Question: What do you first think about when you wake up?
Question: What do you think about as you’re drifting off to sleep at night?
Question: Are those answers often stressful thoughts?
Fact: What you think matters!
We all get stressed in life, especially when we have babies, toddlers or young people in the mix.
We’re all trying to provide, to earn a living so we tend to work a little too much maybe, at the same time many of us we have kids to take care of, then there’s ourselves to take care of, cleaning to do, bills to pay / life admin, commuting to and from places, food to prepare and hopefully some time for socialising, etc., etc. So I think there’s no denying we get stressed.
Although sometimes we get to a point where we just get used to being stressed all of the time and we start operating in a heightened state, it’s called ‘running on adrenalin’, and no it’s not just a saying…
It could be really damaging your health, which includes adding extra body fat around that belly, maybe leading to often getting sick, just about all the time causing digestive issues.
So, let’s unpack a little, really basic, science jargon about stress and we’ll see if I can offer some solutions to managing your stress better.
According to current science, us humans have been around for at least 150,000 years, and for probably at least 149,000 of those years humans did NOT have life admin to take care of!
The stress humans would go through would run something along the lines of – a physical threat to our lives, like being stoned to death or stabbed with a spear by another tribe member or maybe being eaten by something bigger and faster than us.
So, humans being a pretty evolved and adaptable species we have made some quite clever physiological/biochemical responses to stress that would help us survive. When there’s a physical threat to life our brain will very quickly respond by doing a couple of key things, your sympathetic nervous system quickly takes control and instructs your adrenal glands to produce Adrenalin and cortisol, so we basically can either freeze, flee or fight to survive. This basic human bodily response has been an automatic reaction to stress for ions of time because it’s what we’ve done to survive.
However, the human body still has not evolved to interpret the difference between modern-day mental stress, I.e. stressful life admin or work deadlines, compared to a very olden day, real physical threat to your life, type of stress.
It’s true! For example, the next time you’re running late because you’re baby has just done a giant poo in their nappy or your toddler is having their own version of getting ready, or anything along those lines, this is what’s likely to happen to you if you can’t manage your thoughts and stress levels.
- Your brain activity shifts from the logical decision making part of the brain to the reptile survival part, so good decisions tend to get hazy. Parents tend to be snap more at kids in this state of mind.
- Your digestive function is impaired because blood is directed away from the gut and to your arms and legs, so your ability to digest food gets worse.
- Another thing is, it’s impossible to access fat as a fuel source. Because cortisol pulls fast acting energy (glycogen/sugar) from their storage sites (muscles & liver) to be used for action, whereas the process of fatty acid breakdown is SLOW!
- You stop breathing properly, rather than breathing into your belly as we all should in a relaxed state, you start to take shallow breaths.
These things are all part of the sympathetic nervous system, which is fine when it happens occasionally, and absolutely essential for survival if you were actually faced with a life-threatening moment, but the thing is most people, especially Mums, are getting stressed way too often, every day, over stuff which does not deserve to be stressed over.
How do I know this, I work with Mums every day, have done for over a decade and I observe body language a lot! People carry stress in their body and on their face, so there’s no hiding chronic stress.
To be healthy, and I hate referring to weight loss but I will, to lose body fat, we must spend as much time in our parasympathetic nervous system mode as possible, where we can be rested and relaxed, our brain receives better blood flow and functions better, our digestive systems work optimally and we can access fat as a fuel source!
Here’s how you can to engage your parasympathetic nervous system and learn to bring your stress down in less than 20 seconds, it’s the simplest technique to what I do in my personal training classes.
Learn to breathe deeply! Ta daaaaa! Like I said in the last point when you stress you stop breathing properly until you calm down. But if you always stress you begin to learn to always breathe this way, then you become chronically stressed.
So, I want you to grab moments throughout your day to take 10 big long deep breaths through your nose, imagining the breath is passing all the way down through your lunges, filling up your belly and reaching your toes! Then breathing out through your mouth for as long as you possibly can until you’re gasping for your next breath in! You can be in any position, ideally in a position where your lungs are not being compressed too much I.e. slouching in a seat
This is the best and most efficient method of bringing stress levels down in an instant.
Now go do some breaths Mummas!
And if you like what I have to say, and you’re a local St George or Shire Mum living in Sydney, who would like to exercise you can get in touch via our Facebook Page or using the contact form in our Movement For Mumma’s section.