Inner Critic,  Self care

Stress Management Surprise

Why is stress management such a problem for people? I don’t know about you, but I’ve put in some time searching for a magic bullet. I’ve looked for that “once and done” thing I’m going to learn or think or do that will make me stress-proof.

[Tweet “Looking for the “once and done” thing to make you stress-proof?”]

If you’ve done that, please join me in a little visualization. Imagine all the books, articles, authors, teachers, trainers and friends you’ve met in the quest to master stress. I find it helpful to picture them wearing party hats, snapping on the lights and jumping out from behind furniture as in a classic surprise party scene in a movie.

“SURPRISE!!!!”

There isn’t one. Like it or not, we cannot simply put stress management on a list so we can check it off and move on. The good news? We don’t seem to object to repeated tooth brushing or hand washing. We know these things are necessary, and their effectiveness has a fairly short shelf life. Hygiene is important when it comes to staying healthy. Guess what? That’s true of our minds and our emotions, as well. And, it’s not because we are particularly weak in those areas.

[Tweet “We don’t seem to object to repeated tooth brushing or hand washing.”]

It’s the equipment: when we don’t understand we’re not able to use it to maximum efficiency. Earlier versions of the human brain were built to respond to immediate, life-threatening situations — the kind that resolve in no time flat. You know: run fast or become lunch. The time from noticing stress and resolution (safe or dead) was brief. And finite.

Modern stress is different and a great deal of it is not life-threatening. That’s both good and bad news: our lives are not in danger, but the stress mounts, without resolution. Imagine what that does to the more primitive part of your brain? (When it comes to danger, that’s your personal “first responder.”)

[Tweet “Imagine what that does to the more primitive part of your brain?”]

Modern stress is very different than the kind the original equipment was built to handle. Knowing that allows us to take control and make different choices about the manner in which we interpret and respond to the data our primitive brain is trying to share.

We can make a choice to use the data from the primitive part of the brain as something helpful, or allow it to run around unsupervised until it becomes part of a full-blown “freak out.” Hmm…. taking breaths to stretch or take breaths suddenly doesn’t seem like such a big deal, does it?

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8 Comments

  • Donna, Walks In Spirit

    That primitive brain is loud. That’s why nature, prayer, meditation, family time, and exercise help me connect with my more modern brain. Not that I don’t still have the occasional freakout, but it’s less frequently. 🙂

    • Andrea

      Funny thing about that primitive brain? Appreciating it helps with the volume control! Thanks for taking the time to comment.

  • Josee

    I love how you make reference as to how our minds and emotions are a part of hygiene and staying healthy. These seem to be overlooked and dismissed rather quickly yet play a big role in managing stress on a daily basis. Taking time to nurture all aspect of the being, mind body and soul, are key factors when it comes to reducing stress.

  • Sue Kearney (@MagnoliasWest)

    You made me laugh out loud Andrea! This: “We don’t seem to object to repeated tooth brushing or hand washing.” I’m gonna just go ahead and use that with my clients who whine about how hard it is to change the way they roll.

    Thank you!

    xoxox
    Sue

    • Andrea

      I’m glad I made you laugh — AND that there’s something useful to your clients. A “win” in my book, for sure.

  • Jill

    This sentence really resonated with me: “Modern stress is very different than the kind the original equipment was built to handle.”

    So true! It definitely adds perspective to how to best manage stress in our “day.” Great blog post, Andrea!

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