Many women witness that throughout the last year they experienced a larger amount of stress than ever before.
Take my coaching client, Jana. A product manager in the banking industry who's been working from home since last year. As a single mom taking care of her four years old son, and seven years old daughter. In her country, the children have been at home since March 2020. Navigating a new mode of working together with home-schooling and the lack of ability to find quiet time alone in their small apartment created an additional amount of stress for her.
Jana's situation is not unique and in today's newsletter, I'd like to share the scientifically validated ways how to de-stress.
In the book Burnout: Solve Your Stress Cycle the twins Emily and Amelia Nagoski explain the importance to complete our stress cycle.
What is a stress cycle? It's the moment at which our bodies learn that, after facing danger, we are now safe. As they point out, if we do not complete the stress cycle, our bodies continue to release the stress hormone and we are constantly living in chronic stress activation which is not good for our body and it's dangerous for our health in the long term.
From their research, they suggest 7 evidence-based strategies to complete the stress cycle:
Literally, anything that moves our body (dancing, running, swimming...) is according to Nagoski the single most efficient strategy for completing the stress response cycle. Aim for 20 to 60 minutes a day.
Deep, slow breath down-regulates the stress response.
3. TALK TO PEOPLE 'Casual but friendly social interaction is the first external sign that world is a safe place,' say Nagoski.
4. LAUGH When we laugh, says neuroscientist Sophie Scott, we use 'an ancient evolutionary system that mammals have evolved to make and maintain social bonds and regulate emotion. She recommends practicing deep, belly laughs.
5. AFFECTION Connect and speak to some loving and beloved person who you like, respect, and trust. Physical affection such as a warm hug, in a safe and trusting context for 20 seconds is powerful as well. The research suggests a twenty-second hug can change your hormones, lower your blood pressure and heart rate, and improve mood.
6. CRY Crying makes us feel relieved from the weight of whatever made us cry. You may not have changed the situation that caused the stress, but you completed the cycle.
7. DO SOMETHING CREATIVE Engaging in creative activities including painting, sculpture, scrapbooking, etc. leads to more energy and enthusiasm. If you would like to offer yourself a creative self-care moment, but are lacking ideas my online course Creative Self-Care Pause contains 4 creative self-care assignments specifically designed for wonderful women like you.
Different strategies work better on different days. Experiment with some of them, then schedule it into your day. Thirty minutes of anything that works for you (exercise, drawing, affection...). Because you experience stress every day, you have to build completing the cycle into every day. Make it a priority, like your life depends on it. Because IT DOES.