Have you experienced a “pregnant pause moment” lately? You know, when you’re talking with someone who makes a comment about the state of our country that you might not agree with, and you’re at a loss for how to respond.
Or, if not the pregnant pause, maybe you’ve felt like a stranger in a strange land, looking around the room and wondering how welcome you’d be if they saw your voting ballot.
Regardless of where we stand on the issues, this political climate is triggering a chronic state of stress in all of us. And chronic stress sets us up for physical, emotional and cognitive problems.
It’s not likely that our polarized political climate will relax any time soon, but you can. Stress is an inside job and that means you can choose how you react, regardless of the circumstances around you. When you feel threatened, your sympathetic nervous system secretes chemicals that tell the body to prepare for attack. Your blood vessels constrict, your heart races, your lungs expand and digestion slows. Your muscles tense and your senses become hyper-alert to everything around you.
The problem is that acute stress becomes chronic stress when daily pressure is high and the sympathetic response doesn’t turn off. Chronic stress leads to exhaustion, anxiety, worry, and the inability to focus, and even physical symptoms like headaches, stomach aches, pain and insomnia.
The good news is that rather than spin into overwhelm, you can unravel chronic stress from the inside and come back to a place of calm.
Use these 4 simple steps to break free from stress, anytime and anywhere.
1. Check in on what you’re feeling. Rather than getting lost in your immediate reaction, stop and look inside. Feel the knot in your gut or the tension in your shoulders. Avoiding discomfort strengthens it. This step short-circuits your fight-or-flight response.
2. Take a deep breath. Stress triggers shallow breathing. When the world is closing in on you, take a breath and create space. A spacious feeling is crucial to stress relief.
3. Have compassion for yourself. Imagine a child you love and give yourself the same comfort you’d offer if they were suffering. This step is not about being right; it’s about releasing negative judgment. This is an important missing step in reducing chronic stress.
4. Assess the immediate threat. Stress can trigger a current reaction to a future or past event. Ask yourself, “Is there an immediate threat to my well-being?” Knowing you are safe and sound at this moment will calm you and allow you to think more rationally.
In this time of change, it’s important that we all remain open-hearted and interested in all sides of the story. If we approach others with respect and curiosity, we will receive the same in return. Try these 4 simple steps to help you unhook when chronic stress patterns get triggered.
Laya Raznick is a certified holistic health coach guiding experienced women to release limiting stress patterns so they can relax and live with more inspiration, joy, and ease. Laya can be reached at (760) 512.3399. For more information visit www.layaraznick.com.