Stress is one of the big four things that we’ve got to get working. And of the Big 4 – it’s the most important. Why? Because if we’re stressed out our brain function Changes and we go into survival mode. There’s a couple of versions of survival mode, this fight and flight and then there’s freeze. In fight and flight, we get revved up and emotional and start acting in a way that can get us into trouble. In freeze mode, we shutdown and not a lot gets done or we don’t stick up for ourselves when we need to.
Either way, we’ve got this magnificent problem solving human brain and that goes offline when we’re overwhelmed with stress and in survival mode.
Science of Stress
We need to know how to manage our Stress because it has a powerful effect on how we think, behave and feel. Stress can be experienced as fear, anxiety or a general feeling of discomfort. It can hold us back from venturing into the world and doing things that interest us and connect us with other people -holding us back.
It’s important to learn how to manage our Stress so that we can push through our fear to learn new stuff and do interesting things. New experiences are how we grow in skill and confidence.
We think differently at different levels of stress because of how our brain is built.
We have a fear brain -our most primitive brain (lizard brain), which is concerned about our body regulation, breathing, hunger, hot or cold, safe or not safe.
Then we have our mammal brain (our dog brain), which is part of belonging to a pack. It deals with love, connection, protection and pecking order. It communicates using body language and behaviour.
Then we have our human brain -this is our logical, planning and talking brain. It allows us to share ideas about how to do things and the future. It also has judgment and engages in a shared culture.
When we are stressed, our human brain turns off. We are running on dog and lizard brain. This is a fast and reactive combination that is a kind of survival mode. It can keep us alive but also get us into trouble.
The world starts off a scary and threatening place and we need the protection of our family to survive and manage our stress. As we grow in skill and confidence we start to manage it by ourselves.
How to manage our Stress
With Tracking Better we learn to manage our Stress in 3 steps:
- Track Stress in ourselves
- Reset our Brain
- Do Better
1.Track our Stress
When I am Stressed I have to Track if I’ve crossed my Adrenaline Line. That means I’ve Cracked Up or Shut Down?
When we Crack Up our human brain turns off and we believe all our panic thinking -our Stinking Thinking.
When We’ve Cracked Up we can start to go into survival mode such as Fight or Flight.
We can also Shut Down, where our thinking can get scattered and our body has slowed down. The survival response here is a Freeze response.
Either way our thinking is not working.
We can also see Survival Behaviours (Fight Flight, Fawn or Freeze) that show we’ve feel threatened enough to go into survival mode.
The better we get at tracking the early, middle and late warning signs of crossing the Adrenaline Line, the more control we have and the easier it is to calm down.
2.Reset -Calm the Body to Calm the Mind
We calm the body to calm the mind. The first thing we do is slow deep breathing because often when we’re stressed we hyperventilate. This is like adding petrol to the panic fire.
Then we ground the body. This means that we help it feel safe and sound by calming it through the senses. To do this we have to feel safe so we can come out of survival mode.
There are 6 different senses we use but start with OMG that means the Orienting senses (seeing and hearing) then we use Movement, then onto Grasp, which really is touch. The other senses are taste and smell. Singing and dancing are a great way of mobilizing the senses all at once.
For a full on crack up it can take up to 20 minutes to calm the body. The earlier we Track a Crack Up or Shut down, the quicker and easier it is to calm the body.
3.Do Better using our Eagle Eye to challenge our Stinking Thinking and Problem Solve
Once we have got our head back together, our human brain is working again we can use our Eagle Eye to look at the big picture and challenge our Stinking Thinking.
We can also use it to problem solve, plan, for judgment and to communicate all our thoughts. This means that we can pick the best option for us and go out and Do Better.
This is how we heal, learn and grow in skill, by Doing Better!
Once you have learned to manage your Stress, use it to push back against it every day with Target Practice.