Combating Stress and Dysregulation
These last few months dealing with Covid-19 has been incredibly stressful. It is important during stressful times to provide ourselves with extra care. When we experience stress, we regress. We can easily become dysregulated or disconnected from our bodies. When we become dysregulated, we can move to a state of hyperarousal or hypoarousal. When we are in hyperarousal our energy increases, we often feel anxious and hypoarousal leads to shutting down or numbing. When we are in these states we are not able to function effectively or relate well with others.
There are three major areas of our lives to focus on when caring for ourselves during stressful times.
What would make your environment feel safer?
One way to combat stress is to create a comfortable and safe environment. Creating a routine helps foster safety because it provides predictability. When our brain senses unknowns it triggers anxiety. primary threats the brain is looking for, the unknown.
We all have control over what we allow into our lives. If there are certain things that are adding to your stress you can set up a boundary so to do not have to encounter it. For example, if you feel bombarded with Covid-19 related posts on Instagram it may be helpful to limit the amount of time you spend on social media.
Creating a comfortable environment with pleasant smells, cozy blankets and soft music will help reduce stress. What is comforting for you?
What does your body need?
When we are stressed or dysregulated it is important to stay connected to our bodies. Movement, breathing and cold are very helpful ways to take care of your body and stay connected to them.
It is important to move when you are stressed because it helps reduce stress. When we feel exhausted it is easy to want to shut down but gentle movement will help you feel more connected to your body and provide more energy. Movement does not need to be intense exercise but gentle movement such as stretching, dancing and walking.
Breathing is such a helpful way to stay connected with our bodies. Mindful deep breathing helps us to reduce stress because it helps us to activate our parasympathetic nervous system our rest system. Simply take a deep breath, imagine you are inflating a balloon in your belly and then exhale slowly. Try make the exhale longer than the inhale.
Cold temperatures relaxes the stress response. Taking cold showers, sipping ice water, gargling cold water and slashing cold water on your face from the chin up will all help slow down the stress response.
Singing and Laughing
Singing and Laughing help reduce stress and bring us joy. When you are feeling really overwhelmed put on your favorite song and sing or find a YouTube video that always makes you laugh.
What does your brain need?
A huge way to reduce stress is our mind set changing how we view ourselves and our situation.
Taking time to be grateful even for the smallest things will foster a positive mindset.
Dancing, laugher and singing all reduce stress.
Explore the shoulds or the expectations you are placing on yourself or others. Are they helpful? Are there ways to foster more compassion for yourself when these are not met?
Investing and connecting in your community even though it looks different right now will help reduce your stress levels.