Stress and Fear resilience
Step By Step Guide:
As many of you know, I’ve been involved in a lot of humanitarian missions after major disasters. I have very clear memories of how stressful it was a week after the Sri Lankan Tsunami. There were a few reasons for this, that where not only related to the devastation and illness. One day when giving vaccinations against waterborne illness, I heard the sea coming in and almost had a panic attack. This was bizarre, as at home I’m on the beach every week and I’m not afraid of waves. This shows the extent that fear can be infectious – I was picking up emotions from others.
For now, I’m going to give you a few personal examples of how I deal with these things in the hope that it may help you. IN SARS in Hong Kong it was similar, and also in Tacloban, worst storm ever in the Philipines. Tacloban Video
Monday, feeling the tension arising mid afternoon I decided to go to my gym. I heard unpleasant shouting on Queens Road and it was beginning to make me feel anxious.
FIRST – Notice your feelings because then you may be able to do something about reversing them. Without awareness you can’t help yourself.
Exercise is a great antidote to stress, anxiety or tension. It reverses the fight and flight responses in a body such as muscle contraction. increasing blood flow to the body and brain is the natural way to metabolise and discharge stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol.
Outside, there appeared to be people who are very angry pulling up paving stones outside the office. I went out the back door, and avoided the nasty area by walking up the hill to go down another street…
Remember you can usually go a different route.
In the gym I tend to entertain myself by watching TV. In this instance it was CNN and I saw someone in Hong Kong getting shot. This immediately elevated my stress hormones. Another woman got agitated speaking about her feelings that morning – she began to make me feel more stressed.
Live in your ‘happy bubble’ :
Another lesson. Learn to live in your own personal sphere of contentment. Watching it on TV, reading news, and talking to colleagues and friends about the stress of the situation will only magnify it for you.
“OK”, you may say, “But I do need news about which areas to avoid, which MTR to take”. Well basic news, yes, but I think we all accept that we get more involved than this!
Reverse the body stress biology
By doing these simple exercises:
Breathing To Calm
Part of our body’s stress response is making us take quick superficial breaths. What happens here is we alter our lung physiology so that we become used to the imbalance. Unfortunately the alteration in oxygen and CO2 in the long lead to numerous side-effects that make us feel really bad.
The good news – this can be reversed!
Please spend a full five minutes on this exercise, either lying down flat or sitting up. Always breathe through the nose.
By putting a hand on your belly, be sure that when you breathe out, your stomach is being squeezed in with your bellybutton moving towards spine.
Breathe in slowly to the count of 4 and breathe out to the count of 6, if it feels comfortable, to 8. The point is you will be continuing this for 5 minutes without altering the rhythm so make sure it’s something you can stick to.
If possible it will be much more effective with your eyes closed.
This will alter your lung physiology and therefore also your blood physiology and of course that is going to the brain.
I don’t need to use any words here because it will be immediately obvious to you how you feel afterwards.
Do this five minutes, three times a day
In the next article there will be more exercises.