Stress Got the Best of You?
Stress includes any invasive influence on our well-being.
It can be a combination of all of these areas:
Brené Brown’s research has found that the language we use to describe how we are feeling defines how we experience that emotion. In her book, Atlas of the Heart, she defines emotions so we can understand what we are experiencing, and how best to navigate it in an effective and productive way.
I want to help clarify what the meaning of stress, overwhelm, and anxiety are according to Brené’s research.
In her book, Atlas of the Heart, Brené Brown describes being stressed as “when we evaluate environmental demand as beyond our ability to cope successfully. This includes elements of unpredictability, uncontrollability, and feeling overloaded.”
Stressful situations directly affect our physical body, in addition to our emotional and mental state.
The remedy for feeling stressed is to change your environment. The recommended action is to take a break and allow your physiology to recalibrate.
Jon-Kabat Zinn describes overwhelm as the all-too-common feeling “that our lives are somehow unfolding faster than the human nervous system and psyche are able to manage well.” Overwhelm is experiencing an extreme level of stress, which involves an emotional and/or cognitive intensity to the point of feeling unable to function. According to Brené Brown, research suggests that we don’t process other emotional information accurately when we feel overwhelmed, and this can result in poor decision making.
The remedy according to Jon-Kabat Zinn – Stop and do nothing. Give your mind and nervous system a break.
The American Psychological Association defines anxiety as “an emotion characterized by feelings of tension, worried thoughts, and physical changes like increased blood pressure.” Brené Brown’s experience of anxiety involves escalating out-of-control, worst-case scenario thinking, imagery and total uncertainty. We may be feeling afraid to let go because we don’t want to lose control, yet all this creates is more anxiety.
Brown states that an intolerance for uncertainty is an important contributing factor to all types of anxiety. We can experience anxiety in specific situations and have a trait anxiety as well as anxiety disorders.
The remedy suggested by Brené Brown – Therapy.
What is happening in your brain and nervous system when you are stressed?
Amygdala – Primitive Brain
Distrust and negativity reside in the amygdala part of the brain; this is known as primitive brain. This part is always scanning the environment for threats. It cannot tell the difference between a real or imagined threat. It activates the hormone Cortisol, which focuses on the threat, and Adrenaline, which prepares you for flight or fight. If the amygdala perceives a threat, it takes 6 hours to vacate your system. physiology.
Frontal Cortex – Executive Brain
This is the area in the brain where trust resides. Hormones that are secreted include Oxytocin, Dopamine, Endorphin, Serotonin and GABA. When these hormones exist, we have trusting relationships.
You want to deregulate the amygdala and upregulate the frontal cortex.
Here are simple hands-on techniques to support you in recalibrating the body and mind in the body:
- Breathing long and deep.
- Elongating your breath – breathing in 4 counts and out 8 counts.
- Moving or stretching your body.
- Putting cold water on your hands and neck.
- Placing your hands on your heart and thinking of a something in your life you are grateful for.
- Closing your eyes and visualizing an experience that you have had that felt good.
- Feeling your feet on the ground, feeling supported by your spine, noticing sensations in your body.
Implementing the above techniques stops the cycle of stress, overwhelm, or anxiety from getting the best of you. It allows you to shift your physiology from operating out of the amygdala to the executive brain, which calms the nervous system. Through consistent practice, you eventually create not only a new pathway in the frontal lobe of the brain, but also new patterns in the nervous system so that you are no longer a victim of stress when it appears.
Stress is a natural part of life, and the key is how we choose to respond to it. Being able to create awareness and practices that become part of your daily life are the keys to rewiring your brain and body so that balance and choice is always an option for you and those around you.