I’m continuing to share some of my go-to routines.
This week: stress >> the routines I’ve found that best help me keep my nervous system regulated, manage stress – read: respond to it vs react to it, and help my body feel safe.
First, I’d like to point out that routine in and of itself will help anyone manage stress better than lack of routine, consistency or chaos.
Second, the goal of stress management or nervous system regulation is not to make stress go away or to never get into a fight or flight state. If we’re going to LIVE in this world, that’s impossible. The goal, instead, is to be able to respond to stressors vs reacting to them and help our body feel as safe as possible as we move through them.
There are two kinds of stress: acute and chronic.
some examples of acute stress:
30-60 minute workout
a short-term work deadline
one poor night of sleep
a minimal argument with a partner // family member // friend
some examples of chronic stress:
family illness (you’re the caretaker)
ongoing financial stress
a job you hate
a commute you hate but have to do daily
ongoing relationship issues
…you get the idea.
Acute stressors are short bursts of stress that your body can manage easily and actually sometimes really serve the body via the neurotransmitters (dopamine, serotonin, adrenaline) that get produced during the acute stressors.
However, you can see from my examples and the word itself – chronic stress is anything that creates ongoing stress on the body. THIS is the stress that’s talked about when you hear: “99% of all illness stems from stress”.
That being said, regardless of acute or chronic – it still puts “load” on the body and by responding to the stress (vs reacting to it) we can help bring the body back into a regulated state and therefore think more clearly through the stress, manage it more efficiently and recover faster off of it.
Funny enough – as I sit down to write this I am feeling a lot of stress.
I had a call run 20 minutes over and have a list of things to get done before my next appointment in 45 minutes. Yikes!
This is another example of acute stress. Harmful to my body? No – if I respond well to it vs reacting to it and “spinning out”.
So what I do to respond to it and create calm for myself? Pause and breathe. Deeply.
In through my nose, fill up my belly, hold it for a moment, exhale it out.
I get that pausing when in a rush sounds like it would only add more stress.
But BELIEVE me – the pause to breathe helps me think more clearly // level-headed and work more efficiently (*hint: it would work this way for you too).
The other consistent practice I have in place:
I intentionally move more slowly, as often as possible. Some think they thrive on chaos and being in a rush, etc. – I always thought I did – it’s taken me quite a while and a lot of observing to realize how being rushed, back to back appointments, etc. can really set my nervous system back.
the observations I’ve made since intentionally slowing down:
digestion is better // more consistent
I think more clearly – less brain fog
I’m happier // more joyful
it all still gets done (truly)
my mental chatter is kinder
I’m better at what I do // able to help people better
I don’t do it all perfectly every day. But I notice SUCH a difference when I am intentional about my breathing and slowing down.
Lastly – while both of the above “routines” will help with acute and chronic stress – we know that when stressed (particularly chronically) the body runs through certain vitamins and minerals – namely electrolytes – especially magnesium, vitamin D and B vitamins.
These are all supplements I add in larger amounts to my routine when I go through a period of chronic stress.
I use the following:
Nuun tablets for Electrolyte
>>I take any time of day
Xymogen Optimag Neuro for Magnesium
>>I take before bed as helps with sleep
>>I take any time of day, with food
>>I take in morning, with food as gives me some energy (aka I don’t take later in the day so it doesn’t disrupt sleep)
*check with your doctor before starting any new supplements
I’ve found that when in high-stress and/or overwhelm we tend to feel out of control. when in fact we have absolute control over how we take on that stress and move through it.
I hope my above suggestions make you think on how you can respond to stress in your life and move away from reacting to it and toward responding to it.
I believe firmly that the root of true health is a regulated nervous system and this ^^ is how we start.
As always, I am here for questions!