Advance Blog

April 9, 2020
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The Number 1 Solution On How To Deal With Stress

We are living in crazy uncertain times. Our ‘normal lives’ are shaken to the core; businesses closing, kids at home, trying to keep your job or working long hours to keep people alive. Crashing stocks and people dying.

The luxury we lived in with abundance of products, freedom and health, we took for granted. We didn’t see how lost we were in business and not having time for the most basic thinks. Problems that we thought were so important do not matter anymore. We’ve been so busy doing that we forgot to be.

We are human beings, not human doers.

This sudden shift in lifestyle brings tremendous amount of uncertainty, stress and feelings of anxiety. But how do you deal with it?

First we have to understand what stress is before taking the proper action.

What is stress?

Stress is a fear of the future, while depression is a fear of the past.  When we experience stressful or dangerous situations, our sympathetic nervous system is activated, preparing us for a fight-or-flight response. A flash flood of hormones boosts the body’s alertness and heart rate, sending extra blood to the muscles. Breathing quickens, delivering fresh oxygen to the brain, and an infusion of glucose is shot into the bloodstream for a quick energy boost. 

The sympathetic nervous system doesn’t de-stress the body once the stressful situation or the danger has passed. Another component, the parasympathetic nervous system, works to calm the body down. To counter the fight-or-flight response, this system encourages the body to “rest and digest.” Blood pressure, breathing rate and hormone flow return to normal levels as the body settles into homeostasis.

In healthy individuals, the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems work together to maintain a baseline. However, in our current lifestyle, we don’t de-stress our body anymore. We are looking at our phones, watching TV, working long hours and little sleep. This results in a sympathetic dysfunction that creates mental health conditions such as anxiety, depression and chronic stress. It maintains a mental feeling of constant stress and the extra epinephrine and cortisol damage blood vessels, increase blood pressure and promote a build-up of fat.

The result: an overactive sympathetic nervous system, and your body starts giving physical symptoms, e.g. headaches, blurred vision, insomnia, breathlessness, palpitations, inability to relax, poor digestion, to name a few.

The Number 1 Solution?

BREATH. Our breath is the most important thing in our lives, without it we’ll die in a matter of minutes. But most of us don’t breath properly anymore; shallow breaths instead of deep belly breathing. The amazing thing is that when you start connecting to your breath it will immediately give a sense of peace.  You connect to your truly natural state of being which is gentle and harmonious. 

In the morning, when you wake up, take a few deep breaths and check in with yourself: how do I feel? What can I do today to make me feel peaceful? Create awareness around your feelings and sensations in the body.

During the day keep checking in. How do I feel? When you begin to lose your peace, when the hardness comes in to get things done, rushing, and feelings of anger or anxiety rise; bring yourself back by focusing on the breath.  Create several moments during the day to bring awareness into your feelings and the state you’re in. Especially when waking up and before going to bed.

Give yourself permission to take time to breathe, to check in with how you want to live your life, what you can give yourself and others. Learn how to love and reflect and become present. Activate the parasympathetic nervous system and bring your body in homeostasis.

Life is not about what happens next, it’s about what can you create. Now.

Caroline van der Weerd, Owner/Founder , Ignition retreats