Inspirational Articles

No more Stress, Please (Part 2)

Stress and the Modern Human

No more Stress, Please (Part 2)

A message from Gord Riddell - June 2017

Have you noticed that as we slide into summer how much calmer and more relaxed people appear to be? In fact, most people are downright friendly. I think the shedding of all those layers of clothes we wear in winter is liberating. Plus, how difficult it is to carry that much weight in many layers, hunching over from the cold, still shivering and we are supposed to be smiling? My experience is most people, outside in winter scurrying from place to place, usually alternate between a grimace and a scowl. There are numerous studies that show we can reduce our stress and increase our energy level by forcing a smile. The proverbial ‘Fake it till you make it” has been proven to work. By forcing a smile, our brain reads our expression and draws the conclusion we are in a good mood today and alters our brain chemistry to support our good mood. It is not just our brain which determines our moods and expressions but we can alter our brain by forcing a smile onto our face.

The importance of knowing how we can impact our brain by our postures and expressions even if it is fake, puts us in a much stronger position to take a proactive role in de-stressing situations or our life in general. There will always be stressful events or periods of stress in our lives, however we are not intended to live in constant stress or more appropriately- distress. With a little self-awareness and focus we can empower ourselves to make changes and not be victimized by our own bodies and thoughts.

A De-Stress Plan

  1. Identify the probable sources of your stress.
    Is there anything you can do to change the situation?
    Is there anything you can do to reduce the impact of the situation?
    Even if you cannot immediately do something, develop a plan that will move you towards releasing yourself from stress. Having a plan helps to feel like you are doing something about it.
    A proactive focus will help you stop feeling powerless and give you a new direction.
  2. Focus on good things in your life that give you a sense of relief, fun, brings a smile to your face perhaps even joy. If you have said there is nothing, then you need to dig a bit deeper. We all have things that make us feel good, examples: walking in nature, being with our pets, socializing with people who do not drain us. |
    Having offsets or healthy escapes impacts by neutralizing the negative hormones that are released when we experience a lot of stress.
    While some may think the short-term relief that the use of alcohol, food and/or recreational drugs can bring, in the long run, they are not helpful and can lead to serious health problems. They are a band aid solution only providing a temporary diversion.
    When long term stress is taking its toll a more permanent solution is required.
  3. Self-Care - How are you taking care of yourself during stressful periods?
    We know that the more stressed we become the less likely we are to take care of our self. Here are the very basics.
    Are you Eating well and nutritiously? Avoid junk food, high sugar and too many carbs.
    Are you sleeping the right number of hours for you? Studies show we all need at least 7 hours.
    Exercise is very important and can be as simple as going for a walk around the block.
    Have a massage or some other sensual experience. Touch is critical for all humans as it releases endorphins into our bloodstream combining with epinephrine and nor-epinephrine they begin to lower the stress hormone Cortisol, the most damaging hormone we have and produced abundantly by stress.
  4. Talk about your stressors. Journal about it.
    Don’t bottle it up but don’t burden your friends, they have their own stresses.
    Stop ruminating, going over and over your stressors repeatedly, it keeps it too close to the surface causing more dismay.
    Work with someone who not only gives you some air time and helps you to process any feelings that have built up in your life; but can help you develop a plan to better negotiate and respond to your stressors.
  5. Take time to breathe, by that I mean deeply. It is our best natural stress reducer.
    The more stressed we are, the shallower our breathing becomes.
    You can breathe anywhere and at any time. At the office, in your car or on the subway you can take a deep breath.
    Our body responds to our Deep inhales and exhales by relaxing the abdominal muscles. Having been signaled that flight or fight will not be happening eminently.
    Our exhales are the most important as they remove a lot of stress and toxins from our bodies while activating our relaxation responses. 
  6. Spiritual tools include, again deep breathing with our eyes closed, meditation, prayer, contemplation, affirmations and visualizations. A simple one is close your eyes and imagine you are at your favourite place, real or imagined, and allow yourself, even 10 minutes, to enjoy the sense of serenity and peace.
    Shorter? - take a 60 second vacation. Literally for 60 seconds go to a favourite vacation spot, real or imagined and in your mind’s eye see, hear, smell and feel all the sensory experiences of your personal escape to place.

What we want to do is refocus our brain away from the stress cycle to one which calms us and gives us a sense of feeling refreshed and a bit more energized. The more regularly you do these things, the greater the results. To help reign in your stress, changes may need to be made, sometimes big changes. This may result in feeling even more stressed while you are attempting to make changes in your life. Remember all change is stressful even good change!

The most important thing to understand is that it is our perception, our interpretation of events, people and places that create the stress factors. If we believe that something is stressful then it will be. If it is going too smoothly we may have to expedite things our self and move things into our high stress workshop where we add more wood to the proverbial fire and watch our self become even more bogged down by our stress. Our thoughts are crucial to how we handle our stressors and the way we respond to it.

Most people react to their life events but that is what intensifies our experience and the amplified physical, mental and emotional stress symptoms. What we ultimately need is that our learned reactions must give way to responding to situations. Instead of immediately getting angry in a situation, stay calm, ask is anger even called for in this situation. Reacting is the fuel of the dramas we create as stressed out humans and it is the action of responding that will help to destress, dismantle and disassemble our need to react to events as they happen and allow us to respond in a less stressful way.

NEXT Month July 2017- How our unresolved stressors lead to depression and anxiety disorders. Stress and the Modern Human- Part 3

Please join us throughout the summer months as some of the Colleges’ excellent faculty members take turns presenting evening lectures and mini-workshops, each week through to mid-August. A great mid-week break on a summer evening.

At the end of this month are the annual Pride Celebrations and we Celebrate Canada’s 150th Birthday.

To the LGBT Community and all its staunch supporters – Happy Pride!!!!

To all of us who live and call this great country home – Happy Canada Day!!!

With heart felt gratitude for Canada and our rights and freedoms to live our lives as our Spirit guides us.

Be Well and Live Well

~ Gord Riddell

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