The Global Stress Summit & What I’ve Learned

I’ve been tuning into the Global Stress Summit this week where each day several experts speak on the subject of stress.

I have my go-to resources for how I personally cope with stress (yoga, meditation, immersing myself in nature, a relaxing bath with epsom salts & essential oils) and feel like I have a relatively decent understanding of the importance of managing stress and what can happen when you lose your center for too long, but I’m always interested in the chance to add to that knowledge, since it’s such a major part of disease, and an unavoidable part of our reality. Not everyone experiences stress the same, but everyone does feel the pressure that comes from not having enough time, energy or resources to get everything done.

Here are some gems I’ve picked up so far, happy to share with you for your own experimenting:

1-Telling yourself “I don’t have enough time” will trigger your stress response. When you catch yourself doing this, tell yourself “but I DO have enough time to get all the critical, important, urgent things done” There are a million things and people that are simultaneously fighting for our time and attention. The trick is prioritizing what to do and the best time to do it. For example, addressing your biggest challenges during your most optimal time of day (mine is the morning).

2-Start everyday with a brain dump, or to-do list. Generalize and just get it all out of your head and onto paper, and then organize, prioritize, and actualize. Staying organized (including in your thoughts) will help to reduce our stress levels. Lack of control triggers our stress response, whether real or perceived.

3-Prioritize staying centered. Feeling misaligned is another way to trigger your stress response. It’s not so much that we don’t have time, it’s that we cant pull it together in a way that is really deeply focused. When you’re not deeply focused, you’re basically in a daydream (or nightmare). Stop trying to be someone you’re not, or somewhere you’re not. Having a routine that helps you stay centered helps you show up to what’s in front of you and make the best of the moment.

4-Focus on the critical few vs. the trivial million. Stop saying yes to everyone/everything. Remember that other people’s emergencies are not yours. Your time is valuable, prioritize what’s most important for you.

5-Aim for progress, not perfection. What are your biggest 2-3 time wasters? What about your biggest high-impact activities? You may not have it all figured out, but placing on foot in front of the other, while in a state of deliberate focus will get you where you want to go.

And my favorite takeaway so far…(drumroll)…

6-Yawning calms the mind and body. Try it. Next time you find yourself worked up, assess how you’re feeling, then yawn 3 times and reassess. Neuroscientist Andrew Newberg, M.D calls this one of the best kept secrets in neuroscience. Yawning enhances awareness, calmness, alertness and bodily relaxation, and it only takes a minute to relax you physiologically. 

In Mark Waldman’s book he co-authored with Andrew Newberg, MD, they recommend you set an alarm to remind yourself to do this several times throughout the day. Throw in some stretches while you’re at it!

You learn something new everyday!

Do you have an uncommon tool you use to manage stress and stay centered? I’d love to hear about it!

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