Words by Psychotherapist Jane Faulkner
Stress is such a common word in our day and time. Many clients come and see me and they feel totally overwhelmed with their life- stressed to the max. They feel like life is spiralling out of control and they have no time for looking after themselves.
When we start talking, however, many people start to see how self-perpetuating stress is. We feel stressed, we realise we feel stressed and then we feel even more stressed. The way we think about things can increase or decrease our stress levels and when we are in a stressed out state, it is very difficult to have any form of clarity. It is also very difficult to see a way out. When we are stressed our cells are drenched in adrenaline and cortisol – we are living in a state of fight, flight or freeze.
We’ve turned limbic!
Our limbic brain is the oldest part of our brain; it is responsible for our survival and is constantly on the lookout for any threats or danger. So when we are operating at this level all of the time not only is it very damaging to our cells and our bodies, it damages the quality of our life.
When we are in the limbic mode we are constantly looking for the negative so that we can avoid it and stay safe. Instead of being in the moment and noticing the blue of the sky, we are scanning our environment for danger, we are racing towards the future with all of our worries and concerns and shuttling back to the past with all of the bad memories that keep us stuck. It’s a miserable way to live. We miss so much life when we are operating at this level, as we are almost never present to the beauty and the peace around us.
So how do we change? 5 simple steps to stress less now…
- The first step is to realise that you are stressed, to become fully aware of how you are feeling and name it- “ I’m feeling out of control and like I’m going to lose it.” I don’t mean to tell everyone around you, you can just acknowledge it for yourself or let a close friend know.
- The second step is to create space for yourself, wherever you are, give yourself space even if it means you excuse yourself and go to the bathroom.
- Take 5 deep slow breaths – focus on the out breath, sighing is great as it releases tension.
- Sometimes your feelings might come up strongly here – keep breathing and if you can allow the feelings to come. Notice what message they have for you.
- Ground your awareness in the here and now. There are 2 ways to do this…
i) Feel your feet on the ground and inside your shoes, even wriggle your toes inside your shoes, then let your awareness travel up through your body and notice what is present- notice where you are tense, sore, numb etc. It’s important you just notice, don’t judge or ridicule what you find; just approach yourself with a gentle curiosity and loving kindness
ii) Notice the things that surround you in your direct environment- notice the floor beneath you, the chair you’re sitting on, the trees out the window. Notice if you can see things that are green in your surroundings.
These techniques are capable of re-wiring your Brain
These techniques are capable of re-wiring your brain; they are capable of building stronger connections to the part of the brain that is capable of higher order thinking and calm, clear decision-making. They train the brain to be in the present and to approach life with an open curiosity and a grateful heart.
Every day, each of us has the power to create the life we want. Each moment of our day we make a choice to be here in the present or to be in the past or the future. We empower ourselves when we remember that our life is solely our responsibility.
Jane Faulkner started her career as a Registered Nurse and has worked in hospitals in Australia and overseas. During her career as a nurse, she supported people through the difficult transitions of illness, grief, death, trauma, mental health issues and childbirth.
Jane has a Masters in Gestalt Psychotherapy, a Bachelor of Nursing, a Certificate in Initiatic Art Therapy and is certified in Equine Assisted Psychotherapist. Yoga is an integral part of her life, she is a Certified Iyengar Teacher and continues to study and teach in the Iyengar yoga tradition. She is an accomplished teacher, therapist, and facilitator and has led many women’s groups and Day Retreats, presented seminars and workshops, and worked with many different community groups and individuals.
Jane is the founder of Equine Assisted Therapy Australia, an organisation that provides training, retreats, programs and individual sessions that aim to provide individuals with a new and authentic ways to grow and learn more about themselves. Connect with Jane HERE.
A word from Georgia…I love this technique, it has helped me enormously when feeling overwhelmed, stressed or stuck. I know it seems almost too simple, too good to be true; but you have nothing to lose and everything to gain by trying it.
Next week, I share how a shift in mindset and an amazing ‘app,’ has enabled me to include exercise and meditation in my very busy life most days…and you can too! I can’t wait to share this…
To read about natural ways to treat adrenal stress, you can catch up here.
We’d love to hear your thoughts or if you have a question, please post it in the comments below.