Are Your Addicted to Stress? You may be harming your body
When I was at my corporate job, I was constantly focused on meeting the demands of my boss, clients, and partner. Actually, I was secretly hoping they’d be thrilled with me and my performance.
This persistent focus on pleasing others kept me in a constant state of stress. I felt alive, important, like I was making things happen. I motivated myself by fear and self-criticism, and believed it was the only way to perform well.
My self-talk went something like this:
“OMG! If you don’t do this perfectly, they’ll be so disappointed in you.”
“Oh no! He’s upset! Do whatever it takes to fix it.”
“You idiot, how could you make such a stupid mistake?!”
“Why did you do that? You’ll never recover.”
I was constantly stressed out.
Not good enough.
Can you relate?
What I didn’t realize is that listening to this critic was creating bad neural pathways in my brain, undermining my own performance and actually harming my body.
Let’s define stress
Stress is when your body is in a state of fight, flight, or freeze. The brain is perceiving what’s happening as a threat. So your sympathetic nervous system gets turned on. It takes blood away from the internal organs and sends it out to the limbs to get ready to fight, flee, or play dead.
As a result, your rest and digest or parasympathetic nervous system, the healing one, is turned off. As a result, the body can’t repair itself.
This system evolved to keep us safe from saber-toothed tigers back in the day. Now those tigers are gone. Our brains and nervous system perceive our boss, clients, the project, our spouse, or the judgy PTA moms in the same way.
As a result, many people develop chronic stress.
This happens when the part of the brain that scans for danger, the amygdala, works overtime, causing hypervigilance. So the body has no time to recover and heal. Often when clients come see me they are struggling with physical issues such as:
digestive issues, like leaky gut, irritable bowel syndrome
skin issues like eczema
chronic back or neck pain
food and environmental allergies
I had many of these symptoms back then. I kept going to doctors to fix my physical symptoms. Little did I know, I was creating them by how I was treating myself.
It doesn’t have to be this way
Yes, we all have that critic in our heads. Martha Beck refers to it as your Lizard Brain. Tim Gallway calls is your Stress Maker. Dr. James Hardt calls it your Nasty Roommate. Whatever you want to call it, it’s not going away.
Of course, it’s not that we don’t have real stresses in our lives, demands at work, spouses and kids, health challenges – they’re all real. It’s how we perceive them that makes the difference.
The most common source of stress is trying to meet unreasonable outside demands, while neglecting one’s own needs. This focus on trying to please others, or the drive to be a “good” mother, wife, employee, boss, daughter, friend…while very normal, will eventually lead to burnout, which leads to illness.
The problem is, that critic is like a dime-store calculator trying to boss around a brilliant supercomputer. That supercomputer is your body, the source of your intuition and wisdom.
Access your intuition and wisdom
Want to get back in touch with your supercomputer, your own intuition and wisdom?
Over the last decade, I’ve taken upon myself to learn how to settle my nervous system on a daily basis. My life has become so much more balanced. And those physical symptoms? Well, they only flare up when I’m too attached to my critic’s point of view.
I want to give you a simple sample of some tools that you can try today when you get stressed:
Notice what your critic is saying to you the stressful situation. Don’t worry, it will keep repeating itself. Write it all down. Then ask yourself about each concern, “Is it true?”
Take three to ten deeper breaths. Notice what you feel in your body and where.
Bring your awareness down to your feet and your seat. This helps you get out of your head and back in touch with your body.
As you go about your day and your critic pops up again, which it will, say “Stop.” Or “No. Quiet.” And go back to your focused activity.
Do something bigger to get in touch with your body – dance, go for a walk or run, connect to an animal.
This is a whole different approach to working with your stress. Instead of trying to get rid of your anxiety, you’ll be building your inner stability to help you access internal resources in times of stress.
Susan and I both help our clients build their inner stability through our coaching and our workshops.
When you sign up for Find Your Mojo in Montana, you’ll be working with horses who are masters at settling their nervous systems.
You can’t help but relax when you are coached by Susan with a horse in a round pen. Why not come and find out?
P.S. You are getting EARLY ACCESS to our Birthday Buddy Deal! When you and your buddy both sign up for Find Your Mojo in Montana, May 10-13, you EACH SAVE $400!
Use Code: FYMbuddy and email us with your buddy’s name.
P.P.S. This Birthday Buddy Deal is time limited. It only lasts through Monday, March 19th (my birthday)! Grab it now before we announce it on Facebook tomorrow!
CrisMarie Campbell and Susan Clarke are Master certified life coaches, business consultants, speakers and authors of The Beauty of Conflict. They believe real relationships are the key to creating great business results. They’ll take your team from mediocre to great.
Want to take a class? Sign up for one of their virtual classes: Get Unstuck, Relationship Mojo or come to their signature retreat Find Your Mojo in Montana. Click here to check out all their service offerings.