There is good news about stress management skills. They can be improved, and we have some excellent new technology available that will help with that if you want to go the technology route.
If you are interested in more traditional stress management, then read Mantak Chia’s book, “Becoming a Multiorgasmic Man”.
Get your attention?
Chia does not sell any potions or wave any magic wands though.
You practice and learn very disciplined breathing and attentional skills, which are the essence of stress management skills.
Our body is fast in terms of stress response. Without a fast stress response, which is designed to get my body prepared for a life or death action in much less time than it takes me to blink my eyes, even two to four times faster than I can blink my eyes, we would not have been able to hunt effectively, and by the way, that hunting happened in teams, or defend myself from attacks from other bigger, stronger hunters.
That same physiology which is so well adopted to the wild, actually hinders my ability to handle a marital dispute or my ability to handle a customer service issue, for example.
However, there is good news for our stress management skills. We have been successful at this stress management process thousands of times.
The bad news is that when we do not manage our stress response, and we move in to full blown fight or flight syndrome, people can get hurt, because in fight or flight or freeze chemistry, those are our only behavioral choices.
The experience of that adrenalin rush, called ‘combat rush’ can get addictive, because you do feel very alive, but the physiology is designed to keep you alive when you are in a life or death situation.
It is certainly appropriate to seeing an oncoming driver in your lane, but not to a work or marital disagreement.
Just for a Moment Imagine…. that you have won the lottery. Now tell me what feeling you have?
For most folks the thought of winning the lottery brings a feeling of excitement and some immediate spending plans.
Now imagine having this thought about having won the lottery;
“It is not enough, once again the state has cheated me!”
What feelings accompany that thought?
For most folks the feeling is bitter resentment, and by the way, I use this scenario in my anger management groups, so I have seen the response of folks who create those thoughts.
Stress Management Skill #1-Change the Thought to Change the Feeling
Stress Management Skill#2-Change the Thought to Change the Feeling Frequently.
Stress feelings or happy feelings follow a thought.
In the above scenario, feelings of happiness or resentment follow a thought about winning the lottery.
So it is my thoughts about situations in my life which bring feelings, and if the feeling I am having is a worry or fear or anxiety kind of feeling, related to thoughts about being overwhelmed or not having the skills or resources necessary to handle the situation at hand, all I have to do to change the chemistry in my body is to change the thought or better yet, the thinking and breathing pattern to thoughts which relax and breathing which is deeper and longer.
Of course, that doesn’t do anything for soothing the angry customer.
What changing the thought/breathing pattern can do is open higher perceptual centers in the brain for brainstorming solutions that help your customer, for example, feel like he or she is important to you.
Why Not Practice Stress Management Skills on a Schedule?
If you stop and think about it folks, we practice stress thinking and chemistry on a schedule, and that schedule is pretty much constant.
Why not practice stress management skills regularly too, so that you are in stress chemistry 50% of the time and Heartmath chemistry 50% of the time?
Heart rate variability biofeedback is an excellent tool that speeds up the process that Chia talks about in his book.
Heart rate variability is the name given to the process of learning to manage the time between heart beats, and it is easy and quick to learn, works in a heart beat, on any given heart beat, and does utilize deeper breathing and thoughts of appreciation and cooperation, so it is a great tool to use on any given heart beat to change the chemistry in my body.
One other side effect is that heart rate variability opens the higher perceptual centers in my brain, so I can schedule heart rate variability biofeedback for excellent brainstorming sessions.
Stress management skills learned the heart rate variability way are an integral part of any brain fitness workout too.
Why is stress management important in brain fitness? About 10-15 years ago the neuroscientists discovered that we grow new neurons every day, and those neurons can migrate to the hippocampus where they help me sustain memories.
However, they do not necessarily survive a brain bath of adrenalin or cortisol, so do your heart rate variability biofeedback regularly to bathe those new neurons in DHEA, the anti-aging hormone, instead of adrenalin and cortisol, and facilitate their movement to the memory centers, where you challenge them with a computerized novel learning experiences, which facilitates increased neuroplasticity which gives you greater problem solving skills for that irritated customer mentioned at the top of the article.
With a bit of practice, you will be writing to Mantak Chia, and offering him a critique.
Michael S. Logan is a brain fitness expert, a counselor, a student of Chi Gong, and licensed one on one HeartMath provider. I enjoy the spiritual, the mythological, and psychological, and I am a late life father to Shane, 10, and Hannah Marie, 4, whose brains are so amazing. http://www.askmikethecounselor2.com