Stress management tips generally tend to lean toward the advice kinds of tips, organize your schedule, re-arrange some aspect of your external life, and those are important aspects of stress management tips.
However, as a student of personal growth and counseling for about 30 years, I have gone inside if you will with stress management, and I work on my own stress using an entirely different set of tools these days, because stress is an inside job.
Whether it is eustress or distress, the physiology is internal, and it follows very rapidly some interpretation of sensory data, which happens in my brain.
If I am under actual attack, or I am hunting I need to mobilize a stress physiology fast, in much less time than it takes to blink my eyes, in order to stay alive.
The normal order of stress is that we then rest, assuming a successful outcome to our defense.
However, when I mobilize that intense chemistry inside my body because the natural gas bill is larger than I expected, and then sustain that chemistry unnecessarily, I am creating a situation inside my body that will lead to many kinds of distress.
Here the interpretation of sensory data is that my resources are not large enough to take care of the problem of the too high utility bill.
In this latter stressful situation, I need to change the thought to change the feeling, at the very least, because I need to bring back the chemistry of eustress or eustasis.
This stress response to too high utility bills is not life threatening in the sense that a saber tooth tiger leaping out of the bushes is, and my stress response for tigers actually limits my options for problem solving for utility bills.
Too much cortisol and adrenalin actually decrease neurogenesis, the growth of new brain cells, and neuroplasticity, which is my brain’s desire to form new connections. The impact of greater neuronal connectivity is what we call knowledge and problem solving ability through brain storming.
Stress Management Tip #1
Stress physiology is an option, unless you are under an actual attack.
Stress physiology can be changed to relaxation physiology, and I will move back and forth between the two physiology’s many times each day, so I need to learn how to recognize those physiologies and steer them like I steer my car, with many thousands of small adjustments.
Ever notice how sometimes you may drive home and when you get there not remember anything about your trip?
Well, your body knows how to drive so well that it will get you home safely while your mind is on other problems.
We want to be that aware of our internal physiology and relaxing or getting aroused as need be and then relaxing again.
If you are driving home and see a kid shooting hoops in the driveway let the ball get past, and the child turns to run out into the street to get the basketball without looking, you need a stress response to protect the child and yourself and other drivers from this unexpected development, and once the danger is behind you, you need to consciously let go of the stress.
How fast can you let go of the stress? In a heartbeat? Doing heart rate variability biofeedback….
Stress Management Tip #2.
Technology has given us a wonderful tool to manage the inside of our body heart beat by heart beat, using thinking and breathing tools, and once I have practiced this a few times, because it is easy to learn, I can cue a relaxation response, actually much more than a relaxation response, on any given heart beat.
The name of this tool is called Heartmath and it has grown out of another new field of knowledge, neurocardiology, which is the study of the hearts own nervous system.
It turns out that your heart has a brain, which can learn and make decisions independently of any other brain I have. In fact, the heart’s brain sends much more data about how we are doing emotionally up than the upper brain sends down.
Just like EEG brainwaves can be trained so that I manage attentional styles, heart rate variability coherence can be trained so that I can manage the time between heart beats.
A coherent heart beat feels good, and bathes the inside of my body with the anti aging hormone DHEA, rather than adrenalin and cortisol, which diminish or stop neurogenesis and neuroplasticity if present too much or too frequently.
Heart rate variability biofeedback also opens the higher perceptual centers of the brain too, for brain storming, so I want to learn to use this tool regularly.
Since I am a late life parent of late life children, I want to manage the aging process, and not trust that I have good genes.
Heart rate variability is a key piece of my aging wellness process, along with the use of various computerized brain fitness programs which help me continue high rates of neurogenesis and neuroplasticity.