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Three Forms of Stress

“Tension is who you think you should be.  Relaxation is who you are.” – Chinese proverb

Stress impacts people differently.  But there is one common denominator we stress, we all experience it.  To highlight this consider a stressful situation.  Depending on the variables and context we primarily tend to do two different things; over-function or under-function.  Which means we can seek to control our circumstances, or absolve responsibility of them.

Over Functioning

Over and under functioning can be a hard place to be.  Most people I know (especially in Calgary) tend to be over-functioners right from the get go.  As soon as that adrenaline starts churning, it’s time to do more!  I meet a lot of clients that want to jump in and take charge with their health and wellness.  And truly, there’s a lot more going on here than people realize.  There is usually a need to control, clamp down, and keep the regimen going at all costs.  We may be addicted to the feeling of adrenaline, high outputs, and productivity.   This is because it feels good!

To get you thinking about this even further, I notice this need for control come up when people have extended periods of time off!  Whether it’s a school teacher heading off for the summer, or people getting ready for a vacation.  The anxiety or need to control more kicks up, and it’s full steam ahead.

You’ll have to really earn that vacation, or what will you do with all that time off?  God forbid you just enjoy it, or ease into it.  I understand the need to have some structure, and I’m definitely not telling you not to be healthy – but there’s a big difference between health and wellness and the exercise paradigm that’s been cajoled into the consumers’ minds today.


Under Functioning

This go-go-go attitude often leads to period of burn out.  Falling off the wagon is disruptive, embarrassing, and it’s our body, mind, or spirit fighting back, because it hasn’t been listened to.  We take pride in being warriors and go-getters, but as high as a roller coaster can rise, it must at some point come back down.  In the words of an old friend;

“Would you ever ride a straight roller coaster?” – Nashan Goddard

The answer is a definitive no.  It’s boring.  The mastery here is to maximize the ups and mitigate the downs.  When we are flying a little too high, there has got to be some form self regulation, or the wax will melt, and we will fall to our own despair (Icarus).

Body Scan

This self check is critical so that we can build more awareness around what it is that we need, and not conform to the ideals that other people put on us.  Here’s how you can get in check with yourself;

  • Take 5 : Find a nice quiet place, set your phone on silent, and a timer for 5-10 minutes.
  • Breath : Pay attention to your breath for a moment, and then begin to notice various physical sensations in your body; ie. cold, warm, tingling, itchy, etc.
  • Body : after a while you can ask yourself what am I feeling physically?
  • Emotion : when you understand, ask yourself what am I feeling emotionally?
  • Mind : lastly, ask yourself what am I thinking intellectually?
  • Transition Back : take a moment and sit with yourself, get clear on the message, and just what you need.  If you like you can journal this and incorporate it into your day if you have a daily planner.

This is a powerful sequence that can really give you the inside scoop on you and what you need.  Ultimately you want to be the driver of your own life.  It takes guts to stand up and ask for what you need, even if it’s a little personal time.  If you are interested in getting more in touch with yourself intuitively check out this article by Precision Nutrition.

Try to practice some kind of mindfulness to build self awareness everyday.  Over the course of a few weeks you’ll really start to notice a big impact, and a much more informed perspective.  If you’d like support on building better habits so you can build up the mental muscle to do a daily check in click here.

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