Put the brakes on stress reactions

When we’re dealing with stress-overload, it can feel like our bodies are stuck in fight-or-flight mode. Some signs of this are a racing pulse, high muscle tension (like when you’re about to do a sprint) or difficulty thinking clearly or controlling angry impulses. These exercises can help you put the brakes on. Even a short break can help you regain control and be kinder to yourself and others in stressful situations. Since it’s hard to remember to do this when we’re very stressed, it’s a good idea to share these strategies with others so you can do them together if one of you isn’t able to do it alone.

Drink a whole glass of water – this automatically calms the nervous system. Drinking water or other fluids activates your body’s “brakes” and chenges your breathing pattern. Cool fluid running down your throat can distract from angry or unpleasant sensations in the body. (Alcoholic beverages won’t have the same effect because they further reduce impuls control.)

Find a stable wall or doorframe and use all of your strength to push angainst it. Notice your muscles and how strong you are. What do you notice when you release the pressure? You can also do this with another person!

This exercise helps release tension and stress. It can help when you feel like you’re loosng control (calming down), or when you feel exhausted and heavy (energizing). Activating your body’s largest muscles can help your nervous system process stress hormones!

Lean your back against a wall and try to press your weight against it as long as possible. What do you notice when you release and stand up straight again?

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