents, they don’t have to be anything expensive as long as you use them. You could use one for the venting, (which you’ll probably want to throw away when it’s full) and one for the Postive, funny, happy things in your life. Even if it’s a TV ad that made you smile or you heard something funny on the news or on TV, write it down. You will want to refer to this journal all the time. Reminding yourself of the good, positive, fun things in your life.

Take a notebook with you everywhere. Buy something that will fit in your handbag, or pocket. Some people use their diaries to do this. Use this to write down any notes, anything you want to remember. You can schedule it into your diary later.

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When we’re under stress the blood flow to the brain is redirected away from the cortex where our logical thought processes & emotional response areas are located to the Reptilian brain.
The reptilian brain is our survival centre. This is where the fight or flight response comes from.
When we’re in a chronic state of stress, which most of us are these days we are operating from this part of the brain. Our brain tells our body to react as if we are under physical threat.
Cortisol and adrenaline are released into the blood stream. Our cognitive performance is impaired. We can’t remember things, we can’t concentrate or think logically. So we tend to over-react to situations. We’re more moody, irritable, angry, agitated. High blood pressure, increased heart rate and breathing. Unable to relax, insomnia and troubled sleep, leading to constant fatigue.
Cortisol and adrenaline lowers our immune system so we are more prone to colds & infections.
Because we’re in the fight or flight response our muscles tense to get ready for flight so we get more aches and pains in the body, headaches. Our digestive system doesn’t work properly, lack of sex drive.

Stage 1 – Alarm reaction

Commonly known as the Fight or flight response.

  • Adrenaline & cortisol is released. There is also activation of the HPA axis. The hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis. A direct set of influences and feedback among the hypothalamus, pituitary and the adrenal glands. These organs are a major part of the neuro-endocrine system that controls reactions to stress & regulates many body processes for example the immune system, digestion, energy storage & expenditure, sexuality, mood & emotions.
  • Overacting of the sympathetic nervous system
  • Blood flows away from the brain
  • Muscles tense
  • Heart & breathe rate increase
  • Constriction of blood vessels in many parts of the body
  • Eyes dilate, possible tunnel vision; (loss of peripheral vision)
  • Auditory exclusion (loss of hearing)
  • Shaking, sweating

This means we can fight or flee from life threatening situations such as being attacked. When we are under real threat this alarm reaction is needed to protect us.

The issues we are having in modern day living is that we are in a constant state of stress. We perceive situations as being life threatening so our bodies are reacting in the same way as if we were actually in a physical danger.  The alarm reaction and the bodies response is still the same.

Historically when a life threatening situation would occur we would either flee, expending the energy or fight, also expending the increased energy. Today, with our perceived life threatening situations and constant barage of stress with not enough time to relax. Our behavioral response to alarm reaction has changed from Fight – physical exertion, to anger, irritation, anxiety, argumentative behavior. Flight – watching tav, social withdrawal, substance abuse.

Stage 2 – Resistance/Adaptation

If the cause of the stage 1 stress is not removed, 2nd stage stress occurs, called resistance or adaptation.

The body attempts to cope with this stress. More hormones are released to sustain energy to cope with the stress. The adrenal cortex produces hormones called corticosteroids. These are involved in stress & immune response, regulation of inflammation, carbohydrate metabolism, protein catabolism, blood electrolyte levels & behavior.

If this continues the person will become fatigued, lethargic & irritable. This stage 2 stress is a heightened state of arousal, in a constant state of anxiety, pushing on through it. Not resting and recuperating. The bodies resources are depleted.

Stage 3 – Exhaustion

The body’s resources are depleted. It has run out of reserve energy. Physical, mental & emotional exhaustion occurs. Adrenal fatigue or adrenal exhaustion occurs. When long term stress occurs the hypothalamus continues to tell the adrenals to produce cortisol. This leads to fatigue and depression. Cortisol also interferes with serotonin levels.

Continually high levels of cortisol suppress the immune system. Research findings indicate that depression & stress negatively effect the immune system. Reduced immunity makes the body more susceptible to illness and disease.

In my practice and when teaching my Resolve Stress workshops, we know by muscle monitoring the level of stress the body is in. An overfacilitated muscle represents stage 2, resistance, as it is trying to ‘hold it all together’.

An underfacilitated muscle represents stage 3, exhaustion. The muscle just hasn’t got the strength. Our energy levels are that depleted.