Ritemind™ Stress Less Workshops and The Indian River County Chamber of Commerce fundraising event was canceled due to Hurricane Irma and will be rescheduled in October or November. In the meantime, we invite you to listen to the radio show Community Conversations hosted by Treasure Coast Community Health’s Vicki Soule`.
Before the storm…“It starts with a breath…”
Vicki Soule`, Katie Hoffman, and Bob Fitzgerald from Ritemind™ Stress Less Workshops discuss ways to manage stress through perspective, mindfulness, and staying grounded.
Companies demand it. Psychology says “Embrace it!” Life forces it.
But, do we really want change? Some people do, some don’t. And, there is a significant difference between change we choose vs. change forced upon us; the big C word—Control. Even positive change involves a loss of the familiar and comfortable and a move into the “unknown”. Part of our brains resists change, even more so when we haven’t chosen it and especially when it causes turmoil.
Is it possible to learn how to be more adaptable and resilient? Research tells us we can. One way is to take advantage of brain plasticity. Scientists used to think the brain lost its plasticity, or ability to create new neural pathways by about age 5. Science now proves the brain remains “plastic” throughout the lifespan, meaning you can teach an old dog new tricks.
There are 2 simple behaviors, which can enhance adaptability and therefore our ability to be more resilient in the face of change, chosen or not:
Dr. Daniel Amen suggests spending 15 minutes each day learning something new which presents a challenge or pushes us outside our Comfort Zone. Such activities as dancing, playing a musical instrument, learning a difficult subject or language, all create new neural networks. It is just as important to exercise your brain as to do a workout for strength, flexibility and endurance of your body.
“Do one scary thing each day.” Eleanor Roosevelt promoted this idea as a way of becoming more engaged in living life to its fullest. Doing activities that make us a little anxious or put us in the Stretch Zone, heighten our senses, create new neural pathways and increase memory. You are bound to remember the first time you got up on water skis, but less likely to remember the tenth time. Your one scary thing may not be water skiing, but offering to give a presentation or talking to people you don’t know.
You may even be able to combine numbers 1 and 2. And, the good news is, the more you practice a behavior, the easier it becomes. So, the more you practice creating new neural pathways and resiliency, the more adaptable you will become. It is a skill that can be learned like any other skill. People get better at a sport or their jobs the more often they “practice”. The payoff is decreased stress, increased memory, increased coping abilities, increased creativity, increased ability to solve problems, increased efficiency and quicker recovery time when change comes, welcome or not.
Beth A. Planzer, LPCC, BCC
Certified Stress Less Workshops Coach & Trainer
Beth Planzer, LLC
Every Wednesday night at about 9pm, I remind my sweetie to take the trash out. It goes something like this…
Me: It’s garbage eve.
Sweetie: Oh, yeah, I gotta take the trash out, ugggggh.
All week, we gather containers of unwanted debris we call trash, we use the good stuff like the banana not the peel, or the milk not the carton, all of the remaining is unnecessary fodder. Unless we want to be featured on the TV show hoarders we must remove all of this collected debris, take it to the curb for removal so we can keep our lives running smoothly.
When it comes to our daily thinking we need to have a similar system. There is a thing called head trash that gets in our way of keeping things clean and clear for living our lives fully. Head trash can be described as thoughts that are not useful to fully living, like that banana peel or the empty milk carton needs to get kicked to the curb once a week. If we hoard those head trash thoughts we end up with a smelly mess that won’t stop stinking.
What if you were to have a head-trash garbage eve? A regular ritual of bagging it up and taking it to the curb.
How to get rid of your head trash is only one of the tools we use at Stress Less Workshops to teach people just like you how to manage their stress. I invite you to try our programs and see what stress management can do for you. – Katie Hoffman
We usually address the process of stress here at Stress Less Workshops, but what about its cousin, anxiety? What is the difference between stress and anxiety, and how would you handle them differently—or would you? To answer this, first we need to understand the nature of anxiety. In this article, we’ll get a deeper understanding of anxiety, how to recognize it, and what you can do about it. Disclaimer: none of the information presented here is intended as professional medical or mental health advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This information does not substitute for the advice of a qualified, licensed medical or mental health professional.
Types of anxiety
Anxiety falls into three major groups. See if you can recognize any of these:
Panic is known by an intense sensation of fear, or even the fear of having (yet another) a panic attack—often without any clear or reasonable cause. You will recognize it by experiencing heightened physical arousal, perhaps including rapid heart rate, hyperventilation, dizziness, nausea, and so forth.
Generalized anxiety is defined as a six month or longer period of excessive worrying over normal things. If you’ve experienced this, you may have found your daily life robbed of pleasure, your attention impaired, or your overall mental state fraught with a sense of dread.
Social anxiety (aka “social phobia”) is marked by an avoidance of places and activities where others are present. You may even feel so anxious that you start to shake, blush, or break out into a sweat—not fun at all!
Symptoms of anxiety
Anxiety frequently presents telltale physical, mental, and behavioral symptoms. Do any of these seem familiar?
Anxious Body: The sensations you may experience in your body include negative feelings like fright or panic, flushing, sweating, and the red embarrassed face of social anxiety. Or, you may feel a more general buzzing tension like those people who seem a little too “wired” and worried. These symptoms can be better understood and managed with breathing techniques, mindfulness practices, and thought labeling (techniques we teach early on in the Stress Less Workshops Core Curriculum).
Anxious Mind: Mental symptoms are experienced as over-activity in the brain, which can create mental tension, worry, and mental anguish. With the right tools, you can keep anxiety from overrunning your life. For example, mind-mapping is a great tool for befriending the thoughts that disturb your mind-body connection.
Anxious Behavior: In order to avoid the feeling of anxiety, some people will avoid social situations that have previously caused panic, worry, or social anxiousness. This avoidance has the side effect of resulting in isolation, thereby increasing the social anxiety further.
Mismanaged anxiety can easily result in an overactive mind and body. But by recognizing the physical sensations, mental patterns, and behaviors that accompany anxiety, you can better tolerate and even ride with the experience. With the right skills—and practice—you can have peace with the entire cycle of these uncomfortable experiences. You can learn how to calm your mind and body more easily. At Stress Less Workshops, we do this by “Using Your Brain to Change Your Brain.”
Stress vs. anxiety
At Stress Less Workshops, we view stress as having a traceable cause, such as a job loss, looming deadline, newborn child, etc. These outside stressors can be clearly recognized and therefore prioritized and handled one at a time. Anxiety, on the other hand carries a more generalized sense of tension in the mind and body—often without a clear or reasonable cause. This tension can prevent a person from being fully present in their life. On top of that, those who experience anxiety often develop the added worry (anxiety!) about having yet another anxiety attack—again, often without a clear indication as to how to resolve it. If left unchecked, they may find themselves constantly on high alert in anticipation of a visit from the anxiety monster, ultimately feeling helpless about their stressful condition. The key is to break the cycle that perpetuates the stress response in your body and mind.
Emotional thoughts start in the brain. The body is notified of these thoughts and the mind goes into gear to solve the stress or “problem” presented. Managing stress and anxiety starts with a new thought process. You brain is a powerful and highly adaptable organ, and at Stress Less Workshops we take advantage of the most cutting edge research available to teach you how to change your brain—to actually change the neural pathways you use to think and respond. Pretty cool, huh? In just 4 weeks, the Stress Less Workshops core curriculum can help you change your relationship with stress and anxiety. Check out this email I received from a Stress Less Workshops participant:
I had a deadline to meet with a client project and I always depend on my assistant to help me get to the finish line on time. We traditionally run behind and stay late many nights and push thru to meet the deadlines. This particular project had many surprises and my trustworthy assistant had to go take care of a sick child at the 9th hour.Before the Stress Less Workshops program I would have had a fit, told her to bring her child to work or insist that she get a babysitter to take over. I needed her THERE! Thanks to the skills I learned from Stress Less Workshops, I found myself having a different experience. When presented with the news, I found myself automatically taking a deep breath and calming my body (and therefore my mind). With this breathing break that I learned about, I had the presence of mind to think of another solution to my impending deadline.The answer was clear, my assistant was going home to take care of her family and I asked her who on the staff she would recommend to help us finish the project. She came up with a perfect team member—one who I didn’t even know could do the work I needed.In the end, I had a happy assistant, a new team member to help bring projects to deadlines with more room to spare, and a happy client. Oh, by the way I got home at a decent hour to be with my own family and got a good night sleep, helping me give a relaxed professional presentation.Yes, I did get the account!
How many situations like that do you experience in your everyday personal and professional life? How would it change your life if you could handle these stressful situations with such grace and calm? As we saw in the story above, there is something calming and confidence building in Stress Less Workshops. The Stress Less Workshops program is a private, focused, and elegant solution to diffusing the distractions and worries in your mind. Want a change in your life? Use your brain to change your brain. Enroll in one of our virtual or on-site programs today.
“You can’t stop the waves, but you can learn to surf”
–Jon Kabat-Zinn, founder of Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction