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The Stressful Movie

What is stress exactly?  Although it is a heavily used word today, most of us don’t have a grasp of what stress exactly is, nor how to manage it.  We all can agree, however, that when we feel stressed we are not happy, and we want the experience to be over as soon as possible but do we know what is happening inside of us, the dance between our mind and body, that is feeding the stress response?  Chances are the answer to that question is no, and so we feel we are victim to stress.

Stress on the Fishing Line of Life

I picture stress in the same way as I do the tension on a fishing line tethered between the pole and the hook.  Like us, the fishing line is built to handle a certain amount of strain, and if this is too great (because the ‘fish’ is too big), then it is subject to deterioration and breakage.  Not surprisingly, when a person is stressed they will use words such as tense, stretched, or strained, similar to how one would describe the fishing line.

Interactions between humans, particularly emotional interactions, are like the interplay between the fishing line and the fish in the above metaphor.   These human interactions affect both our biological and psychological functioning in overt as well as subtle ways.  Easily identifiable stressors in life (the big fish, so to speak) are things like divorce, job loss, death of a loved one, and illness.  Even chronic daily stress such as dealing with traffic congestion and facing excessive workload demands that can wear away at our wellbeing.  Understanding the relationship between our emotional and physiological environment is critical to our health.  Unfortunately, despite decades of groundbreaking work in the area of the mind/body connection, the chief medical approach to health and illness continues to suppose that the body and the mind are not connected.

Higher Perspective of Stress

When we relax and observe the experience of stress from a higher perspective, we get some interesting insights.  We can see that stress typically has three distinct and related components.  First, there is the stress event itself, which can be either a physical or an emotional moment.  The second element is the processing of the experience, the interpretation of the event, which gives it meaning and codifies it as stressful by the individual.  The third and last element is the response to the event, which involves various physiological and behavioral reactions.

The determination of a stressor (or stressful situation) depends predominately on the second component, the processing by the individual.  The processing is based on the beliefs held by the individual, generalizations about the world, and opinions of it. These beliefs form the rules about what we think we can and cannot do and what should and should not happen.

Further, the interpretation of the event is dependant on the personality and the psychological state of the individual.  For example, the experience of the loss of a job can create different reactions in different people.  A person for which the experience does not create financial hardship may still respond with high stress if their deep-seated beliefs about self-worth or acceptance are tied directly to their job title and status.  These less tangible feeders to stress are resonant from a person’s past, and even though the stress event is experienced in the present, it is the past that determines the response and its intensity.

Change The Movie

The area of study under neurolinguistics supports the realization that individuals’ past beliefs no longer need to be a legacy that carries forward unchallenged or unchanged.  These beliefs can be modified and even eliminated to support a person’s desire for a more peaceful, harmonious, and less stressful life.  Working with the power of language, mind mapping, the unconscious mind, rapid and healthy improvements to how life events are interpreted can be realized.   Life events may be out of our immediate and direct control however, the interpretation of these events is significantly within one’s control.

We are the moviemakers of our life.  We are giving our life direction straight from the Director’s chair every day.  The problem is that so many people are creating the same type of life “movie”; a fear-based, stress-filled movie.  I believe that type of “movie” has been oversold and overdone in today’s society. Why not change your movie into a more relaxed and enjoyable one and with scenes that give you pleasure and joy?  Your blockbuster is just waiting for you, the Director, to show up and take over.

If you are interested in how you can begin making your desired life movie today, go to my website and book your complimentary consultation today.  I look forward to chatting with you.

You Can Escape Christmas Stress

Christmas is a prime time for feeling like everything is spiraling out of control. There is so much to get done in a relatively short period of time. Patience seems to be in short supply and nerves become frazzled. Everyone has a story about how much they have yet to get done before Christmas Eve – shopping, wrapping, decorating, visiting family and friends, attending Christmas concerts and parties. Then there are those pesky year-end work targets that hang over the celebrations and damped the mood like Scrooge.

When the pressure in our lives begins to build, like it does at Christmas, our minds can start to spin, and it becomes hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel. But the light is there and sometimes, all you need to do is shift a little to see it.  So, how does one actually “shift”? By escaping.

Escaping the Stress

Escaping can be a very helpful tool that can be easily incorporated into almost any busy schedule. It involves purposefully pulling yourself away from negative, overwhelming thoughts and providing yourself with an opportunity to take a mental break.

Be aware however, that there are helpful and non-helpful forms of escaping. For example, taking a year-long trip to visit the Tibetan monasteries may not be a particularly cost conscious form of escaping. It may actually add more stress than the stress it is intended to lessen. Using drugs and alcohol when the going gets tough can be a tempting way to “forget your stresses”, however it carries health concerns with it and, for some, the dangers of addiction. The same applies to gambling. The point being that you need to find a positive way to escape that supports your lifestyle, values and goals.

So, if you are not about to jet off somewhere exotic, how can you practice escaping and still reap the physical and mental benefits of unplugging temporarily? Here are some ways to put into practice around the holiday season.

Watch a Feel-good Movie

I love to watch any movie that has a happy ending. It allows me to escape into a world of either fantasy or love-conquers-all. I forget, just for a few hours, about the housework, unanswered emails or the shopping that awaits me.

Go for a walk

I really love this one. I find that walking and allowing my mind to wander to be refreshing and calming. Upon return to my home or work, I am blessed with a new perspective. The issues that felt like hundred-pound weights only an hour before no longer carry the weight.

Meditation

Everyone knows the benefits of meditation when you are experiencing anxiousness, tension or are worried. Spending even a few minutes in meditation can restore your calm and inner peace.  And here is the cool thing – I have learnt to practice mediation wherever I am. I have incorporated it into my walks, when I am waiting in the doctor’s office or even while I am in my favourite coffee shop.

Comfort Food

Although this can easily become a negative escape tool, I just had to add it because I love it so much. When negative emotions arise, turning to delicious comfort food does provide me with a momentary boost. However, I do need to be aware of the negative health consequences if I practice too much.

Escapism can be a powerfully positive tool, allowing you to rest and recharge your mind and body, before facing up to life’s challenges. Think about the positive aspects of this practice especially at this particularly demanding time of year. Think of it as an early Christmas present for yourself.

Let’s Connect

How can you practice imagination today?  What in your life can you build an imaginary story around?  What’s stopping you from imagining – nothing!

If you are curious about how my coaching services can help you access your greater, unlimited self and move you away from a life of anxiety, sign up for a complimentary consultation.

And as always, I invite you to join in on the conversation on Facebook and Instagram.

To our Health and Wellbeing,

Karen

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