Winding Down From 2020: Stress Management and Well-being

18 December 2020

2020 has been a whirlwind of new unknowns. As a result of all of the upheaval caused to your day-to-day life this year, it would be normal for you to have experienced a greater level of stress.

It is not healthy, on a physiological or psychological level, to prolong a state of stress and that has far-reaching consequences for you and your endeavours.

In this video, I explain some of the effects stress has on the body and walk you through some simple techniques and tips that I hope will help you to overcome stress in the future.

If you would like to hear more about this please feel free to get in touch below.

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Prefer to read rather than watch and listen? No problem – here’s everything I said in the video as text: 

As we end the year, many themes are emerging. However, there is one thing, which is very common across many people. It is stress.

This year has been very stressful, with things that have been unexpected, unpredictable, facing us and forcing us to make decisions. It is bound to cause stress.

I am sure you’re looking forward to putting your feet up, relaxing, taking some time out and getting ready for the next year. But the point is, that even in the next year, or the year after that, whilst we are living and breathing, stress is bound to happen.

There will be situations, which we are not prepared for and that seem life-threatening, which seem business threatening and therefore the question is:

What can you do, to manage this stress?
What can you do to be in the state of well-being and balance?

Today I am going to talk to you about two simple techniques, which can help you with the state of well-being and manage your stress better.

Before I do that, I want to talk a little bit more about what stress is, why it happens and what it does to our body, so you know why those techniques are actually going to be effective.

Going back to the fundamentals, the first thing that you need to understand is that:

Your brain is not designed to make you successful. It is not designed to make you richer, or happy.
It is designed to protect you, to ensure that you are safe.

Go 5,000 years, where you are in your cave, you go out and you see this bear. It’s about to attack you. The brain will react in three possible ways:

Fight.
Flight.
Freeze.

It is also going to get your body ready for that state. What happened 5,000 years ago is not indifferent to what happens today. No bear is attacking but there are other things, which are happening in your life, in your business and are perceived by your brain as that threat to your life. It responds in a very similar fashion and gets your body prepared.

As soon as the brain perceives a threat to you, the blood starts moving from your stomach to your shoulders, because it wants to get it ready to fight. It starts moving to your thighs because you might potentially want to flight as well, run.

As that happens, you need to also understand that certain chemicals are getting produced.

There are two main chemicals.

One is adrenaline. Adrenaline is all about giving energy to your body. It is getting ready for the action.

The second one is cortisol. Cortisol is preparing your body by thickening your blood and making it stickier.

You can imagine, why that would be happening. In case the bear decides to swipe at you, and you start bleeding. It wants to reduce the flow of blood.

These days, there is no strike or attack happening at a physical level but the cortisol is still being produced and your blood is getting thick and sticky.

Blood is flowing to the shoulders and the thighs. The sticky, thick blood is forming, cortisol is forming and you feel pain in your shoulders. There’s a restriction in your movement, you feel pain in your neck. Those are clear signs, that your body is under stress and cortisol is being produced at a good, rapid rate, because the brain is preparing your body to fight, flight or just freeze in shock.

The other thing is that, as the blood flows out to other parts of the body, digestion get impacted. Your bowel movements get impacted, which impacts many other things. Your whole physiology gets put under pressure. That is why health problems start arising.

Along with this, there is something else that’s happening to the brain and this is quite fascinating.

When the brain perceives stress or a threat, IQ drops by 20 points.

That is substantial. Basically, stress makes you stupid.

If we take a standardized IQ of 100, which is the average IQ, a 20 point drop makes it 80, which is classified as having a disability of learning.

If you’re classified in that section of learning disability, what is your state and how capable you are in that state to make those critical decisions for your business?

Not just that, the brain stops thinking in grey forms, or probabilities, it goes black or white. In that moment of threat, your brain is not going to think and reflect or introspect, it needs to react, it needs to take action. There is no empathy, there is no probability, it is just black and white.

When you think about what is happening at a physiological level, what is happening at an IQ level and how the brain is thinking, in very black and white terms, what is the impact that it’s having on your life and business decisions?

Another important thing here is that when the body is under stress, you are in your survival mode. You want to react. Your prefrontal cortex is not being utilized properly. You are either in fight, flight or freeze mode. And then there is another side.

One is survival and the other side is your competency mode.

Competency mode is where the prefrontal cortex is working. You are relaxed, you are introspective, you are reflective, you’re thinking, you’re evaluating, you’re understanding what might happen.

The first thing is that, as you become aware of these symptoms in your body, you can identify where you are edging towards.

Are you in survival mode or competency mode?

If you recognise that you are actually edging towards survival mode, what can you do about it?’

Here we talk about two things. One thing, you cannot do just at that moment most of the time, because there is a structure and routine to it.

The first one is exercise.

I’m sure you’ve heard of it, the importance of exercise. It releases such good hormones, you feel in such a good state. Let’s link it back to what I’ve just talked about.

Remember cortisol forming? Your blood thickening and your blood flowing, thighs, shoulders. Your body wants to move, it wants to release it, wants to let it out.

If you just keep sitting and not doing much, in front of your computer, it is just piling up. That is what gives you this whole burden-bearing shoulders.

But if you do an intensive 20-minutes of exercise, not hours, just a 20-minute intensive exercise, that actually helps the release of these chemicals and the body gets the message, action has been taken, the release has happened and now I am in a good state.

I’m sure in your day, 20 minutes exercise is doable, however busy you are. It is about knowing that you’re releasing that built-up cortisol.

We work with business owners and business leaders and executives and they’re all high performing people. They are making decisions; they are growing their entities. When that happens, stress is bound to occur as I said.

Therefore what we constantly do, is saying how do we improve your decision making? How do we make you more aware of your states, and give you techniques, which you can use anytime?

You know how to manage your state and be in the best form, to make those decisions. This is something that we have learned from the experts.

The second technique is very simple. It is called 7/11. And what that simply means is an intake of breath through the nose. Then a release for 11 seconds through the mouth.

What is the logic behind it?

When there is stress and the brain is perceiving threat, the body wants oxygen because it wants to run.

But if you’re inhaling in a nice, slow manner, the brain perceives the threat to have passed.

As I do it, I can already feel my shoulders just relaxing. Three times seven eleven, eighteen times three, that is fifty-four. It is under a minute exercise.

It straight away starts moving you towards the continuum of competency mode.

 

Knowing something and not doing it is the same as not knowing.

 

I am sharing with you a very simple technique, which can keep you in that part of the continuum, where you can be competent, you can be in the state of well-being, state of balance and your body is doing well. You’re enjoying what’s happening around you. You are not reacting.

You are choosing to respond from a place of balance, that’s the word I’m talking about again, and again.

Make sure you practice, make sure you put up your feet as well and take some time to relax, let your body heal and get ready for the next year.

Not to fight, or flight or freeze, but just get ready, so that it can be in a good state of balance and it can take care of everything that it comes across, with a sense of gratitude.


I wish you a very happy Christmas and a great year ahead, may it be very prosperous for you and may you be healthy and safe. Take care and I’ll be in touch with you very soon.

If you would like to discuss any of the points covered here, please feel free to request a free call below.

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