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Get yourself a snack...and take a break from stress.

Updated: Nov 26, 2023

a plate of meat, cheeses, grapes, and crackers.

Disclaimer: The content of this blog post is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Consult a qualified healthcare professional for personalized advice.

Your nervous system needs a break from the stress of life sometimes.

By learning about stress, expecting it to show up and being prepared to deal with it, you can give your nervous system a break and feel ready to deal with the challenging parts of life.

Here are some techniques you can try:

Check In with Yourself.

Do you notice tension in muscles or behind your eyes? What about your energy and mood: Are you feeling on edge? Irritable? Snappy? Wanting to pull the covers over your head? Do you feel compelled to have a drink so that you can relax? What are the quality of your thoughts? These are cues that your nervous system is trying to help you cope with whatever is going on. Don't ignore these calls to pay attention to yourself.

Be conscientious.

Whether it is out of obligation, because you like helping others, or you are scared the other person will be upset, sometimes a "Yes" answer comes without stopping to think about it, which often leads to frustration, resentment, and an overinflated sense of responsibility for others. Often, people don't have the phrases to use and then feel awkward when asked, so they just end up saying "Yes" and taking on a commitment hey didn't want in the first place!

Try an experiment... prepare 2 phrases you are going to use when someone asks you to do something and see if it gets easier over a few weeks. Here are some ideas:

  • "Thank you for thinking of me. I cannot commit to that right now. I will get back to you by the end of the day."

  • "I would really like to but I have to say No this time. Please ask me again."

  • "I can't answer right now. Can I get back to you tomorrow morning?"

  • "That isn't going to work for me right now."

  • "No thank you."

  • "I have a full plate and can't take on anything extra right now."

Stay in the present.

When we are overwhelmed, our emotional mind tends to have us dwell on the past or worry about the future, so one way to relax is by focusing on what's happening right now. This can be helpful for people who tend to fixate on their symptoms (e.g., "I'm having trouble breathing! I just can't stop overthinking!). In addition, staying in the moment has been shown to reduce stress levels and improve overall well-being. One of the easiest ways to stay in the present moment is to use your senses: sight, sound, smell, taste or touch. You can do this at anytime during your day - for 10 seconds or longer. Using your senses in this way send information to your nervous system that you are okay!

  • Progressive muscle relaxation technique (PMR). PMR involves tensing and relaxing specific muscles across various parts of your body until you feel more relaxed overall—it's sort of like yoga for your body! If that doesn't work for you, try deep breathing exercises instead: sit upright with feet flat on floor; close eyes; place hands palms up at sides with fingers spread slightly apart; inhale deeply through nose while counting slowly up from 1 with each inhalation ("one," "two," etc.), then exhale while counting down slowly from 9 back down again ("nine," "eight"). Repeat twice daily until your breathing becomes comfortable enough not only during practice but also throughout day-to-day activities such as sitting at desk or driving car (make sure air vents are set high enough so they're blowing onto nose rather than mouth).

Roll out the welcome mat.

Recognize emotions as they show up, rather than shoving them away is one of the ways to take care of the nervous system. The easiest place to start is to get curious about the emotion.

  • Which emotion is it?

  • Name it.

  • Where is it in your body?

  • How much space is it taking up?

  • Does it have a colour? A shape? Is it moving?

  • What do you notice? And what do you notice next?

So...get yourself a snack and tell me, what strategies do you use to give yourself a break?

Thanks for being here,

Rolynda Simpson. M.Ed, CCC

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