Computers are not my friends. Computing is not one of my strengths but it also doesn’t stress me unduly, that is until two days ago. I can’t even begin to describe the mega-muddle I got myself in, but everything I tried became one more knot in the messy tangle culminating in me believing I’d deleted everything.
Did I learn anything about computers from my experience? Nope, but I was painfully reminded about stress; how suddenly it sucks you in, how sneakily it can take over and how thoroughly disabling it can be.
This week’s blog will help you understand a little of what causes panic to strike and give you a simple 3-step tool to quickly and efficiently put stress in its place.
You know what it’s like to panic and feel like hurling your laptop out of the window. Okay, maybe that’s just me, but you know what it feels like. So, how does a life coach get herself into such a panic pickle? The sneakiest aspect of stress is that you only notice its grip after your brain is already flooded with stress chemicals and your body has already begun reacting to them. Responses to these triggers are subconscious and ancient, highly tuned to save us from life-threatening dangers, such as laptop crashes.
I first learned this technique from a mental skills coach, Anthony Taylor, and made a Youtube video (below) to offer clients a ‘quick fix’ from stressful situations. It is simple, powerful and as simple as remembering ‘PPP’.
Fear is subconsciously triggered by senses reacting to ‘threat’ cues; real and current or not. Your brain won’t waste time on logic and analysis, it demands action and uses the stress-hormone, cortisol, to short circuit your rational neocortex and narrow your perspective: Freeze, flight or fight. These reactions are ancient, immediate and intended to save us from danger. Unfortunately, there are no ‘threat’ sub-divisions. Should a tiger chase you or a piano fall from directly above you, they would serve you well. A crashed laptop, however, could benefit from logical and rational thought.
What can you do: Change your perspective away from deathly-danger.
Ask yourself 3 simple questions:
This effectively brings your brain back from, “AAARRGHGHGH, I am going to die!” to, “False alarm, panic over! I’m fine. I have options. Shame about my laptop…”
Your sympathetic nervous system’s stress response effects every cell: Rapid breathing, increased heart rate, blood pressure peaks, sweating and tight muscles ready for action.
What can you do: Take control of your breath and nervous-energy.
The 4 square technique:
You don’t have to sit in the lotus position or close your eyes; you can do this anywhere. After just a couple of ‘squares’ you will already feel your body start to calm. Breathing with positive intention works even better: Breathe in energy, calm, relaxation, love, your core value; whatever works best for you. Breathe out the stress.
Your body is primed for explosive action. Tony Robbins deals with this by pacing and punching the air before going on stage. Discover what works for you, but getting a little out of breath is key, so take the stairs to important meetings or presentations and enjoy the feeling of endorphins and endocannabinoids taking the place of those pesky fear chemicals.
The logical mind is compromised into feeling out of control, stuck and powerless. Old, sabotaging, stories (also designed for your protection) play on a mind-loop.
What can you do: Change your problem perspective.
Then give yourself a break! Your body feels exhausted as if you’ve had a trauma; it cannot sense the difference, but you can so don’t push yourself. Take a moment, rest and be kind to yourself.
So what is stopping you? Try it out in calm moments to be prepared for times of stress. Observe what happens with zero judgement and a desire to learn. It takes practice so be patient with yourself and remember that even life coaches don’t notice the stress monster before it is too late sometimes. Even if the only part of this 3 step stress-buster that you initially come away with is the thought, “I notice I feel stressed, I’m sure there is something I can do…” you are already in a much stronger position the next time the stress monster strikes.
If you want to go even further, ask your coach about how to take control of your limiting beliefs, tame your sabotaging stories and connect your path to your core values.
Who do you know that is stressed or gets stressed? Be a good friend and forward this blog to them. Let’s distribute the de-stress and make a difference!”