Guest Post Written By Rupina Meer
I ran into a friend and just stopped by to ask how she was doing. She looked up and whimpered: “I’m so crazy busy in spite of this pandemic.” The same day, I ran into a former colleague and asked her how she was doing. Again, same tone, same response: “I’m just so busy.” The tone was exacerbated, even overwhelmed.
Many of my clients deliberately engineer their lives to run from task to task on that hamster wheel of activity so they don’t have to pause to examine the truth of what they’re running from…like a flailing marriage or not spending enough time with ageing parents. Can you relate? What truths would you have to face that you can effectively avoid facing when you are so busy? In Daring Greatly, Brené Brown exposes this tendency by saying, “One of the most universal numbing strategies is what I call crazy-busy. I often say that when they start having 12-step meetings for busy-aholics, they’ll need to rent out football stadiums. We are a culture of people who’ve bought into the idea that if we stay busy enough, the truth of our lives won’t catch up with us.”
This addiction to stress from the busyness (and let’s call it what it is) is just as much of addiction and can be as challenging to stop as other addictions like alcohol, online shopping, or working because it is a way to escape or numb yourself. But, unlike other addictions, our society puts a high value on being busy. We are conditioned to believe that being busy equates to being successful and worthy, so we wear our stress as a badge of honour.
But as we approach our 40s and 50s, the demands we continue to place on ourselves are not in line with our changing hormones. And burning the candle at both ends, from the boardroom to the bedroom, comes at the cost of exhaustion, burn out or worse. In fact, 90 percent of women in my integrative practice confess that “stress is running the show…and I’m letting it.”
Or maybe you’re in denial and rolling your eyes thinking, “Yeah, yeah, but I don’t have a problem with stress.” Think again. You may have established a new “normal” for stress tolerance, but see if you can identify with the below telltale signs of high-stress overload:
As W. B Yeats once said, “It takes more courage to examine the dark corners of your own soul than it does for a soldier to fight on a battlefield.”
How exactly are you supposed to examine the dark corners of your soul when you are so busy and rushing from task to task? Below are my top three unconventional solutions to tame your stress, so you can go from fried to revived:
HeartMath® is a scientifically validated system of technologies that helps you to transform your stress, build your resilience and boost your performance. If you have an iPhone, you can download an app called GPS for the Soul, created by the Huffington Post. Briefly, this app is based on the fact that the time between each beat of your heart varies according to emotional arousal, which is referred to as heart-rate variability. Loss of variability is a sign of waning adaptive suppleness –in other words, you’re a stress case and need to find your “pause button.” And you can simply follow one of their guides filled with beautiful imagery, affirmations and music to de-stress instantly and get your cortisol in that sweet spot.
If you’re thinking this sounds too woo-woo, studies have shown that just 4 weeks of HeartMath training can lower cortisol by 23 percent, and DHEA, (a performance-enhancing hormone often dubbed the fountain of youth) by 100%. Whoa! Olympian athletes know this secret that they can enhance their performance just by managing their stress. And we’re all Olympians in our own rights who can leverage this little know secret to enhance our performance in the game of life!
We all know that sleeping 8 hours per night can relieve stress, improve memory, mood and cognitive function, so you have more energy, feel happier, stay younger and even help with weight loss. But come bedtime, with our 24/7 technology, we’re often too busy banging out some work emails or watching Netflix on our laptops, tablets or smartphones and all these EMF emitting devices are disrupting our sleep. But how? The blue light emitted from these devices stimulates the pineal gland in the brain which thinks that it’s daytime and stops the production of melatonin, the hormone governing our circadian rhythms and the ability to fall asleep and stay asleep. Research has shown that it is the short-wavelength or “blue” light which is melatonin-suppressive. With disrupted sleep, our bodies are unable to repair properly from the day’s assault of stress so the damage accumulates and we start to feel achy, ill, foggy and old. But here’s what you can do to reduce your blue-light exposure and get some much-needed zzzzzs:
I saved the best for last! Studies now show that consuming 40 grams of dark chocolate (70% or higher cacao content) can actually lower your cortisol. I do this little meditative routine with my dark chocolate square where I eat just one piece consciously. I savour it with all my senses— I touch the piece, smell the aroma, let the sweet creaminess melt under my tongue, and really make this a sensual adventure.
In the old days, food was scarce and like gold. But now we have these gargantuan supermarkets brimming with so much abundance that we’ve lost the ability to savour food, and mindfully get pleasure from just one small nibble. But by slowing down, you’re speeding up your pleasure. It’s a pattern interrupt from eating on auto-pilot and shoving food into your mouth to savouring each morsel mindfully to flip on your parasympathetic nervous system and lower your stress.