What is most important to you? It is the orienting step in SOS we teach in Hijacked. If you haven't identified your goals, values, emotions, and thoughts you want to experience more regularly, how can you turn to them in stress? How can you hang in there when your brain is overwhelmed by past traumas? Spend some time today talking to someone or journaling on what's most important to you. That time will make it easier for your brain to avoid, recover, or reset after a stressful time.
Harvey. Irma. Jose. Just the words raise our stress levels. In some cases, because of real danger, these storms should move us to move, literally, somewhere else. In other cases, the physical threat is not to us, but we are still moved: to compassion, to help, to care for those in harms way. In either case, don't ignore your alarm when it is tugging you to be safe or make a difference.
You can change the way your brain responds to pain, to intrusive thoughts, and to the normal mental and emotional discomfort of living in our crazy world. SOS is the model. You have to practice it when you aren't stressed so it keeps you in a calmer place all the time, and when you melt down, you realize what is happening. It can sometimes feel like there is no hope; changing the way you use your brain can be the difference for so many of us.
It may feel impossible to step back from stress. When we are already triggered, it hurts so much. And, stepping back is a skill. We have to start the homework during ordinary time before the crisis takes over our brain and body.
Do you meditate? Research from Miami's Amishi Jha has proven that 12 minutes a day changes our memory and resilience. The reason has to do with your alarm. When your alarm knows that you can wait out the painful thoughts, emotions, and memories, it is willing to turn down more quickly or not fire when you get triggered in the future. Make room for 12 today and your alarm will fire less often and in a helpful way when you need it.
It's a new year. Where do you want to pay attention to your alarm so you can be ready for the triggers? Doing SOS before your alarm fires is the best way to manage your brain health. It may feel impossible to do, but even when we've been through life's most difficult challenges, you can reclaim your ability to focus.
The problem with our world is that it triggers us more and more. The good news is that you have a choice. You can always step back (be mindful) and put your brain back into the moment. Then, but not before then, you can choose what you want to think about or pay attention to. It is that one-two punch that let's you lower your stress level. The more you practice, the quicker you recover from the melt downs and they actually affect you less often.
Some people in your life experience stress at a high level because of their biology. They can learn to manage stress too, but it is really hard for them. What core value allows you to help folks who really struggle even when it is difficult?
Managing stress effectively does not mean you will always get what you want. It doesn't mean you will always be comfortable. It certainly doesn't mean you can always win. What is for sure is that when you learn to recognize your alarm and its signals, you know when your body and brain want you to notice something. You can use this information for so many things. Perhaps the most important, you can chose how you handle whatever life brings.
One of the most powerful ways to step back is to taste. Today, take a peppermint or hard candy. Can you enjoy it until the end without crunching it? Can you simply enjoy the flavor without needing to move to fast? Your alarm will turn down if you do. Mindful sweetness may be the sweetest kind of slowness.
On the highway this morning, I watched a woman drive with her knees and put her make-up on with both hands. Naturally, my alarm fired. I should have felt stressed. I quickly drove around her and made sure I was safe if she decided she needed her knees to put on make up as well (though maybe she is an effective at driving with her feet as well).
I wondered if I should call the police. I wondered how her alarm could be so impaired that she thought driving while applying make-u...p made sense. Then I realized, this was simply another story to share. When we notice each other's alarms firing and not when they should, we recognize more how to notice, value, and manage our own.
Would I have yelled at her if I saw her again? Or would I ask a question like, "Quite a feat putting on make-up in the car, tell me about your life that you always are doing more than one thing at a time?" What I don't do anymore is ignore these kind of situations. I don't want my brain hijacked. I want to understand others before judging them that more of us don't have to be hijacked either.
What do you do to step back when you notice yourself getting taken over by stress? Some people close their eyes and listen. Other people hum their favorite tune. Some people love to do breathing exercises. There are dozens of ways to bring your brain back on line and show your alarm that you've noticed its signals and you are in control.
Seen Julian's lecture on the book? Enjoy!
Julian won this award for his work with kids. Everyone needs to learn how to manage stress, even our littlest angels! Thanks for congratulating him!
Want to eat less this winter? Hopefully these tips will help!
If you practice stepping back when you aren't stressed, that's what makes it possible to reset when you are. It is never too late to begin taking care of your brain.