Calming Stress (in the moment)

Up to 80% of diseases are correlated to stress.

Many yogis, thought leaders and enlightened individuals talk about meditation as a tool for helping stress. Meditation is a great tool, and I highly recommended the practice, but what happens at the moment during a stressful event? How do you calm yourself at the moment and stop the cycle or rut of stress?


I have two kids; Henry is 14 and Alexandria is 12. There are many moments to practice patience. I found that staying calm at the moment of adulting a situation or argument is near impossible. To feel and experience stress is very simple, just think of your trigger word, for me it is "why." During any stressful events, two hormones are released. The first is adrenaline, the fight or flight response. This hormone has kept you alive for thousands of years.

For example, if you did not release this hormone if you heard a stick break while hunting you became dinner. Pay attention to your body and stress the next time you have to slam on your brakes. The second hormone is cortisol. Cortisol is meant to focus your thinking. When you heard the stick break when hunting, you did not think about what it was you ran or defended yourself. Cortisol clouds your pre-frontal cortex where logical, creative thought is created. During any stressful event, our bodies are more interested in living the next 10 minutes not the next ten years. Along with a hormone release, there are two parts of your nervous system that is affected by stress. The first is your parasympathetic (PNS) and the second is you sympathetic (SNS). The SNS is your fight or flight response which is involved in the release of Adrenalin and Cortisol. The Parasympathetic is the calm, deep breathing, logical thoughts, and feelings, the healthy side of stress. The problem is that your body takes little stressful events and activates the SNS treating them like you are in danger. Many situations today are not that drastic requiring the SNS to get involved. The other bad part is when the SNS is regularly triggered; we build that muscle making it easier and faster to activate (long-term perpetual stress). Four Things You Can Do if You Feel Stress Building 1. Check Your Breathing We are one of the only land animals that held its breath. Watch your puppy breathe. It takes long slow deep breaths constantly and more so if they are in danger. By forcing yourself to breathe long and slow breaths, you are telling the SNS that you are safe and the SNS is not needed which will help activate the PNS 2. Change Your Body Position When you change your body position and stand as confidently and proudly as possible, you can alter the hormones that are being released. Check out Amy Cuddy's work at Stanford. If you have seen Amy's work, great, but have you tried it. I coached my wife (very dangerous and it is not recommended) before an important speech. 20 minutes before going on stage she was a wreck and threatened to leave. I coached her to go into the bathroom in a private stall and stand with her hands on her hips for the next 5 min, think Wonder Woman. She came out of the bathroom a new confident woman and rocked her speech. Release your inner badass! 3. Name Your Feelings Call it out, for example when I feel anxiety I say " I feel anxiety, and it's OK." We never help our stressed state by suppressing it. 4. Yawning Yawning activates your parasympathetic, watch athletes before a competition. Try any one of these or come up with your mix. Stress is dangerous and will keep you from being a better you. Stress also has a high probability to develop into disease.

You have taught yourself and reinforced your current stress management since you were born. To change to a new paradigm or stress management protocol know that it will take time. Do not beat your self up if you find your self-slipping back to old habits. Recognizing the feeling and response, is the first step to moving past it.

The best way to move past an old negative response to stress is through it, not ignoring it.