In 2012 I did this!

It was all part of being REAL (my word of that year), and facing your fears. I was scared shitless, but did it anyway.
Tackling my fears usually involves more or less adrenaline. Because it means stepping out of my comfort zone. And this was a BIG step out of a plane! Argh!
I was recently in a telco with a colleague of mine, talking about the ‘shit’ that was going on in our respective jobs. When she thanked me for the chat because it had brought her adrenaline level down. So today’s topic is about our rollercoaster lives, stress moments, adrenaline levels and how to get back down from them and find our calm.

What to do when you need to calm down

Overfull agendas. Demanding jobs. Juggling work and family. Problems being offloaded on us both professionally and privately.
Our lives, especially as women, are full of stressful situations. Our adrenaline levels soar on a regular basis.

Adrenaline is quite useful. 
Our caveman forefathers found it helpful in the fight or flight response (as in: do I try to kill this mammoth so that I can eat it, or do I run from it because it will trample me to death?).
My son has a nut allergy and carries an adrenaline injection pen with him everywhere just in case he inadvertently eats something peanutty and his body shuts down.
In our modern days, there are less fight or flight situations, but adrenaline gives us additional energy, it makes our whole body alert.
And that can come in handy in many situations.

Too much is not good
Very often however, those adrenaline producing stress situations never or rarely cease. We live in a constant ‘high’. Some people are adrenaline junkies: they love to self-induce the flight or fight response by intentionally engaging in stressful or risky behavior which causes adrenaline to be released (think about people doing extreme sports for example).
Too much stress however ‘halts or slows down various processes such as sexual responses and digestive systems to focus on the stressor situation and typically causes negative effects like constipation, anorexia (…). Prolonged stress resposes may result in chronic suppression of the immune system, leaving the body open to infections’ (Wikipedia).
So basically, too much stress makes you frigid and constipated! Ugh!

How to calm down instantly:

  1. Take a walk or jog.
    I go running 2-3 times a week during lunch break. It not only empties the mind, it also shakes out all the physical ‘stuckness’. And it gives renewed energy to tackle the afternoon.
  2. Drink green tea.
    Studies show that green tea reduces stress. You do have to drink quite a bit of it, so I suggest you make a whole thermos and have it ready at your desk.
  3. Do the ‘Lion’s breath.
    It’s a yoga thing, yes, but no need to get a mat and contort your body. Lion’s breath is easy, fast, can be done anywhere and it’s funny as hell.
    Here’s a video that shows you how.
  4. Visualization.
    When I can, I light a candle and just watch its flame for a few minutes. Instantly soothing.
    Now I agree that might be looked at funny at work…or even get the sprinklers going. When I don’t have a candle handy, I try to retreat, either physically into a quiet space or by just closing my eyes. I focus on my breathing to make it slow down. With closed eyes I travel to my happy spot, an image/situation that makes me extremely happy and calm. Find such an image for you (lounging on the beach, sitting in your garden, holding your baby…) and travel there in moments of stress. Stay there for a few minutes.
  5. Whistle, sing, laugh.
    This tip is again turning to a physical outlet. Whistling, singing or laughing tunes you into music, into the right side of your brain. Music is soothing. It puts you instantly in a different situation, a happy memory.
  6. Ask some questions.
    Question the thoughts that are in your head. Check out Byron Katie’s The All stress other than immediate physical stress is associated with a thought that something or someone should be different. Ask ‘is this true?’ ‘Who would I be without this thought?’

Additional reading:
On tackling your fears: My Year with Eleanor
For some hilarious laugh out loud reading: Let’s preted this never happened