It’s been a while since I last wrote a blog… life has been very busy! But through my own healing work and introspection this topic is in essence the core to getting closer to achieving my healthy balance… reducing stress!
Like many people, I am forever on a path towards balance, and one thing I have learned over the years is that there are two types of stress. External stress, the things that happen outside of you, beyond your control, and then the stresses that you create for yourself by worrying, for example and having high expectations for yourself. The last couple of years have bought many challenging moments for me, both personally and professionally. For some of those moments, I could help shift and change the outside, but many were my responsibility to change on the inside.
Stress is stress and can sometimes be necessary in our lives for the times we need to act in the moment, but internal stresses can develop into chronic stress, and once this happens our health and wellness can begin to break-down from that ongoing pressure to perform and while being focused on what we want our lives to look like and what our goals are is great, it is also important to recognise that nothing is ever perfect and to trust the process, so things can flow a little more freely.
I love history, and I've read that more than two thousand years ago, the Greeks understood intuitively that emotions and health are one. Asclepions was named the Greek god of healing, and symbolised all that was essential in this balance was a healthy diet, pure water, exercise, and support of family and friends. Essential too were the emotions and soothing activities that calmed them. He carried a staff with a serpent curled around it symbolising both body and mind intertwined, an ancient symbol of body and soul, and today still one of the universally recognised symbols of medicine.
Despite this ancient wisdom however modern medicine scientists and physicians lost the knowledge that so much a part of these ancient teachings are relevant in medicine and our wellbeing. It’s been a long road back to accepting the wholeness of our health today and that the same parts of the brain that control stress response and depression, for example, play an important role in susceptibility and resistance to inflammatory diseases and illness.
Stress causes a chemical in the body called cortisol levels to rise, and there are ways to manage and react to external stress, and then there are tools to help manage the behavior that creates internal stress…. The problem is that many of us have forgotten what it is like to relax and let go. If you ask most people if they are stressed, they’ll say, “oh no, I’m fine.” And modern life can really be a trap for this, we are all so busy and doing it all. Lowering your stress levels, your cortisol levels is vital to your wellbeing and how you manage your weight, your sleep, and your whole well-being. And our body is always talking to us, giving us warning signals once we start to pay attention… but because we move so fast we don’t realise how stressful life has become, and we adapt to our level of engagement.
So, how do we reduce the impact of stress in our lives? Well, it requires discipline, like most things, making yourself aware of your stress triggers so that you can work to change it, developing strategies and tools which ground you to help manage and calm the storm brewing inside. For behavioral shifts to happen, you do have to pay attention, and intercept yourself everyday, and like most things some days you’ll master the art of inner-calm and other days you won’t. We are all wired in a certain way, and the journey isn’t easy, it’s a constant balancing act. It’s easy to close yourself off and feel separate from the whole, in todays society we are masters at soldiering on, and we become so used to operating at a certain level that we don’t even realise the stress that we feel, but what we will notice over time is the effect it has on our mind and body.
Letting go of ‘worry’ I know for me would be the best way for me to relieve much of my internal stress, it’s that BIG pink elephant I’ve got to loose. When I manage to do that, through the many tools I cycle through for myself, I know my health, wellbeing and happiness will change and will become a whole lot sweeter… it is a work-in-progress, and likely always be so, but finding ways to sneak in the things you enjoy or that keep you grounded whenever you can in the day, holding a space for yourself to just ‘be’ can help move you out of the fight n flight response and reinstate balance and regain your energy.
- Kate Lillian Burford
Here are some of my ways to de-stress:
- Being active is my moving mediation most of the time, whether doing a Bikram Yoga class, going for a run and taking a beautiful walk with my dog Gypsie… the body is such a powerful tool to creating energy and changing your state.
- I have recently discovered Cloud 9 Float Club which involves lying effortlessly for an hour or more in a solution of Epsom Salts. Not only so good for the body, but with sensory deprivation you truly float into a state of meditation, whether productively inspiring, or just simply switching off.
- Omvana - Is an app you can download for free and brings you 500+ tracks of world’s top transformational audios to enhance every area of your life. This has been my favourite meditative and inspirational tool. You can always find something that suits what you’re in the mood for.
- Also I highly recommend having a listen to Stanford Universities : Why Zebras Don’t get Ulcers by Robert Sapolsky. An iTUNESU audio sharing a wealth of information on stress and how it effects our lives.