How I overcame high stress, anxiety and overwhelm.
I want to share with you how I overcame my own high stress, anxiety and overwhelm.
I'm a doctor of Eastern medicine. After seeing many patients in my office. It occurred to me that no one would ever be happy or healthy if they didn’t reduce their stress, anxiety and overwhelm. Most symptoms that people were coming in to see me for were either rooted in stress or exacerbated - made worse - by stress.
So I started thinking about it and what I really wanted was a software update for computers that I could just put into everyone's brain. I push the button and everyone could prepare for serenity. But there obviously wasn't anything like that available.
So I did a deep dive into how our brains work. It's called the science of neuroplasticity. If I could figure out how we got into this mess, I could figure out how to get us out of it. So I researched it for a long time. I didn't quit my job or anything, but I researched it for about eight years. And what I came up with was really interesting to me, but it stayed in the background in my mind as a solution.
I trusted the theory of it, but I didn't know that it worked in practice. Skip forward a couple of years, and I found myself in a place where I was highly stressed. I was anxious. I was overwhelmed. I was biting the head off my husband. I thought he was going to leave me and go find a nice barista.
I was not my best self. I wasn't sleeping. I gained weight. I was in a mess and it felt horrible. And maybe you know what I'm talking about? I never want to go back there again. And I don't want people to have to live there because I know firsthand how horrible it is.
So after all of that research I did, it finally occurred to me to put that into action for myself. So I did. I created a step-by-step process for me to go through, to do this rewiring based on the science of neuroplasticity.
Let me tell you about Neuroplasticity just for a minute and I'm going to way over-simplify this, because it's really complicated. But the gist of it is this. Every stressful thought that you think wires and strengthens those pathways in your brain.
So that when you go through a stressful time or a stressful childhood, any stressful period of life; your brain becomes more and more wired toward stress. The stress neural pathways become stronger and stronger and stronger. So that when something even remotely stressful comes up for you, you sailed down those tracks - I call it to Stressville -you've sailed down those tracks. And before you even know what's happening, you're worrying, you're spinning out and it's because these pathways are so strong. And then I don't know if you're at this point. I got to a point where my thoughts were more negative.
I got to a low spot. I was not, as I previously said, my best self. I put the step-by-step program I’d designed into action for myself. It took me at least seven or eight weeks to start to really feel better. By 12 weeks I was feeling a lot better. And by 16 weeks I was feeling a whole lot better. I was really excited because I put a lot of time into this research and it actually works.
So I’ll tell you about a couple of things that you can start doing. Here's the scoop. If every single stressful thought wires your brain to be more stressed by strengthening the in your mind stress neural pathways. So I thought, how do we counteract that? We have to strengthen our calm and happy neural pathways and rebalance our mind, don’t we? Yes. So how do we do that? For me personally, I needed a systematic approach that I would follow every single day for a concentrated amount of time.
So you’ll want to set some time aside and you want to concentrate on things that strengthen those neural pathways for you. One example is appreciation. The reason that I don't say gratitude is because if you've heard about gratitude lists, but so many people say, “oh, do a gratitude list. Write down 5 things you're grateful for.” And yes, that can help, but it becomes a rote exercise after a while. It just doesn't activate those neural pathways as much as appreciation does.
Try to find things around you in the moment to appreciate, and it can be really simple. It can be the chair you're sitting in, it can be your comfy pants. It can be going to the bathroom inside, or running water. It can be a roof over your head. It can be that your car runs – you get the picture. And then let yourself appreciate that. Let yourself marinate on those emotions for a minute, because when you're doing that, you're insulating strengthening those pathways in your mind.
And then over time those pathways get stronger every time you devote concentrated effort to activating them. I’ll post more articles about the specifics of Neuroplasticity. But today I just wanted to let you know that I know what that feels like to be highly stressed, anxious and overwhelmed and I want to help because it's awful. It can ruin relationships, your health and your life. My husband didn't leave me, I fixed it in time, thank Goodness.
I'm here to help. I hope that the appreciation suggestion and how to use it helped you. Start doing that as many times during the day as possible. And even if you have to set a timer and set some time aside for yourself during the day to do it, because every time you do, you're going to strengthen those calm and happy neural pathways in your mind.
And then you'll inch toward that mind and person that you want to be. And get out of that stress mess because it's not fun and it's a terrible place to live. That's why I'm here to help you.
Another tip that I do have for you today is I made a whole video about a breathing technique that actually activates your parasympathetic or calm, nervous system.
This can also help because you're stepping out of that stress response. So if you want to check that out, that's also on this page.