Christmas is a busy time for everyone and the hectic schedules can make it very difficult for people to manage stress levels. But what exactly is stress, if not a form of trauma.
In the simplest of terms, Trauma is an external experience that becomes internalized. Something happens that rattles your world and instead of shaking off the effects as animals do, you embody it.
Someone who has experienced a trauma, whether it was a one-time experience or an on-going life pattern, will find that all of his or her physical and emotional resources are used to deal with this event(s).
Our bodies are not meant to be in a constant state of fight or flight, on alert to quickly respond. Over time this type of reality changes our hormone responses, impacts our digestive abilities and tires us out mind, body, and soul.
However, little by little it is possible to shift this pattern. If you have experienced a trauma recently, the following guidelines may help shift your mindset and ease you out of the fight or flight response.
Create a routine that you follow
Rise at the same time each morning. Go to bed at the same time each night. Enjoy your meals at about the same time every day. Incorporate a daily walk or some form of exercise either in the morning, at noon or in the evening. Think of this as the steady beat of a drum that underlies your day. Create your own rhythm that you can count on. Bring order to what might currently be chaotic.
Pranayama: Breathing Exercises to Reduce Stress
Exercising the breath helps to circulate prana or life force throughout the body. The breathing of an anxious person is usually shallow, light, and tends to be rapid. A person can feel easily fatigued because they are not able to access energy that is released from the absorption of prana. Learning to slow the rate of breathing and move the breath deep into the abdomen can decrease anxiety and help to balance other symptoms of anxiety. Simple practices of deep abdominal breathing for ten rounds whenever anxious or anticipating anxiety can help calm the body and mind.
For more information on pranayama check out this article, by the art of living.
Know Your Stress Triggers
Stress is the ‘wear and tear’ our minds and bodies experience as we attempt to cope with our continually changing environment. People often think of stress as a pressure at work, a sick child or rush hour traffic. These events may be triggers but stress is actually the body’s internal reaction to such factors.
Stress is the automatic fight or flight response in the body, activated by adrenaline and other stress hormones, which stimulate a variety of physiological changes, such as increased heart rate and blood pressure, faster breathing, muscle tension, dilated pupils, dry mouth and increased blood sugar.
Being aware of what is happening to your body is helpful to recognize when you’re experiencing negative stress. This can then help you to identify the trigger.
For example, a common trigger for people is being late. You put yourself under extreme stress by trying to make it somewhere on time, when you know it’s not possible. Recognizing that being late is a trigger for you can help you to avoid similar situations in the future.
But also, it can help you to understand why you were late. Was this out of your control? If so, you can be blamed so why put yourself through stress? Maybe you could have left earlier, if so, why didn’t you? Instead of freaking out and worrying about it, why don’t you find the benefit in the lessons you can take away from the experience?
If you’re stressed from guilt because you’re always late, ask yourself, why does this keep happening? I know being late makes me stressed, why don’t I try to fix it? There might be some deeper underlying issues you need to work on.
Article written by features editor Ciara Glover
Having trouble sleeping? Check out our article on sleep myths here.