STRESS, OVERWHELM, and …SKYDIVING?
By Coach Kat, Mar. 3, 2023, copyright Bronwyn Katdaré 2023
Imagine this: you’re tossing and turning for most of the night, your mind racing about all of the things you have to do tomorrow and all of the things you completed today. You’re doing this while your partner snoozes away. That’s irritating – how dare your partner sleep while you’re wired and tired, staring at the ceiling!
The alarm goes off just as you start to doze. You’re exhausted, have a headache, and are swearing under your breath. Your partner decides to make a romantic advance and you rebuff it with an angry outburst as you drag your ass out of bed. You aren’t hungry so you skip breakfast and shift into high gear with some caffeine. Maybe you get the kids to school or get yourself to work. You’re in traffic, feeling restless and irritable. You still have a headache and now your back aches. You get to work and your boss is acting like a jerk. Coworkers ask you to lunch and you decline because you have too much to do. You’ve been working on a project and not getting much done. It feels like you’re in a fog – you’ve been staring at the wall - and can’t concentrate on anything. Your stomach starts to get upset from the anxiety.
You sit in your car after work and cry. It all just seems like too much. You return home, still fatigued, still pushing through your day. You sit down with some pizza your partner picked up on the way home. You’re still hungry so you have some crackers and peanut butter. The dog needs to go for a walk but you’re just_so_tired. Then you sit to watch a movie and eat some ice cream.
Does any of this sound familiar?
This story illustrates many of the ways stress symptoms show up physically, emotionally, mentally, and behaviorally.
Stress is the gap between demands (perceived or real) and capacity (perceived or real). When demands exceed capacity, stress is initiated through physical, emotional, mental, spiritual, and social lenses. Said another way, stress is the physical or mental response to an external cause. A stressor may be a one-time or short-term occurrence (acute) or it can happen repeatedly over a long time (chronic). Your "Stress Signature" is how stress shows up through signs and symptoms. Symptoms are a message for you to make an adjustment. Part of your stress signature could be in the form of anxiety (there is a distinction between stress and anxiety, and you can have BOTH): Anxiety is your body's reaction to stress and can occur even if there is no current threat.
What happens to the body during stress?
The body’s autonomic nervous system controls your heart rate, breathing, vision changes and more. It controls all of the things you do that you don’t have to consciously think about doing. Its built-in stress response, “fight-or-flight,” helps the body face stressful situations. When a person has long-term (chronic) stress, continued activation of the stress response causes wear and tear on the body. Symptoms develop because your body, under constant stress, cannot turn off “fight-or-flight” even when there is no threat. Our bodies are not designed to do this. Our bodies are designed to respond to the threat in the short term and then go back to the “rest-digest-relax-heal” state. Under chronic stress, you could experience problems with sleeping, muscle tension or pain, high blood pressure, weight issues, decreased concentration, or memory issues. You may find difficulties in the immune, digestive, cardiovascular, and reproductive systems. You also may also be at higher risk for developing a variety of mental illnesses, including anxiety disorders or depression.
Stress is subjective. Stress does not only come from the external environment; stress can come from our internal reactions, behaviors, and perceptions, as well. For instance, how many of you are or know those with perfectionist tendencies or control issues?
Let me tell you a true story.
Did you know that I went skydiving on a whim, but in the background of my mind it was to overcome my fear of...not heights...spiraling out of control in a freefall. That's right! It's very specific because I used to hold on SO DAMN TIGHT to CONTROL EVERYTHING!
That's why skydiving worked for me. I only had control of my body position. As it came my turn to jump, I told my instructor that I really didn't want to jump. He ignored this and hooked us together.
I told him that I don't have any control and he said to leave it to him. Are you freaking kidding??!!
I was sweating, adrenaline pumping, and my head spinning. There was a storm on the horizon and we even saw some lightning in the distance.
We got to the door and I said let's not...and he jumped, taking me with him. I screamed and screamed and screamed! Terrified!
Then I realized I was screaming into the wind and nothing I was doing was going to change that I was falling from the sky. I might as well enjoy the sights on the way down. That was my turning point, the relinquishing of control, the release of stuck emotion, the serenity followed by an incredible endorphin rush! I accepted that I couldn’t control everything and the payoff was HUGE in the change of my mental and emotional state, and it stuck with me.
This is actually part of the reason why I became a coach and healer. I see friends, family, society, and clients under so much stress and pressure - and holding onto so much crap and trying to control everything so perfectly. Today, women are so stressed out, burned out, and overwhelmed from both external and internal stressors. In my work, I teach them how amazing it is to release all of that and restore their health - body, mind, and soul! They know that by following my protocols and programs, they are taking the next steps to sleep better, soothe inflammation and premature aging, and reclaiming peace and empowerment.
In the meantime, here are some activities you can try when you start to feel overwhelmed:
Keep a journal – write stuff down and get it out of your head
Download an app - like Aura - that provides relaxation exercises, meditation, mindfulness, movement, and more
Exercise and make sure you are eating nutrient-dense foods
Stick to a sleep routine and make sure you get quality sleep
Ditch caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine because you are pouring fuel on the fire
Identify and challenge your negative and unhelpful thoughts
Reach out to a qualified coach – like me – who can guide you through ways to positively deal with your stressors before they become symptoms (or reverse the symptoms by dealing with the stress)
Again, schedule a Calm the Chaos Clarity Consult with me to Ditch the Distress and Turn Your Symptoms into Peace, Harmony, and Effervescent Health!
(Bronwyn Katdaré is a certified Hypnotherapist, Integrative Holistic Health Coach, and Jungian Soul-Centered Life Coach. She incorporates Shamanic healing, Reiki, Akashic Records, and Kundalini Awakening Yoga into her coaching and healing practices).