Part one of this conversation is here:
Imagine waking up in the morning and the first thing you’re thinking is ‘I don’t have enough time to do everything I need to do today’, you have hijacked your brain and the more you do that, you are building the neural pathway for chronic stress.
The brain has three levels: the basal brain (which is the lowest part of the brain); the monkey brain (which is the middle part of the brain responsible for emotions); the pre-frontal part of the brain (which is the human part of the brain responsible for making logical decisions).
What happens with chronic stress is that the more we allow it, the more it allows for reduction of the logical part of the brain to be reduced energy, and you find that only the reactive part of the brain is growing while the logical part that tells you that you actually have enough time, is wearing away.
We live in incredibly stressful times. How do we stop or reverse it and get more energy in the prefrontal cortex?
It’s important to understand the magnitude of the unmanaged stress. If you understand your brain, you can use it to your advantage regardless of your childhood experience or what you’re currently going through.
One question to ask yourself is what calms you? What make you less reactive? What brings the brain back to an aligned manner?
Breathing exercises is one of the known calmers; doing six breaths per minute, for example.
This gets you into that state where the nerves start to go oh, wait we’re safe!
Safety is the number one guiding principle of the brain and we have to shift our physiological state into safety through breathing, movement , touch, social connections, yawning and more.
Many people don’t know this. What brings the prefrontal cortex into training? Meditation does it, mindfulness, music is a beautiful way to do it and other beautiful sounds.
There are three things that the brain craves to function optimally.
Clarity: Who are you? Why are you up to? What matter to you the most? Are you focusing on the right things? If you’re not clear about this, then your brain becomes your frenemy because it’s not sure what you want from it anymore. Prioritize time to spend thinking about that clarity each day.
Confidence: Your brain wants to know, can we actually deal with this? Confidence comes from having the capacity to do things and capacity is energy. The brain is interested in whether we have strong social connections, whether we’re eating well. Control is a huge component of the brain not to control everything but to control one thing. Can you make one small imperfect move today that will move you to the next good level? Consistency also falls in here: is what you’re doing one cool thing for today or will you carry on with it and create those habits and the brain will know that it’s confident. You have to keep it simple too.
Connection: With things that matter and to connection to other people. Tons of studies have shown that we’re adaptable when we feel that we’re contributing to something that matters. And we have to believe that it matters not just only for our survival. One of the ways to shift stress is to move into service to others; getting out of our minds and our process and it’s amazing how that builds resilience. It also works in children.
How can we give the brain more ways to feel safe?
We can create a framework for energy management.
We do that by how we prime ourselves. A morning ritual to prime your brain will include some sort of confidence building, clarity and connection to what matters. Everyone is going to have a different process for this, find what works for you.
For Dr Hanna, it’s 3Ms – Movement (Physical Exercise) Meditation, and Mirth (Humour)
Mirth is the emotional experience of finding something funny, which is very helpful for changing our brain chemistry.
Get clarity about how you want to show up. Think of who you want to be before you start thinking of what you want to do. Like going out to get fresh air before a conversation with somebody.
How we sleep sets us well for the day that’s coming and it helps to regulate the stress hormones.
Reflect positively on what happened during the day and you would be inspired to do your priming everyday.
It’s important that you build your confidence that you can cope with what you’re going through.
Most people begin the day by diving into tasks and it can get overwhelming. For those who don’t have a lot of time, you can spend time (like 15 minutes) in what is called a brain recharge process: Breathe, Feel, Focus. (BFF) You can make this your best friend! This is done by closing your eyes which automatically eliminates the primary focus of stress, which is light, motion
Then focus on feeling your breathe and how your breathe really feels, notice your chest expanding and retracting and then focus on some positive feelings, it could be someone your love or a feeling like gratitude.
Then decide how you really want to show up. If you can break the pattern of watching the news right away and recharge your own brain, then the world cannot hijack it from you.
You would notice the wear and tear will be faster even if you achieve things throughout the day, if you are not in charge of your brain.
Music helps a whole lot and it allows you to feel the energy of the song to build the energy that the brain needs through the day.
You can also do the brain recharge during the day, preferably before meals.
You process food better when you eat in a calm state. Food is not well absorbed when eaten in a chaotic state.
If you’re dealing with overwork, we know that connection and support are critical for stress management; this impacts the bottomline.
How you recharge your brain is very similar to how you recharge your business. Being more mindful about the energy we exchange with one another. There has to be an energy that is engaging. At meetings, people need to feel that they will be heard. It’s important to focus on strength. Doing things that take care of your self is an investment and not time wasting. We have been time and money obsessed and that’s been killing us; imagine if we were more energy obsessed and being mindful of the sort of energy we’re putting out there.
Everyone individual and organization needs to manage their energy.
When is comes to dealing with financial stress, it is important to deal with the issue of control. We are not in control of many elements yet we need to be sure of what we are in control of.
When we are doing those things that bring us joy (not being stupid and lying in the couch doing nothing), but singing that way that we can serve in a way where we bring our best energy, all other things come.
How do you increase your capacity for better finances? Why are you focusing on that you shouldn’t be and why are you not focusing on and you should be focusing on?
You can look at research where people who win lotteries find that money actually doesn’t make them happy; in other words, stop chasing false idols and focus on truly being happy.
Stress is highly addictive and in a way we get more stimulated by the negative experiences; knowing that means that you can change that by building it and intentionally learning to stop (the madness) and then it becomes natural to you.
Assess, Appreciate and Adjust
95% of what your brain is processing is subconscious. A friend of Dr Hanna’s did a research recently that found that people who watch three minutes of negative news in the morning have a 27% chance of rating their entire day as being negative. That prime time in a different way. Our brain is picking these things and stress is highly contagious.
It’s not okay to not knowing what is going on, but train your brain with more positive to appreciate and be able to balance how to respond to bad situations.
If we see people who are incredibly stressed out, how can we help them?
The best thing to do is to manage your energy because it is contagious. If you’re grounded, people will pick up on that and they will feel relaxed around you. Incorporate something positive that you can do for that people.
Send something funny to the person.
Do your best not to take on other people’s stress and then you may move in to what is called over care and it gets you pulled into what others are going through.
Ask yourself if you can stay grounded in that position. For some people, if their parents or spouses are going through stress, it’s a stress trigger for them too. Find something positive that both of you can do together.
Learn more from Dr Heidi’s website