This month I decided to observe stress because I’ve noticed it creeping into my life on an almost daily basis whenever I go down to our parking garage. AND, frankly, why not? Every deep, dark corner within me is coming to light these days - LOL - so why not stress, too?!
Our parking garage is being completely rebuilt - it’s supposedly a nine-month project, but it looks more like a year-long project to me. With the terrible sound of jackhammers ripping up the concrete, being down there is very stressful for me. I’ve been watching how my body reacts to the pounding noise - just the thought of it now causes my field to contract.
In the face of that noise, my body begins contracting and closing in, and my energy field becomes tight and small. This response makes sense, as the mind perceives a stressful noise like that as potentially dangerous. The body shoots the stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline into the bloodstream and adds prolactin, serotonin and even estrogen to the mix. What does that mean in simple, down-to-earth terms? Our hormone levels can get pretty whacked-out from stress!
Those stress hormones course through your body as a protective measure. That’s a very good thing when you’re facing immediate danger, like a hungry tiger, but it goes all wrong when the hormones are constantly called upon. A prolonged stress response can spell big trouble. Constant, chronic stress can ultimately lead to illness and premature aging, and a breakdown of the body.
In addition to my own stress response, I also notice extreme contraction in my clients’ brains when I work with them during particularly stressful times. One woman from Great Britain was so profoundly contracted that it took a solid half-hour to soften her brain enough that she could even imagine breath coming in and out through the center of it.
Another client responded to stress by contracting his energy field to a small point, only to then have it explode outward as a protective measure. It was as though the act of contraction enabled the outward expansion. Fascinating, actually. This caused me to start looking at stress from other angles.
I soon realized that stress can sometimes be our friend. It can help us gather the necessary vital force and energy to make a leap or take action anywhere we might be dragging our feet. Stress gathers the energy, the vital force, to birth and create. Think about a mother going through natural childbirth. She experiences extreme contractions and pain, AND those stressful contractions gather the necessary energetic force to bring life into the world.
The human brain (and those in mammals, animals, plants, and all life really) evolved to keep us alive under the stress of millions of adaptive changes. The flight, fight, freeze response in the reptilian brain also does its job well in us. Eons ago, we learned to either run from that hungry tiger, turn to fight it, or freeze so it thought we were dead. Nowadays, we rarely face that level of physical threat. Yet we all experience stress every single day of our lives. It’s part of the ebb and flow of life.
What would happen if we began to view that daily stress as a potential benefit, especially when we found ourselves in the middle of unavoidable situations? For starters, we could use the contractive force of our stress response to “escape" and/or use the extra energy to launch a project we would otherwise be afraid to set in motion.
It’s fun to contemplate such a mental reframing of stress! In fact, it feels inclusive and high-frequency to view stress this way, instead of having to always buy into the "bad, bad, horrible stress" attitude our culture currently holds. It’s certainly something to shoot for, but also something that will no doubt take a lot of conscious effort to achieve.
In the meantime, a word of caution. From what I understand about biochemistry, chronic stress triggers powerful aging factors in our body - the complete opposite of the highly sought-after anti-aging effect. So until we can totally reframe it, it’s good to find ways to deal with the daily stress in our lives.
Circling back to my own stress response - after watching my physical reactions to the jackhammer noise for about a week, I decided to become more proactive about how I handled that stress.
I began to pull together my own anti-stress toolkit, using techniques I’d developed, learned and gathered from research. THEN came the real test. Could I apply the techniques from my toolkit to real life, in the very moment I noticed my body moving into a stress response?
Yes, I could! My anti-stress toolkit worked! So I want to share it with you here. I hope this gets you started on your own anti-stress toolkit. Let me know how these techniques work for you, and how you customize yours!
Lisa’s Anti-Stress Toolkit
1. The first thing I do is assess the situation and the stress, to determine if I can use the stress for my benefit or if it is unnecessary.
2. If I can benefit from the stress, I actually focus on enhancing it! I purposely gather the energy like a laser beam in my heart and center of self-expression (navel area), then actively expand it outward as a protective force/shield around me.
3. If the stress is unnecessary and not beneficial to me, I begin to use a few simple and quick techniques that can work anywhere: