The Incredibly Creative Stress Kit, part 3: Eliminate/Concentrate

Here is the link to part 1, the Stress Test

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.

CONCENTRATE

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.

You already know how to breathe. It’s free and in your control.

Incredibly Creative Stress Kit part 2: Bodymind/ Duplicate

In case you missed part 1, the Stress Test, click here for  a link

You have a BODYMIND

Ever wonder what your neck was for?

Bodymind? You’re probably thinking, “a typo.” Research has proven that your body and your mind are connected by your neck and are inseparable. The body talks to the mind, the mind talks to the body, the body talks to the body and the mind talks to the mind. You’re just one big, interconnected bodymind.

Now, let’s take a quick look at stress so you will know what’s happening in your own bodymind.

WHAT’S HAPPEN’N?

The stress response is simply “Fight or Flight”. Its purpose is keeping you safe, out of harms way. The problem in today’s world is our brains don’t actually know what is dangerous: See a picture of fighting on TV and your brain gets the message you are in danger; Your brain thinks that the 11 ton cars traveling down the freeway are like rhinos charging. More danger.

Your brain desperately wants you to survive and any cue it perceives as possible danger – sight, sound, touch, taste, smell, thoughts & mental images – tells your bodymind to fight or flee from what is going to harm you. In some cases the freeze response is momentarily activated so that every part of your being is on alert giving time to decide whether to fight or flee.

When the stress response is activated blood is directed away from your intestines, stomach, brain – whatever organ isn’t needed to run or fight:

Ever get light headed? -it’s not time to think, just act: diarrhea?-let’s lighten the load; butterflies/queasy?-not the time to digest food. When you feel “shaky” it’s your blood being directed to arms and legs so there’s energy in that one-two punch and speed in your step. Lots of other things happen too, but you get the idea.

Here’s what you’ve been waiting for!

Stress Reducing Exercises & Activities

Try the exercise & activities from each of these four different approaches to find what works best for you.

1. DUPLICATE FIGHTING & FLEEING

2.ELIMINATE STRESS CUES

3. CONCENTRATE ON CALM CUES

4. FABRICATE YOUR EXPERIENCE

First a word of safety

(We don’t want to have your brain perceive danger).

All the physical activities must be done only to your individual capability. If you have any medical/physical issues see your doctor/health care practitioner first before you try any of the physical exercises.

1. DUPLICATE FIGHTING & FLEEING

Trying to calm down usually only increases the stress response. Your bodymind is telling you to moooove!

Conventional advice is to “relax” when you’re stressed. I don’t need to tell you…but I will anyway: It’s near impossible to “calm down” the fight or flight response once your adrenalin is pumping. So let’s creatively use what our bodymind is doing and GO ALONG WITH THE PROGRAM-let’s duplicate what the fight or flight stress response is preparing us to do.

Once the stress response is triggered the neurochemistry is already in your cells telling your body to run or fight before you are consciously aware of the stress response. It takes, on the average 20 to 30 minutes for the neurochemicals to metabolize out of the cells.

Do physical activity for 20-30 minutes, the stress response will pass.

MOVING EXPERIENCES:

Walk to the store

Do jumping jacks

Climb stairs

March to music

Take a hike Clean a closet

Samba, rumba & mambo

Jump rope
Play soccer
Scrub the floor Build a shed
Kick box

Wash windows

Walk the dog

Ride a horse

Mow the lawn

Paint the ceiling

Rock climb

just MOVE.

When you don’t have the space, time or availability to do a “Moving Experience” physical focus is a way of directing some of that adrenalin into a positive place. Next are two quick and easy physical focus exercises that you can even do in public.

 STRETCHING THE POINT

  • Stretch your arms out in front of you, palms down, strrrrrretch forward.
  • Raise your arms high over your head.
  • Stretch them, try to touch the ceiling.
  • Pull your arms toward the back of your head and holdfor a moment.
  • Let your arms drop back to your sides.
  •  WHEN LIFE GIVES YOU LEMONS

  • Pretend you have a whole lemon in your left hand
  • Squeeze it hard. Try to squeeze all the juice out.
  • Feel the tightness in your hand and arm as you squeeze.
  • Now drop the lemon (you can clean it up later)
  • Notice how your muscles feel when they are relaxed
  • Take another lemon I your left hand. Try to squeeze this one harder than the first lemon.
  • Drop the second lemon and relax.
  • Repeat this sequence using your right hand.

MOVING MANTRA

Adding thought to movement and your brain helps potentiate the activity.

NOW LET’S CONCENTRATE ON YOUR THOUGHTS. Remember, thinking is a cue to your brain.

First, what is a mantra? In this case it’s a positive statement you repeat over and over in your mind. We like to combine mantras with movement. So when we walk or exercise we’ll silently repeat a positive statement in rhythm to the pace.

Here are some to choose from. You can mix n” match. They don’t have to rhyme; it’s just incredibly more fun.

• 3-STEP Mantra: “I am safe”
• WALK AROUND THE BLOCK Mantra: “I feel good in the neighborhood”

• BREEZY DAYS Mantra: “Feel the balm, I am calm”

• IT’S FATE Mantra: “I feel good, I feel great, calm and tranquil is my fate!”

Better yet, create your own and e-mail us. We will share them with others.

Sneak Peak into our FREE Incredibly Creative Stress Kit, Part 1: Take This Stress Test

This is the first of 4 posts giving you FOR FREE a look into our . . .

 Incredibly Creative Stress Kit

written and illustrated by Slightly Stressed
Peggy Arndt & Judy Westerfield

Why The Incredibly Creative Stress Kit?

There are gazillions of books, articles, apps, tips & tricks on stress. What’s new? Why should this be different?

Most stress reduces are often boring, time-consuming or illegal. The purpose of this kit is to provide you with things we’ve tried that:

  • Are quick & easy

  • Have a creative twist

  • Are based on current neurological research

  • Work WITH your mind & body instead of trying to changethem

  • And… if you do them, they work!

First, take this scientifically based, unscientifically worded Stress Test. (The asides are ours*).

*P.S. No matter how we’ve worded the Stress quiz, all statements, in both Parts I and II, reflect REAL stress relievers and REAL stress inducers.

Part I- Stress Relievers Test

Scoring: Give each statement a score of 1, 2, 3, 4, or 5

  • 1 – Yes, Always, Absolutely. I’m near perfect
  • 2 – Usually
  • 3 – Occasionally
  • 4 – Almost Never
  • 5 – Who ME? Are you kidding? Never, No way

____I give and receive affection regularly. (quantity, not necessarily quality)
____I have a circle of friends/relatives who are supportive.
____I exercise to the point of perspiration at least 3 times a week.

____I gave up smoking or have never smoked. (This refers to anything you put in your mouth and light on fire)

____I drink fewer than 5 alcoholic drinks a week (including beer & wine!)

____I am the appropriate weight for my height. (Not measured by runway model standards, please)
____I have such a flat mid-section you could serve drinks on it. (Must be fewer than 5 alcoholic drinks/week)

____I have an income adequate to meet my basic expenses. (And I use it for my basic expenses!)
____I get strength or solace from my spiritual/religious beliefs.

____I have people I am in touch with who I consider to be friends. (And they consider me to be a friend)

____I eat at least one balanced meal a day. (Translation: I eat fruits & vegetables once a day)
____I get 7-9 hours of sound sleep at least 5 nights a week.
____I am in good health- hearing, teeth/gums, eyesight. (I floss my teeth at least once a day)

____I am able to speak openly about my angry or worried feelings.

____I spend less than 4 hours a day watching TV or playing video games.
____I am able to take time for myself at least once a week. (Bathroom time does not count)

____I am able to have conversations with the people I live with about concerns, needs and issues. (The operant word is conversation, not argument)

Part II – Stress inducers Test

Scoring

Add 5 points for each of the following if they have occurred in the past 12 months and/or you have Post Traumatic Stress symptoms from the experiences indicated:

An accumulation of stressor over months, years or over a lifetime

____I’ve separated and/or divorced
____Gotten married
____Had a new baby or adopted
____Had twins, triplets, quadruplets, sextuplets, septuplets (for each child add 5 points)

____Been to jail (either as a “guest” or visitor).

____Become a step-parent
____Had a close friend or relative die (including pets)

____Lost a job, got fired, changed jobs, or retired.

____Sold and/or bought a home

.____Moved residences and/or remodeled my home.
____My wife/partner began menopause (and is outa control)
____My children have become teen-agers and/or are teenagers (5 points for each teen-ager)
____My husband/partner has become a teen-ager (Had a skull & cross bone tattooed on the arm and/or left to buy milk and never came back)

____Became a caretaker for an elderly parent, sibling, or grandchild(ren) (5 points for each person you take care of)
____My 40 year-old child moved back in, sleeps till noon and is not paying rent.
____My mother-in-law moved in, is paying rent and won’t move out.

____Had a serious illness or condition.
____Been hospitalized and/or dealt with insurance companies.
____Been in an accident or caused an accident (even if you weren’t hurt)

____Misc. other: Your stressor(s) of choice______________

Totals

_______Sub total Part I

_______Sub total Part II

_______Grrrrrand total

Find your total Score

Check out your stress level with this highly exaggerated

but accurate scoring system!

Stress-O-Meter 

Under 24: You shouldn’t’ be wasting your time taking stress tests. You are Calm, Cool & Collected and/or are from an alien planet.

Between 25-60: You should pay some attention to taking better care of yourself. Eat healthy and drink more milk.

Between 60-75: Your new mailing address will be Burnout- Ville. Run to the nearest parlor to have your score tattooed on your bicep as a reminder to slow down and breathe.

Over 75: Move to Tahiti immediately and don’t wait for the boat. (Swimming is a great stress reliever)

Over 200: indicates you took this test while curled up in a fetal position. When you manage to get up, IMMEDIATELY go out to buy milk, start swimming and never come back (you probably already have the tattoo)

If you scored more than 25, stay tuned to this blog for more of the Incredibly Creative Stress Kit

AND/OR!

Click here for your free PDF copy of the entire Incredibly Creative Stress Kit