We’ve all felt it, that feeling of frustration from trying to meet demands of work or family. Uncertainty in situations or overwhelm when we feel like we are juggling everything at once and not getting anywhere.
When we are stressed, this triggers the Sympathetic Nervous System and puts us into a state of fight or flight. Some symptoms include, a dry mouth, feeling sweaty or clammy, heart pounding in the chest, breathing gets shallower, stomach might feel upset or we might feel like we are going to be sick.
It is the role of the Sympathetic Nervous System to prepare the body for fight or flight and a rush of chemicals such as adrenaline and cortisol are released into the body to prepare us for the “battle” response.
Imagine if we are in this state constantly and how it might feel with in the body. When we are constantly in this state cortisol levels are increased, and this influences anxiety, weight gain, insomnia, irritable bowel and digestive issues. It can lead to serious health issues.
When we find ourselves under stress the easiest way to work with it is to bring your awareness to something within your control. The simple act of breathing provides an opportunity to rest and restore helping us to regulate heart beat and reduce the feelings associated with the battle response.
Focusing on the breath provides a resting place for the mind and provides an opportunity to choose a response to the circumstances.
In turn, this helps us to think more clearly, improve how we respond to stress triggers and build a greater awareness of self and others.
A quick and easy method is B.E.T.A.
With a straight back, take some deep breaths in and out and check in with your B.E.T.A
B – Bring awareness to your Body and any sensations you feel such as tension, pain, heartbeat
E – Bring awareness to your emotions/feelings and label them
T – Notice and acknowledge your Thoughts
A – Choose your Action.
This process helps to develop an awareness of self and the ability to strategically choose your response.
An 8 week study at Harvard University found that participants who practiced mindfulness developed changes in the brain in places that are important for focus, empathy and compassion, and emotional regulation. The researchers also reported decrease of amygdala grey matter in the region associated with fear and perceived stress.
Just as it is important for physical fitness, the key is regular practice to build mental fitness.
With all the best intentions and careful planning, for one reason or another it just doesn’t play out how you expect it to.
This happened recently when we entered Indie, our kelpie into the hill climb at the 2018 Kelpie Muster at Casterton in Victoria.
The goal of the competition was to compete for the quickest time up a steep hill. It seemed very easy. All that was required of Indie was to run straight up the 900-meter hill as Aaron my partner called from the top.
She is fast. We felt confident that she would do well. It certainly started that way, but then she became a little confused and stopped as if to get some bearings and then when she realised where she had to go, she was back on track.
Of course, we were extremely proud of her 1minute and 29 second effort not quite as quick as Ned the Kelpies 29.9 seconds. But for her first time we were impressed.
There is always something to be learned from a challenge and it is important to remember this.
We may have a clear view of where we want to go but its not until we start that we realise the path might be a little different than we expected it to be.
We might feel the weight of expectations or disappointment. It is so easy to pick out and procrastinate on what didn’t work. We are all good at this.
Take some time to discover what has worked so far
Acknowledge things haven’t gone quite to plan.
Re-evaluate with an idea of what the future looks like, or what might be.
Consider the actions required to move forward.
Be kind to yourself and others.
Talk to others, ask questions of people who have done it before and consider their lessons and take on board their wisdom and advice.
It’s ok and normal to have moments of doubt or disappointment. Don’t dwell on it, lean into it accept the discomfort and choose your next move.
Ultimately how you view the challenge will determine your success.
Wishing you wellbeing.