Friday, March 30, 2012

Undressing My Stress - An Ongoing Practice

Image courtesy of Robert Horvath.
If you're wondering whether I practise what I preach, the answer is a resounding "Yes!"

You can read about how and why on a guest post I wrote for Gloveman Supplies, Ltd. in the U.K. To see the article, please click: Health: What's Your Game Like . . . .

Friday, March 23, 2012

There You Are

Wherever you go – there you are. 

Emotionally, mentally and physically. It's all connected. Your body isn't typically dammed. 

Your body is a system. What goes on “upstairs” affects “downstairs” and “indoors” and “outdoors.”

Undress your stress and make the most of this system.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Walkin' the Line

Image courtesy of MattHains.
Given last week's post, you might think that this is about a Johnny Cash song. It's not, so don't rush away.

Recently, I spotted a tweet on Twitter that had something to do with tuning in to your inner world. It's been my experience, and that of the people with whom I work, that there is a fine line between being in your head too much and not being there enough.

Fact: In order to transform your stress, it is important to be aware of how and when you are thinking those stress-filled thoughts.

"Which thoughts?" you ask.

Endless, looping thoughts like the ones the "What ifs . . .?", or the "I can't get anything right's . . ." Perhaps, the "Poor me's . . ." or the "I'm so p***** off at the world!" thoughts are the ones you recycle more frequently.

Some people are exceptionally skilled at turning inwards and always focusing on one's negative issues. The sad thing is that the more focus is paid to them, the faster they grow, resembling those plants in the Little Shop of Horrors. The focus is on what's wrong rather than on getting involved in doing the things one enjoys doing - even if for only five minutes at a time.

When you go through a stress coaching program, you become aware of how much time you spend soaking in negative thoughts and emotions. You may be surprised. I certainly was. You also learn about what stress is, and more importantly, what to do instead. This is crucial because knowledge-gathering isn't a problem in today's highly connected world. It's going the next step and the one after that - it's the what to do and the practise of doing it.

Some of my clients are at the other end of the line. They are heavily engrossed in volunteer work, consumed by family commitments or are valiantly trying to stay afloat in their careers. They rarely, if ever, give a thought to their own well-being - until it begins to break down. These are the people who would benefit from spending more time looking inwards. Ensuring that in addition to doing for others, they also do for themselves. Carving out time to make sure they honour their heartspeak. Not only is it restorative; it also helps them to re-balance their nervous system, which will allow them to go on serving others, for longer and for better.

Two extremes, with points in between. Have you noticed that the route to get there is the same?

I recently watched The Way. One of the lines was, "You don't choose a life. You live a life." Why not choose to live a life and start doing some of the things that bring you joy?

"But nothing brings me joy." That's where coaching can help. You learn to balance the nervous system. By quietening down that head-talk (I can't. I don't know . . . .) and allow the heart, which sends signals to the brain, to speak for you.

How are you walkin' the line? Are you balanced in the middle or do you end up tipping way over to one side, like I did - until I practise differently? (Present tense intended - it is an on-going process.)

Friday, March 9, 2012

A Country and Western Song

Image courtesy of Jean Scheijen.
You know the joke - if your wife (or husband) left you, the truck won't (don't :) ) start, the beer glass is empty and the dog ran away, you have the makings of a good country and western song.

You also have a recipe for stress, unless you have techniques that allow you to move through the sad songs of life.

From time-to-time, everyone has set-backs, things that go wrong, problems which aren't easy to resolve and disharmonious relationships.

Some people are able to quickly bounce back from these set-backs, while others get stuck, like a stylus in the scratch in a record - replaying the same refrain, spinning round, but not making any pleasant sounds. Until . . .

. . . they learn and do things differently.

Soaking in negative thoughts and emotions leads to more negative thoughts and emotions. Just like you have to get up and lift the stylus out of the scratch, you need to do something to move out of those feelings that drain, depress or enrage you.

Here are some suggestions:
  1. Get up and do something physical.
  2. Pull out your photo album and reminisce. 
  3. Scan some of those old photos and send them to the people who are the subjects in those pictures. (I recently did this. What a laugh we had!)
  4. Change how you're breathing.
  5. Go do something you love, if even for a few minutes.
  6. Get out of your head and into your heart. This is where you begin to transform your stress and feel better - emotionally, mentally and physically.
When you recognize how much time you spend worrying, breath-holding or fuming, and then know what to do to help you balance your nervous system, you realize that you can increase your resilience and enhance your performance. 

Now, that's a record worth replaying, wouldn't you agree?

Friday, March 2, 2012

A Dirty Business

Glenn Pebley
Irritable Bowels.

Diarrhea, constipation, cramping and bloating may be as regularly a part of your day as the stress you experience. Did you know that stress impacts your process of elimination?

There is a relationship between your gut and stress. Nerves feed from your heart directly into your intestines. They also feed from your heart to your brain. Think of it as a communication highway that regulates which chemicals are secreted and how much.

The brain in your gut, otherwise known as the enteric nervous system, sends and receives impulses, records experiences and responds to emotions. How often have you had a gut reaction, got butterflies or felt like you were kicked in the guts? The language you use is reflective of how you feel and how you feel impacts how you feel. (No, this is not a typo - the way you think and feel affects how you think and feel. If you soak in negative emotions such as frustration, sadness or worry, your body assumes there's a threat and prepares by eliciting the stress response.)

If you are constantly plagued with loose bowels or are constipated or fluctuate between the two,  amongst other health concerns, consider learning stress techniques to help regulate your system.

Be your own lab rat. Learn and practise some stress techniques that help you change your perception, while balancing your nervous system. Treat the cause of your stress and not just the symptoms. Then, see what happens, or doesn't happen.