Getting All the Way Through the Stress Cycle

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Now we’re a year into the COVID-19 pandemic, and the stress hasn’t really let up, has it?

I was blessed by a friend sending me a link to a Brene Brown podcast of an interview with the authors of Burnout: The Secret of Unlocking the Stress Cycle, Emily and Amelia Nagoski.

It was so helpful to me I want to pass it along. Here’s the link to the podcast.

You will learn how stress lives in your body, and that there is a stress cycle that, if you don’t pass all the way through, will get stuck and cause problems.

The good news, as the authors stress in the interview and the book, is that you can get the stress out of your body, even when you can’t control the stressors in your life.

I found that tremendously comforting.

The first step is always to let yourself feel the emotions—all the way through.

Then, you need to get the stress out of your body.

Of course, The Healing Codes are a great way to get all the way through the stress cycle and change the negative energy. But you may also need to augment with more physical methods. Some of what the authors suggest, with a few additions from me:

  • Exercise. This is one of the best ways to release stress. My favorites are my daily walk outside (nature is one of the best regulators of our nervous system), and dance breaks. Just 3-5 minutes of dancing in the middle of my day really seems to revive me.

  • Slow, deep breathing. I suggest different breathing techniques here.

  • Connecting with someone. Human interaction is super helpful. Call a friend, talk things through with your partner. Or—my favorite—try the “20-second hug” where you really allow each other to hold your own center of gravity and stay there, breathing together until you feel the shift in energy. Or “the 6-second kiss.” My husband and I end the day with this at least, and it does make a difference!

  • Write/draw/paint etc. it out. Express your feelings by getting them down somehow. I write three pages of longhand every morning, and have for at least the past 25 years, and it’s been a lifesaver. but it will change your energy. Try not to judge yourself for crying, just allow the physical expression to run it’s full course. You may not have done this in a good long while, but try it! And validate your feeling and give yourself compassion while you’re crying. “Of course you feel like crying about this. Anyone would.”

  • Get present. The 5-4-3-2-1 technique I outlined here is also a great way to tell your “survival brain” that it’s safe and it can switch your nervous system into the “rest and digest”mode.

  • Gratitude and joy. Recently, I woke up feeling like I’d ruminated all night about a particular issue. I prayed, “Lord, I don’t know how to stop thinking about this! Help me.” Immediately the words came to me: “Thank me.” I started thanking God for every good thing I could think of about my life, and in less than 5 minutes I was turned around and my mind stayed off the problem for most of the day. I also make it a point to end every day listing things I’m grateful for and things that went really well. I also keep a “joy journal” and look at it when I’m feeling bad. Anything to drain the stress bucket and add joy!
  • Belly laughter. Load up on your favorite jokes; seek them out; watch comedies etc. that make you laugh. A friend sent me a text the other day that made me laugh harder than I have in a long time. I keep it on my phone to turn to whenever I need that kind of release—which, these days, is often!

While we can’t always (read: usually) eliminate the causes of our stress, we can work on getting the stress out of our bodies. That’s good news!

One of the biggest causes of internal stress is, of course, “heart issues.” And working with a practitioner like myself who can help you identify and heal those causes of distress can go a long way toward releasing the stress that causes so many problems—physical, emotional, relational, and in your career. Check out my coaching packages at HealingCodesCoaching.com.

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