In this part 3 we continue with ways to reduce your stress:
2. ELIMINATE STRESS CUES
Get rid of stress cues in your life: Move to Tahiti, become a Monk, get a chauffeur, calm down—this category is more difficult than we originally thought . . . but not impossible.
Your bodymind wants you to live and prosper. It’s smart but limited. It can’t tell the difference between what is actually happening to you and what it perceives from the cues it receives through your sight, sound, smell, touch, taste, thoughts and mental imagery. Remember the rhino-cars?
So you need to eliminate, or at the very least avoid, cues that your smart but limited brain might perceive as threatening or dangerous.
Stress cues in your control to eliminate:
- Reading tragic news stories (full of sight & sound stress cues)
- Watching TV news or crime programs (particularly before bed)
- Listening to certain rap music
- Spending time with “toxic” or negative people
- Worrying about what you can’t control (like earthquakes)
- Thinking negative thoughts
You control what images, sounds, tastes, touches, smells, and thoughts you expose your brain to. Even if you live in a war zone or are a police officer on gang patrol, with no control over the images and sounds that surround you, the one thing you do have control over are your thoughts.
3. CONCENTRATE! ON CALM CUES
When stress is chronic, it’s most effective to periodically give your brain a calm cue though-out the day and evening. In other words, you “chronically” cue your mind that it no longer has to keep you on alert, ready to flee or fight, because you’re not in danger.
These two favorite breathing cues of ours are quick, simple and can be done anywhere, anytime.
Super Simple Signal Breath
In order to do this anywhere, anytime keep your eyes open and breathe through your nose.
- Take a deep breath, expand your lungs and hold the breath for a moment before releasing it slowly, gently through your nose.
- Let your body relax, deepening a sense of comfort in any way that’s best for you
- Breathe normally and naturally…until your next Super Simple Signal Breath.
Because our autonomic nervous system has our breathing on “automatic pilot” we easily can forget to take this purposeful Super Simple Signal Breath.Here are some reminders that have worked for others to take a Super Simple Signal Breath:
- Every time the phone “rings” or you text
- Wear a bracelet or your watch on the “wrong” wrist
- Put a post it note on your bath room mirror, car dash board
- Write “B” for breathe in your appointments calendar
One Breath Cue with Safe Thought Cue
Try it NOW as you follow the instructions:
- Take a deep, full breath, expanding your belly outward.
- Hold the breath for a count of 5.
- Very slowly, gently release the breath through your nose and relax your body in any way you choose contracting your belly inward.
- Tell your brain (silently) “I’m safe, right now.”
Don’t wait to feel stressed to purposely breathe. The more you practice the breath cues when you’re not stressed the easier it is for the brain to respond automatically and the quicker it will work when you are stressed. We’ve taught many people with severe anxiety disorders to do these one-breath exercises. Everyone reports it is one of the most effective things they have ever tried.
The hard part is remembering to do it.