Does your brain regularly stall you out in stress responses that wreck your sense of joy, flow, creativity, and connection in a day? And do you know that don't want to be having these reactions, but find yourself caught in the familiar old stress cycles you know so well, no matter what you tell yourself?
I know as an early stage entrepreneur in a world filled with intensity and instability and lots of good opening up in my life, I'm experiencing lots of this. Just this weekend, I found myself mired in a familiar depression. One that kept me unmotivated and reminded me I should probably just bail on my plans because I didn't feel like going for them since they were certainly going to fail. The sadness seemed stalled over my life like a huge hurricane hitting land.
For many of us, anxious & depressive brain states can consume our energy, making it hard to have as much left to live our fullest life. And when this happens, our lives start to feel like a constant reaction to stress: spinning on the insecurity we feel, judging ourselves for feeling insecure, fighting to change things we dislike that don't give much back to us, scrambling to solve the endless problems in the world, filling our days by responding to whatever is in front of us, trying to prove the value of who we are to others by overfunctioning, letting interpersonal snarls spin us out hours after they happen, etc.
Just last night I remembered again the power of these simple approaches to shift my brain out of stalled out stress and back into creativity and flow:
- Asking myself: How do I want to feel right now? Seems pretty simple. But when my brain is spinning on something that's upset me, it can be a super helpful question. (Though not always! Only true if I can hold this question with compassion and a sense of I'm not trying to change my broken self.) Often, the answer to this question might be something like "I want to feel grateful! Grateful that I honored my boundaries and didn't get into a sticky conversation with that person. And I want to feel free to go on with my day rather than carrying that interaction with me for the rest of the day." Each time my brain is tempted to resume its stressful spinning and fretting over the unpleasantness of what just happened, I revisit this question. This gives my energy something else to do and focus on than the stress (which is over and no longer requires my attention). Which is especially good for those of us with highly sensitive and neurodivergent brains that do hyperfocus REALLY well.
- Being with the physical sensation of the stress response. This may sound quite unpleasant if you've not tried it before. But I've found it to be a huge relief. Stress, anxiety, and depression are all just forms of pain (whether caused by biological, psychological, or social factors). And mostly, we dislike feeling pain as humans. But resisting pain only makes it worse. So, if we can learn to feel how stress is showing up in our body instead of following it around in our mind with endless ruminating and machinations, feeling the physical sensation of how stress is showing up in our body can be a surprisingly fast way of disrupting the endless, exhausting cycle. Here are 2 wonderful links for practicing compassionately learning to feel pain physically instead of trying to think your way out of it: Curable Health app (look for the Somatic Tracking brain training) and 5 minute self-compassion break by Kristen Neff.
- Taking the dramatic description of how the stress or pain is feeling and turning it into something that doesn't fuel more catastrophizing and inner drama. Instead of: This sadness feels like its strangling me. It will probably never go away. And I'll be sad forever. FOREVER. What the heck is wrong with me? Why can't I get rid of this? Obviously this inner narrative stokes the flames of my brain's fear response. You can imagine how our nervous system would likely respond to the image of being strangled. YIKES! So, instead you can swap out these dramatic, catastrophic stories for ones that help to soothe the nervous system. Something like: This feeling isn't quite as peaceful as I'd like it to be. Just by saying the word peaceful instead of the words sadness and strangle. I can feel my body relax a bit. And as it does, the depression and sadness that had been stalled out lift and shift. I'm no longer fueling them with my fear train brain. And I'm offering something else to focus on in place of the stress.
- Listen, move, & sing to beautiful music. Seriously. Enough said. :) Here's a Spotify playlist of some songs I've been compiling over the last few months. The ones at the bottom are the most recent: https://open.spotify.com/playlist/3kAw75bbxC8sqCAEEI85N9?si=342a529eb83f49a3
I know many of us are facing considerable intensity in life at the moment. And that this is a moment of significant transition. The old is falling away. The new is beginning to take form. But we can't really see what's taking shape yet. Instead, it's like we're a boat sailing on stormy seas. One moment we're at the top of the wave and catch a quick view of the horizon, the next we're racing towards the trough where we're surrounded by crashing waves and rushing water. I don't know about you, but in seas like these, I want my boat to have a rudder and a compass with a bearing I'm generally moving towards. Without these, it's too easy for me to be buried in fretting.
That's why I created the Live Your Wildly Beautiful Life experience for womxn. I wanted to design a simple system that meant no matter what we face in life, we can find our way out of stress as the driver of our life and hold a larger vision of what we want and sense is possible (which is an amazingly powerful stabilizer in times when the old is falling away and we are stumbling in the dark to create what's next). I wanted to create simple, fool proof (bc my brain is VERY good at following and falling into stress responses), and powerful approach to keep us moving forward and connected with who we are and what we love even in the most intensely challenging times.
If you'd love to experience more joy, creativity & connection even in the midst of these intense and uncertain times. And if you'd love to feel confident living into a life you love one imperfect experience and step at a time. And if you sense you have more creativity to bring to your life and the world please consider joining us for the 8-week women's experience starting on October 12.