Before you know it, you lose your connection to the things in your life that you value most, and feel overwhelmed.
How do you regain your balance and reconnect during stressful times?
Assess the True Level of the Stressor
Often times, we snowball our stressors in our minds, allowing them to become much bigger than they really are.
Our perception of stress and how we choose to approach it makes a difference in how stress impacts us.
For example, if there is a task that you simply do not like and you choose to approach that task with negative feelings, dreading it and anticipating it being exhausting, it will feel more stressful and will drain you.
However, you can immediately diminish your perception of stress and take more control over your energy by engaging in self talk and planning proactively for moments of relaxation.
For example, you might say,”I realize this is not a favorite task. I will plan for moments of utter rejuvenation amid this task.” You can use five minutes of meditation, qi gong movement, reading inspirational writings, or any other activity that calms and lifts your spirit to counter the stress of engaging a task that you experience as stressful.
This integrative way of using qi gong to help you move through experience not only improves productivity, but is very empowering because while we can’t always avoid stress, we can find ways to create mini-breaks or vacations from stressful experiences.
Reconnect Instead of Isolating Yourself
When we feel stressed, we may isolate ourselves with a belief that we are alone in coping with stress. We wind up creating a cocoon centered around dealing with the stressor and recovering from stress, such that we unconsciously push other things out of our life.
Now, sometimes we need to unplug from everything and everyone. This is healthy especially when we communicate this need to people in our lives and also actively plan for times to reconnect.
It becomes unhealthy when we simply unplug and push people away, treating supportive people in our lives as if they are an extra burden or load, taxing our already stressed systems. This behavior simply isolates and prevents us from receiving support that can actually help us diminish stress.
When we choose to isolate ourselves, we also disconnect from joy. Have you ever noticed that when you are more isolated, you laugh less? When someone makes an attempt to joke or lighten the moment (a form of stress relief), your response might be a dead-pan or silent response.
Yet, at other times, when you feel less stressed, you might laugh more easily and see the humor in life’s challenges.
Take a few deep breaths and reflect on your style of handling stress
- Do you take on the “It’s me against the world,” attitude and push support away?
- Do you perceive support as a gift and honor it by allowing stress levels to diminish?
- Do you get caught up in “life must be stressful” mode, and refuse to allow stress to lower even when support is offered, finding new reasons to feel stressed although solutions have been provided to relieve stress?
The “Gratitude” meditation found in our audio studio is a wonderful meditation that helps you reconnect with those things in your life that are positive and rejuvenating, a first step in stepping out of isolation and reconnecting with positive people and supportive activities in your life.
During stressful times, it is important to:
Eat in a balanced way.
To gain most energy, one should eat within 30 minutes to an hour of rising. That first meal should be a high protein meal with healthy carbs as opposed to a high sugar meal with low protein. Examples of this kind of meal is tofu soup with miso and brown rice or quinoam or a bowl of dal (lentils) with a whole grain rice or bread.
Some of us live on energy bars and caffeine (sodas, coffee, energy drinks), loading up on the simple carbs which cause energy spikes and drops and weight gain. Or we might feel as if we are being healthy in avoiding sugar but relying on caffeine rich products that contain sugar substitutes.
Yet, researchers are finding that chemical sugar substitutes can weaken the pancreas and set one up to develop pre-diabetes, while caffeine can weaken the endocrine system over time, exhausting the adrenal glands, leading to more fatigue and less ability to approach stress in a balanced way.
Timothy Ferris, in his book, “The Four Hour Body” advocates a no grain approach to carbs, substituting beans for the carbohydrate, which can also be a rich source of fiber.
By eliminating gluten found in the grains from the diet, some people report higher levels of energy. For those needing to lose weight, this slow carb way of eating can help weight loss occur more quickly. For those needing to maintain muscle weight, they achieve greater “cut” and definition with this style of eating.
Also, eating regularly is important to maintaining even levels of glucose in your blood stream so you do not experience drops and surges in energy.
Making sure one gets adequate nutrition and level of healthy calories (low fat, low simple carbs) is so important to having the energy to deal with life’s stressors.
The bottom line is that if you skimp on eating properly, you will feel more overwhelmed and drained by experiences that you perceive as stressful.
Exercise Regularly with Energy Building Regimens
Yes, yoga and going to the gym or performing a cardio and training are helpful, but qi gong/taiji are the only exercisse that have a system of movements designed to not only destress the body but build internal energy.
Stress depletes not only our physical and emotional energy, but also the core energies.
Stress can dminish:
- Jing qi, energy residing in the kidneys (which is why many people develop lower back pain when they are stressed or knee pain).
- Ying qi (our nutritive energy that also is closely associated to our emotional states–thus as this layer of energy gets depleted by stress, we tend to feel more irritable and our cognitive abilities become taxed as well).
- Wei qi (the outer layer of energy that is protective and relates to our immunity, which also can decline during stress).
The qi gong system has movements and breath work that specifically addresses rebuilding these energy layers as well as toning the body, increasing flexibility and strength, and calming the mind.
Whereas traditional yoga does not specifically address these layers of energy, although it can be beneficial in terms of toning the body and gaining strength and flexibility and a more mentally calm state.
Qi gong also targets specific organs that often get off balance during stress.
For example, when people are stressed, their liver energy becomes overactive, creating a tendency to have digestive upset, higher blood lipids, high blood pressure, headaches, and dizziness.
There are specific movements to help quell and rebalance the liver, detoxifying the liver as you move through the day.
To learn how to manage your energy such that you can smoothly sail through stressful moments in life, check out our weekly class at Westlake Well Being starting April 9th, Saturday from 2 pm to 3 pm
We diminish our capacity to deal with stress when we have unresolved emotions because so much energy goes into containing the energy layers that hold these feelings.
Unresolved anger, frustration, grief, sadness and disappointment can deplete energy such that we feel easily overloaded when new or unexpected experiences emerge or even when old stressors show up in our lives.
When we use qi gong and tools such as counseling to gently release these unresolved emotions held at deeper layers, we find that we have the capacity to feel less stressful when faced with new experiences in our lives.
How do you know if you have unresolved emotional energy (stuck energy) that is depleting you?
When things change from your usual routine, you may tend to feel overwhelmed quickly–a feeling of “I only have enough energy to deal with what is on my plate now,” might be a reflection that internal energy is going towards containing unresolved emotions, such that your reservoir of energy, from which to draw during stress, is more limited.
You may respond to stressors as if they are much larger than what they are.
For example, small things in life may trigger unresolved feelings to create a sensation of pressure, loss of control, increased fear or anxiety, or sadness and anger .
The strategy I often use with clienst is having them engage the self talk, “Is that really true?”
For instance, if a person has unresolved feelings about worthiness, and they are expressing that they are feeling pressured to perform or be perfect, I ask, “But is that really true, are people expecting you to be perfect or are you creating that internal pressure for yourself?”
If those around you are cutting you slack and not expecting perfection, but you still approach interactions as if you have to be perfect and feel internal pressure, then chances are that there are some unresolved emotional feelings around worthiness and how you define what is acceptable about yourself.
Another indicator is that you may require alcohol or other substances to reduce stress, numb or release feelings.
If you find yourself crying or releasing emotions after a few drinks, or expressing anger or rage, chances are those feelings are always with you but simply hidden and unresolved such that they emerge when alcohol or recreational drugs reduce inhibitions.
Similarly, if you find that your moods become calmer when partaking of alcohol or other mood altering substances, you might ask yourself, “What am I holding emotionally such that I cannot get to this calmer state without substances?”
We cannot change the emotional terrain that experiences elicit in us, but we can become more aware of that terrain and proccess our feelings such that they are not depleting our energy, making us more vulnerable to the effects of stress.