Are You Stuck in a Stress Cycle?


Living our lives like Chicken Little (The Sky is Falling!) can be quite exhausting. Yet, so many of us live from one crisis to another! We have become so accustomed to crisis and deadlines that we feel almost lost if we aren’t putting out some kind of fire. In fact, if we really were honest, there is something dramatic and exciting about handling a crisis. It makes us feel as if we have some modicum of control in our lives.
Perhaps, however, on occasion you’ve wondered if all these crises are normal and if there is another way to live life that might be a little less exhausting. Even though you are exhilarated in handling these crises, they do leave you feeling drained. Could it be that these things don’t just happen to you? That you have a hand in their creation?

Now, I’m not saying you’re addicted to stress or drama, however the stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline that are created by stress, can be very addicting.

Pay attention to what’s happening. Start to notice when these crises occur.

If you aren’t empowering the people you lead to handle the day-to-day, then you are training them to come to you for everything. That’s a disservice to them and to you.

There are stress response cycles that we all go through. You’ve no doubt heard of the “fight or flight” response and have certainly experienced it in your life. There is a cycle to this stress pattern: beginning (feel the fear), middle (take action) and end (a feeling of safety). When you complete the cycle, the stress and stressors are removed.

Perhaps you’re stuck in a loop – a stress response cycle that hasn’t been completed. When you continue to talk about a certain situation that is stressful, you keep reliving that stress. You continue the cycle of stress in your mind, even though the situation may have passed. Your mind is keeping the stress alive and your body is the storage container.

“Physical activity is the single most efficient strategy for completing the stress response cycle and recalibrating your central nervous system into a calm state. When people say, ‘Exercise is good for stress,’ that is for realsie real.” – Emily Nagoskai

How to stop doing that?

  • Break the pattern: When you notice yourself going down that same path of repeating the story, stop yourself. Tell yourself that is in the past and is not happening now. Then, change the subject. Redirect your mind to something that is more productive. You might want to journal on the amount of drama in your life and why you think it exists.
  • Breathe: Taking long, deep inhalations through your nose and exhaling out your mouth will slow down your brain and your nervous system as a whole. Tell yourself you have everything you need to handle any situation and you can let go of stress any time you choose. Keep breathing – 6-8 deep breaths – and feel the difference.
  • Get physical: When that very familiar feeling of stress starts to rise up, you need to do the same. Rise up – get up. Walk, jog, dance around the room, hop on a bike, do some push-ups, run up and down a few sets of stairs – whatever you can to release that stress from your body and mind. The endorphins that surface will help you feel better.

What will you do to relieve stress in your life? Choose one of these tips or leave a comment and share one of your own that has worked for you.

Bottom line: Stress is so 2017. Say no to staying stuck.

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