By Janine Lowe
Stress can be an invitation to take notice of what are the habits that are growing us and those that are NOT. We get to choose how we respond to situations, and we are all doing the best we can and know in the moment. So go easy on yourself if you "lose your shit"! You're human, not perfect. Going way back to our Cavemen/Cave women days, our brains are hardwired to keep us alive and safe, which means being resistant to change. And the longer you've had this habit, the more ingrained the pathway, meaning the more resistance there will be in creating a new pathway of habits!
So maybe stop blaming and judging yourself for not doing better. Self deprecating thoughts and feelings don't ever feel good, nor do they allow us to move forward if we stay stuck in this downward spiral by CHOOSING to give our attention and energy to what we "coulda woulda shoulda" done. Of course we all experience challenges in life, it'd be
boring and not truly living if things were easy and predictable, kind of like Groundhog Day (great old movie!). Stress can help us build resilience AND also make us prone to injury and DIS-EASE (like diabetes, heart disease, Alzheimer's, anxiety/depression. It's all about the dosage! Too much of anything isn't good for us, EXCEPT Ocean Dippy's in the Winter especially at sunrise or sunset:) Feeling truly present in your body while calming your nervous system from the cold immersion, ie more of your blood pumping your vital organs, is LIVING! Picture this: You are sprinting your beautiful butt away from a "Saber Tooth" tiger (back in the old days obviously), heart is racing, breath rate is heavy and increasing, eyes are focused on the finding best exit point, no time to ponder if the Tiger is going to eat you or not, all meaning that most of the blood that was circulating around your vital organs (heart, lungs, digestive and reproductive system) ... is NOW pumping around your arms and legs to haul a$$ and NOT DIE!
And then once you make it back to your cave safe, you rest, eat some kai, shake it off and thank the Universe you're ALIVE! All is well, blood circulates again mainly around the vital organs, and your body and mind are back at EASE. Fast forward now to today's modern living, the busyness of all the hats: parent/caregiver, sister/ brother, mother/father/aunty/ uncle, friend, work colleague/ employer/employee, daughter/ son, and then there's YOU! Imagine your mind and body being in this state of high stress compounding over days, weeks, months, years from any or all of the things in your life, whether they are real or perceived stressors, your body doesn't know the difference and reduces your immunity! You could be safe at home, dry, warm and ample kai. Then thoughts pop up about bills, an argument with a friend from a decade ago, or what "could" happen in the future, any of these can kick in that same stress response as the tiger scenario, even though you are safe in the PRESENT MOMENT. The quote, by Mark Twain, is a pearl, "I've had a lot of worries in my life, most of which never happened." MIC DROP!!
There are a lot of stress management tools from evidencebased research and indigenous practices that are super simple, AND tricky (at first) to integrate. So I invite you to take notice of the thoughts and feelings (without judgement or shame) that aren't moving you towards WHO you want to BECOME and HOW you want to FEEL, and then choose one habit to create that honours YOU, first and your time and energy.
Below are some tools to explore:
Firstly, quality sleep
Maintain same wakeup and bedtime every day,
Mel Robbins 5second rule to get the brain doing vs thinking
Daily breathwork eg box breathing: 4s in, 4s hold, 4s out, 4s hold for 1-5min
Daily mindfulness: 10min to focus on breath, let thoughts or feelings come and go
Cold showers, ice bath or Winter ocean dips or saunas, seek discomfort daily
Time in nature Daily movement, see our Jan blog,
Exercise is Medicine
Hugs, kisses, laughter and connection with friends and whanau
Choosing to learn from all of life and a gift WE GET TO experience