Let's be real... 2020 has been FULL of stress. There is no way around it right now. There are very real, continuous stressors, and they seem to keep popping up around every corner.
We can't snap our fingers and instantly make all of our stressors dissipate. But, we can learn how to give our bodies and minds breaks from stress so we don't get burnt out.
What is stress anyway? Stress is a biological response to a threat or challenge. When there is a stressor present our bodies have a hormonal response that makes us go into "fight" or "flight" and activates the sympathetic nervous system.
For example, if a cheetah popped out behind a tree, your body would signal an alarm that would make you either put your fists up and get ready to duel or... RUNNNN!!!!
This is a brilliant, healthy response that our body has to stress. It gives us the energy and awareness we need to move through the stressor present. Once you have won your battle with the cheetah or successfully escaped, your body should stop having a stress response.
However, if the stressor is constant (ie COVID-19), our body continues to have a stress response it can wear down our body and mind over time.
The key isn't about eliminating stress, because that is not possible, especially in 2020. It is about learning how to give your body and mind breaks from stress, even when the stressor doesn't necessarily go away.
So how do you give your body and mind a break from stress? It can start by taking a deep breath.
Pro tip: Diaphragmatic breath (or big belly breathing) is a simple one you can access anytime, anywhere!
When we exhale, we activate our parasympathetic nervous system, counter-balancing our body’s stress response. This communicates to our body and mind that it is okay, we can relax. This is a powerful tool that we always hold that can support our bodies and minds even in the midst of tremendous challenges.
Mindfulness is a trait of awareness that we carry with us by paying attention, without judgement, in the present moment. Notice when stress is present. Observe where you feel it in the body and in the mind, without judgement
Stress is present and that is okay. Notice it, accept it. and empower yourself with tools to move through it.
Choose how you need to move through this to balance your body’s response to stress. Does your body need rest, movement, stillness? There are many different ways to manage stress and each day we need something different. Take some time today to honor it’s needs. For more ways and guidance on how to balance your stress response, sign up for our Yoga and Mindfulness for Stress Relief course!
Learning how to deal with stress is a constant practice. By practicing these 3 steps you can help reframe your relationship with stress and find moments of relief to help balance your body's response. Remember, stress isn't such a bad thing. It's just important to give your body and mind breaks-- and we are here for you every breath of the way!