Ep 186 Mental Health Matters: Stress & Anxiety

 In Podcast

May is Mental Health Awareness month and today I want to share some ideas around decreasing your stress and anxiety in order to feel better, and do more of what you love.  Listen now to hear how stress is not always a negative thing in our lives, and how you can start to lessen the anxiety you feel on a daily basis.

In This Episode:

  • Acute/Moderate/Chronic stress 
  • How stress can be useful 
  • Andrew Huberman – The Huberman Lab – https://hubermanlab.com
  • How neuroplasticity can help you feel better
  • Importance of the story you tell around stress
  • Embracing anxiety 
  • Slow breath vs  Wim Hof breathing Method
  • Dr. Jeffrey Swartz – UCLA
  • Work with me – www.michellebourquecoaching.com/connect

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Episode Transcript:

You are listening to the it’s your time podcast and I’m your host certified life coach Michelle Arnold Burke, and today’s episode I’m discussing mental health matters. Welcome to the it’s your time Podcast, the podcast where busy professionals like you get the practical solutions and support you need to gain control of your schedule. So you can strive to be the best in your career, but without the stress and overwhelm. If you’re looking to increase your energy and decrease your stress, you are in the right place. Hello, hello, hello, welcome back to the podcast. Friends, if you are new, how fun, we are so happy that you found us. And folks, Listen, please share, we want more people listening and learning and changing their lives. And today, we have an important topic that I would love to carry the conversation over to anyone who is interested. So please know that you can always reach out directly to me, contact at Michelle Burt coaching.com, about anything we talked about here. That’s not just today, that’s always now, May is Mental Health Awareness Month. And I think we need more people talking about the importance of mental health. Keep in mind, I am not a doctor. This is not a diagnosis or a treatment or even a therapy session. But I do think mental health is as important as our physical health. And like I said, I think we need more folks talking about it. Now. Obviously, mental health can mean many things to different people. There’s so many facets to it. So today, I’ll just be touching on a couple of ideas that I think would be useful for you to consider specifically around the ideas of stress, and anxiety. And I hope that you will find them to be helpful not only for this month, but for your life. Because the truth is what I do here every single week, really is an attempt to help you with your mental health. Working with my clients is a way to help with their mental health, just on a more personalized and specific plan. Because it all has to do with your emotional, social, and psychological well being. It basically has to do with how we think, feel and behave. And mental health absolutely affects our daily living, our relationships, and our physical health. Think about some of the benefits that I talked about here. When you’re willing to work on your mental health, we know it could possibly help reduce chronic diseases related to stress, or anxiety, or substance abuse. Now as far as daily living goes, you might be able to find more joy, you might recognize uncomfortable feelings are o que you can handle them. And as far as relationships go when you’re doing this work, you can often find more connection, you can set boundaries, something that I think is so important here that I talk about is the relationship that you have with yourself. It is everything. And of course, I think once you know that you have complete control over your time, truly understand that it is your time, and you get to do with what you want. Being more intentional with it allows you to do more of what it is that you do want in life. So let’s take a look at stress and anxiety. We’ll dive right in because I know there are a bunch of folks that feel this way. And I was recently listening to a podcast where Andrew Huberman was talking about stress. He is an American neuroscientist and an associate professor in the Department of neurobiology at the Stanford University School of Medicine. Sidenote, he has a podcast it’s called the human lab. If you are interested, I will say they are long podcast. So you may have to listen to them in chunks. But it is super fascinating because he talks about brain development, brain plasticity and neural regeneration. Fascinating. So in regards to stress, he was talking about how so many people talk about stress as a negative thing. And yes, if it’s long term chronic stress, it can absolutely be negative. But also what is long term. There’s not a lot of information around what that exactly means. But he also talks about how short term stress can be positive and he discusses some scientific area Dance around acute stress that is good for the immune system. It has to do with the release of adrenaline, which is good for combating infection and think about when you’re in the midst of something like, quarter end, for example, or maybe you have a big project that’s due, the stress narrows your focus and it Prime’s your system to combat infection, and to be more focused in order to get through it. And then what happens sometimes after the stress is gone, sometimes we get sick, right? Or think about if you’ve been working, working, working, and then you go on vacation, and that’s when you start to maybe not feel so great, you were fine during the actual stressful time, and now the body is reacting differently. During moderate stress, the body stimulates the production of interleukins and gives the immune system a quick boost to protect, unlike chronic stress, which increases inflammation and the release of the components that were helping fight off the infection. That is not the same as what is happening during chronic stress. Now, I want you to also think about how stress can help motivate you think about how some people say they work best under pressure, for example. Or maybe you wait to the last minute to hand in a project or you used to wait until the last minute to study for that final exam. Stress tends to put, shall I say, a fire under your ass, right. And also think about how stress can make you stronger. Think about all of the ways that you have gotten through certain situations, and perhaps learned a few things here and there along the way. So that when you are faced with another similar stressful situation, you actually feel more confident to face it, because of all of the information that you have from your past experience with it. So all of this is to say, let’s look at how we tell our story around stress. We cannot always change the circumstances of our lives. But we can change how we react to them. 100%. So if you have some short term, or maybe even moderate stress, here and there, pay attention to what you say. Words matter. Are you telling yourself and your friends? How knots work is how you never have a minute to yourself? Is that really true? I see it all the time, someone was recently telling me how busy they were at work. And then in the next breath started talking about how long they play that game Wordle just don’t let your brain lie to you and tell you how terrible everything is. Now, if you are experiencing chronic stress, get clear on what that is. What are the circumstances around this? Stress is a feeling or it can even be a thought. You think I am stressed? And you feel stressed? A lot of times thoughts like I have too much to do. I don’t know where to start. I don’t have any support. All of those thoughts make us feel pretty stressed. But again, I want to be clear. It is not the circumstance, it is the thinking. So first, notice what you are thinking about the circumstance, get clear on what the facts are. I have one business plan to do. I have two proposals to write. I have 10 patients to call back. I have two kids to get to school. Be clear on the facts, it helps to neutralize the situation. Now, take a moment and simply normalize what is going on your brain may want to go to I have so much to do. Because our brains love to give us all of the negative information in our life. Our brains are hardwired to look for the negativity because back in the day, that was called survival. It’s normal. But now how do you want to choose to think about the situation? I’ll give you a hint. There are hundreds if not 1000s of ways at looking at things differently. And it does not have to be go to rainbows, daisies and butterflies. I am not saying go to this is amazing. lalalalalala I have no stressors in my life. I understand I get it. We all have stressors in our life. But what is a better feeling so thought for you. One that is perhaps more along the lines of, I always figure it out. I can ask for help. I don’t really have to do all of this. Listen, folks, I am you right? I know, there are times when you might not ask for help, because you think you should be the one to handle it all. There are times when you don’t want to tell others no, because you don’t want them to be disappointed. And there are times when you will not set boundaries, because you don’t want to seem too selfish. Those are all thoughts. And those thoughts often lead to an action of the things that will help you reduce your stress. And I have podcasts in the vault on setting boundaries. And I often talk about how saying no opens up so many yeses. So be sure to check those out if you need more help around those specific topics. So how can you tell your story about stress, without piling on more stress? Because sometimes what we do is, let’s say for example, you’re telling your girlfriend a story, and she’s like, Oh my god, are you kidding me? Tell me more. He’s not worth it. It’s very dramatic, right? Or you tell the story. And she’s like, Oh, really? That’s all? That doesn’t seem too bad. Find ways to tell your story around your life, that maybe don’t seem as stressful as they do today. Now, at the beginning, I also talked about anxiety. And this is a big one for many of you. My family always laughs because they are like, Oh, yes, you look so relaxed, so relaxed, as I’m, for example, holding the baby with the veins popping out of my head. Anxiety is all around me. And I would say even our dog is anxious. And I get it. He is because I am. So what does it look like for you? And today, I’m talking about our anxiety, where we still get things done throughout the day, not so much the anxiety where medications are warranted, that is another level and I for sure think medication helps. But again, I am not a doctor. So I am sharing some ways to help as far as mindset and what might be going on in your brain. And again, the first step is to notice what you are thinking. And Dr. Jeffery Schwartz is a psychiatrist at UCLA, he developed a four step self directed neuroplasticity process that might be helpful. And neuroplasticity is basically the way in which you can rewire change your brain. And the research is so fascinating. And honestly, I am sure it is just the beginning. Now, he looked at patients with OCD, and had two different groups set up. And what he found was the people that word directed to think differently about the OCD had changes in their structure of their brains. Did you hear that? They were thinking differently. And that changed the structure of their brains. And this was without taking medication. Now he discusses two parts of the brain, what he calls the Oh Center. This is where we are often triggered, and the assessment center or prefrontal cortex. So first step again, he talks about is relabeling noticing the thought and then saying, I’m experiencing my in this case, it was OCD thoughts again. For our example here. Let’s insert anxiety thoughts again. So I’m experiencing my anxiety thoughts again. Next, he suggests reframing. So that would look like I’m experiencing my anxiety thoughts again. But that’s not me. That’s just my brain. It’s so important for us to see, we are not our thoughts. I will say that again. We are not our thoughts. We cannot believe everything we tell ourselves. We act as if our beliefs which are thoughts that we have just thought over and over and over. We act as if they are truths, and they are not. Our beliefs are the filter by which we see life. And we love to find evidence for what we believe to be true, but they are not facts. And that is so important to know. Because then it gives you agency over knowing that you can change them. And when you change them, you can change your world. Now, his third step is refocusing. This is where you start to focus on another activity. For me specific to anxiety I find deep breathing, super helpful. And sometimes I’ll even put my hand over my heart to remind myself, I’m safe. For sure the breathing part, super helpful, deep breath in through the nose and long breath out through the mouth. Now, side note, slow deep breaths because there is also what is called Wim Hof breathing, and that is more in and out, in and out, in and out, and it releases adrenaline and for some people feeling anxious already, it might actually put you into a panic attack. On the other hand, I have found that Wim Hof breathing, super helpful for gaining energy, but be careful with it. You can check that out separately online if you go to YouTube and just search Wim Hof breathing. Okay, so, deep slow breath in, and slow breath out. Until you notice the anxious thoughts are gone. And the last step that he discusses is revaluing, this is where you tell yourself something like, the anxiety wasn’t serving me, I’m always safe, I know how to take care of myself. Basically, the point is to interrupt the pattern, and then begin building a new neural network around whatever it is that’s causing you the anxiety. So right now, the default thinking will always bring you into that anxiety state. It’s the neurons that fire together wire together, it’s a well known pattern that you have. So we want to interrupt that and begin building a new pattern around again, whatever it is, that’s causing you the anxiety. And honestly, sometimes simply just saying, I feel anxious and describing what that is, physically. I have tightness in my chest, my head is pounding, my heart is racing, My palms are sweaty, that alone, taking the time to describe what that is, can allow you the opportunity to be more of the observer of it, and not feel like you are it again, it’s that differentiation between being it and observing it. And again, I am not saying pretend that it doesn’t exist. I think, in fact that that’s another layer that we pile on top of ourselves, we think that we shouldn’t feel anxious, and so we try to resist it, which never works. Think about the beach ball in the ocean, you try to push it down, push it down, push it down, and then what happens, it eventually just explodes in your face, when we let the beach ball float next to us, except it ride the waves have it bring the anxiety along for the ride, right? I’ve talked about this in previous podcasts like it can come along for the ride, it’s just not in charge of the music, right? It does not have to be what directs us, we have more control over keeping it in check. When we’re not trying to push it away, push it away, push it away. And a lot of this work is simply making room for the discomfort of this thing that we call life. To recognize the point is not necessarily to always be happy, happy, happy. Now, yes, of course we want to bring joy to our life. And yes, we want to experience the amazingness Is that even a word? It is here today the amazingness of life, but we are all human with human brains. And we are here for the human experience the full one and that means we take all of it. And just being willing to do that take on the full human experience can give you so much peace. Okay, friends, you know I love doing all this work with you here and I also love being able to take it to the next level with one on one coaching. So if you are ready, and even if you’re not, you might have to start before you’re ready. Let’s chat. I recently just opened up some more times on my calendar for free calls to connect. So just go to Michelle Burt coaching.com forward slash connect, get on the calendar and let’s start getting you the changes that you most want. Again, Michelle Burke coaching.com For slash connect. And let me remind you, there’s no obligation just get on the call and you will leave with something more than what you came to the call with. It’s so much fun. Okay, that’s what I have for you today. Let’s circle back next week but for now, make it a great day. Take care

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