Out of control? Answers and solutions for stressful situations

Whether at home or at work, it is important to recognize that both fear and conflict change the chemistry of the brain and also change how we feel, behave and perceive others.

Got stress? New BMW CEO collapses on stage in Frankfurt motor show 2015. He should have read this article. (Screen capture from YouTube video)

WASHINGTON, Sept. 16, 2015 – It is so easy to say to someone, “feel calm, handle situations constructively and with ease.” That does not feel like a big order to fill when we are not all charged up and ready to go. But what about when we (and our feelings) are triggered, angry or upset? How do you react to difficult people or negative situations at work or personally? How do you not let things adversely affect you?

Today, people are stressed out. Every day, we witness too many aggressive situations. I am on the road an average amount of time, and I frequently witness some form of aggression en route, such as incidents of road-rage, or interactions where people are not being respectful to one another.

Unfortunately, I am sure you know what I am speaking about. If we lose it ourselves, we end of feeling negative and self-critical, which does not help matters either.

What would benefit us, however, is changing our behavior. We cannot control how others act, but we can control our own behavior. It is important to recognize that both fear and conflict change the chemistry of the brain and also change how we feel, behave and perceive others.

Understanding how our brain works may be helpful. Simply put, we have a primitive part of our brain that is hardwired to protect us and ensure our survival. That system worked well in caveman days because a heightened awareness of threatening situations often saved us from being eaten by that tiger. Today we won’t get eaten by the tiger. But our brains still want to protect us from predators.

We automatically go into a flight or fight response when we are stressed, as our body naturally releases the stress hormone cortisol, which drives that reaction. Knowing this simple fact is extremely important because we can use that knowledge to nurture nature. In other words, we can rewire our brains due to a process known as neuroplasticity.

For that reason, when we find we are stressed, we can take actually take more control over our visceral “fight or flight” reactions. We can quiet down the amygdala, the small part of our brain that sends out the “danger, danger” message. We can consciously choose to calm down. When we do this repeatedly, we begin to form a new behavior and pattern that can effectively overcome our automatic pre-programming so that we do not instantly go into that chaotic mode our original programming dictates. Once we’ve mastered this new behavior, we find we are then better able to create and control more positive, productive reactions to stressful situations.

Here are three strategies that can help us do just that:

  • Build Your Self-Awareness. Develop your self-awareness so that you can more readily control your reactions and behaviors. You cannot make a change unless you build your self-awareness. Get to know yourself better!
  • Pay Attention to Signals Your Body Sends You. Notice where you feel things in your body. Your mind can tell you anything, but your body does not lie. When you are stressed, where do you feel it in your body? Do you feel a tightness in your chest? Get a tension headache? What about a “kicked in the stomach” feeling? Everyone is different and feels stress in different parts of his or her body. The next time you are stressed, be aware of where you feel that stress. Your body is signaling you. Notice the signal and be alert for it so you can change your reaction and behavior to make it more positive and productive.
  • Take a Few Long Deep Breaths. Sound trite? It is not. Breathing exercises are important for your health and de-stressing process. Every time you exhale you are getting rid of toxins in your body. Simply breathe in and hold it for approximately seven seconds. Then release. Repeat this several times. Doing this will automatically begin to ground you. Better yet, with this simple technique, you can de-stress anywhere: sitting in your car in traffic, behind a desk, or even just waiting in line.


For more Information Contact:

Susan Commander Samakow, PCC, CPCC
Certified Business, Life & Leadership Coach
Focusing on Confidence & Resilience Strategies, Life & Career Transition, & Business & Leadership

Certified Mediator

www.selftalkcoach.com         [email protected]

Twitter: @SelfTalkCoach
301-706-7226 & 703-574-0039

Ask Susan about the Stress Reducing techniques she teaches: EFT (Tapping) and Breathing Exercises.

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