6 Practical Ways to Avoid Stress Before it Arises and Live Life with More Flow [Episode #862]
This week’s topic is: 6 Practical Ways to Avoid Stress Before it Arises and Live Life with More Flow
Being stressed out is something we can catch before we go into that stress response or our bodies start to deplete energy. There are 6 ways that have really helped me take my stress levels way down that I’m very excited to share with you. Stress is pretty much correlated. It’s part of inflammation, it’s part of all these different illnesses.
If we say feeling stressed out means we’re not peaceful in our lives, it means that we are not in this full flow of enjoyment and freedom to be ourselves, to be in our fullest expression and to really live joy, bliss, and peace. Otherwise, we’re just existing. It’s far easier to prevent stress versus getting really stressed out and then trying to calm ourselves down once we are stressed. A really key part of this is being aware of the patterns that we all live and ways in which stress has come up or has become habitual. Then, to learn to rewire ourselves, which we all have the power to do.
Stress is really about our response to what is happening in the outside world. We can’t control these responses or these occurrences, however, we can start to regulate ourselves from the inside to create more equanimity and more resilience. And once we do that, we are more equipped to prevent stress, not minimize its effects or to come back faster once we’re really stressed out, and to actually prevent it in the first place. This is a real game changer.
Kimberly, greeting from Germany! Love your podcast. My question is about stress. It always seems to take over my consciousness and derail what I am doing during the day. How can I learn to let go of stress and live my life more freely?
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Kimberly: 00:01 Namaste. Loves and welcome back to our Thursday q and a show where today we have a very important topic for all of us to thrive in life and feel healthy and wonderful and enjoy our lives, which is six practical ways to avoid stress before it arises and live life with more flow. So I love this topic because being stressed out is something we can catch before we go into that stress response before our bodies start to deplete so much energy. There are six ways that have really helped me and my life take my stress levels way down that I’m very excited to share with you. There’s a lot of research around stress these days, and I really think it’s the time now here and now where we stop depleting ourselves so much. Stress is pretty much correlated. It’s part of inflammation, it’s part of all these different illnesses.
01:08 It’s part of just if we say feeling stressed out means we’re not peaceful in our lives, it means that we are not in this full flow. I’ll use that word in the title flow of enjoyment and freedom to be ourselves, to be in our fullest expression and to really live joy, bliss, peace. I mean, otherwise, why are we here? Otherwise, we’re just existing. So I’m really excited to share these six key ways and it is far easier to prevent stress and to look at the, to get into in just a moment about when we’re about to go into stress and to regulate, to pull back versus getting really stressed out and then trying to reregulate afterwards or to calm ourselves down once we are stressed. So a really key part of this is being aware of the patterns that we all live and ways in which stress has come up or become habitual, and then to learn to rewire ourselves, which we all have the power to do.
02:14 Stress isn’t the actual life events like divorce or bad weather or traffic, but it’s really about our response to what is happening on the outside world. So we can’t control these responses or these occurrences, but we can start to regulate ourselves from the inside to create more equanimity and more resilience. And once we do that, we are more equipped to prevent stress, not minimize its effects or to come back faster once we’re really stressed out, but to actually prevent it in the first place. And so this is a real game changer. I’m really excited about this topic
Kimberly: 02:59 Before we go in. As always, my little reminder that really the whole intention of sauna and my life’s work and my books has been to support you and to help spread what has really helped, and the hub for all of that is over on our website, which is my sauna.com. That’s M-Y-S-O-L-L-U-N a.com. There are blogs on there that I have been writing for years as well as research articles, a culmination of hundreds, I think thousands of recipes now and guided meditations and other podcasts you would enjoy. So please take advantage of so many tools, especially in regards to this topic, especially in living a life in flow, really supporting your holistic self-care, your holistic wellbeing. Life can be really light, it can feel lighter, it can feel more free. That’s really what I’ve experienced in my own life coming from my healing journey of feeling really constricted in my body, really focused on dieting and weight loss, feeling really constricted in my choices and what I was going to do in life and being a recovering perfectionist and always caring about being number one in my class and grades into really opening up into this fullness of self-expression and this unique, true self-energy that we all have.
Question around the topic of: 6 Practical Ways to Avoid Stress Before it Arises and Live Life with More Flow: Kimberly, greeting from Germany! Love your podcast. My question is about stress. It always seems to take over my consciousness and derail what I am doing during the day. How can I learn to let go of stress and live my life more freely?
04:36 So I’m really passionate about sharing about that. So please take advantage over on the website. There’s so much on there. Our question today comes from Sasha, who is from Berlin, Germany, Sasha sending you much love across the ocean. I absolutely love Europe. I love Germany. I haven’t been traveling over there in a while since we got our Hawaii farm. We’re kind of, when we travel, we’re always going to that part of the world. But I send you so much love out there. I’ve met so many incredible Europeans, Germans, lots of amazing humans in that part of the world. Thank you for being part of the community. Oh, and I wanted to mention before I read Sasha’s question as I’m staring into this camera, is that we had the show now on video if you would like to interact with me in a visual format that’s on YouTube, and also if you want to continue listening on Spotify or Apple that’s available as well.
05:37 But here, Sasha from Germany here in my home in LA feels really intimate. I’m sitting on my couch front of my computer. This is the space where I write the books. This is a space where I meditate, so there’s a intimate energy when you come in as well. Now, Sasha, you write Thank you for highlighting question. Greetings from Germany. I love your podcast. My question is about stress. It seems always to take over my consciousness and derail what I am doing during the day. How can I learn to let go of stress and to live my life more freely? So thank you so much, Sasha. This is a very important topic that affects everything as I mentioned earlier, from our physical health to our mental emotional wellbeing, our enjoyment of life. So before we dive in with these six practical ways that I want to leave you with today that I very much hope support you, I do want to dive into some of the research around stress because it really shouldn’t be normalized in our lives.
Research around stress
06:45 We should realize that stress is something that’s very detrimental. It needs to be looked at. We need to be aware of stressful areas, stressful times in our lives, patterns of stress because it will break our lives down, break our bodies down. There is a meta-analysis of 187 studies in the American Psychological Association Journal. This was published in 2022, and it found that early life stressors that can include neglect or any sort of home environment communication, stress was linked to inflammation and negative health effects in adulthood. So this goes back to understanding some of our patterns, some of the ways that we think are normal that maybe we’ve been living out since our childhood ways of interacting with the outside world. Anxiety, we all know that anxiety, medications, antidepressants are used by millions and millions of Americans and even more millions of people across the world.
07:58 So we want to be aware of some of these patterns are really longstanding, but it doesn’t mean that they’re, that they can’t change. There’s a lot of shifts that we can make with awareness and with attention and with support. There was another study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that shows that positive social bonds and having healthy relationships with others, which was the subject of a show we did recently around six practical ways to better your relationships was also really wonderful for cutting your risk of early death by 50% and helping to help with physical and mental illnesses. It gets really granular. There was a study in 2019 in cell and developmental biology that found that the stress hormone cortisol can actually affect the nerves in your brain. And when you are in a lot of elevated stress over time, this affects these key organs in the body, including your brain, your spinal cord, and different key organs as I mentioned.
09:11 So the cascade effect of these hormones is very serious. We know nowadays there’s a lot of complex illnesses out there, degenerative diseases that are multifactorial. There’s the ways in which we eat are diet, but stress really plays a role, especially some of these brain disorders. So we want to be aware that there are short-term effects and then there’s long-term effects, which are compounded over time. A 2019 study published in microbial pathogenesis found that stress actually makes your infections worse. It elevates bacterial growth. I promise there’s going to be a lot of good news after this. I just want to make sure we’re aware how serious stress really is stress. I’m going to not go into all this research, although we will put it in the show notes. The Experimental and Clinical Sciences Journal in 2017 found that stress actually rewires your brain. It creates structural significant changes in alterations and activity.
10:18 So imagine these stress responses start to shift our perceptions, our patterns. It’s like the chicken before the egg, right? It’s like keeps happening. And then the patterns are more easily triggered by these outside occurrences that keep triggering us, and then we trigger and then the brain rewires. So we really want to take a step back and say, wow, there are ways in which I haven’t been fully aware, but these are micro to macro reactions of stress, and this is really important for our community. Frontiers and microbiology in 2017 found that stress damages the microbiome so that the effects of stress can really affect our digestion and our microbiome health. This is something that we’ve talked about for so long. This is something that’s really close to my heart. This is one of the reasons that we offer our clinically researched SBO formula that’s worked so well in my body and the bodies of my clients and others because it’s related to nature.
11:21 And I could see in myself that as I became more stressed, it was exacerbated by poor eating habits. The stress was also ravaging my gut health and it was all feeding into this cycle. And when I started to heal myself, part of that was nurturing my gut health. Part of that was learning to meditate. Part of that was slowing down, looking at my patterns and all work together. So if we’re feeling really stressed, a physical thing that we can start to do right away is to take care of our gut health and work to rebuild any which needs to happen consistently. Similarly to how electrolytes get wiped out, our gut microbiome strains can go into dysbiosis from sugar, dehydration, stress moving and traveling a lot, lots of things. So we want to keep rebuilding that on a regular basis, everyday basis. So a couple other quick things here.
2022 Key Stress Statistics
12:18 I mean, there’s so much about stress. It’s interesting that the most stressed out state in the country. This was something that was really interesting to me. If you think in your mind, take a guess to yourself, Louisiana, interesting and the country that has the highest stress level in the world. And I wonder, are some people not reporting accurately? It’s Greece, ported stress level, 59%, right? Sometimes I think of some of these places that I’ve been to, let’s say, even in Eastern Asia that seem very high productivity, high stress levels. But this is what I, some research found. Now 55% of Americans report being stressed out during the day, and 57% of Americans say that stress makes them feel paralyzed, breaks down our life, breaks down our bodies. We don’t eat well, we don’t make good choices. We have so much depleted from us. Our digestion starts to get more sluggish.
13:29 And of course, this leads to weight gain. So the stress and weight conundrum, of course, is one that we all start to feel and know. In fact, 30% of adults say they eat more comfort food than usual when they’re stressed. So when we’re stressed, we don’t feel good, we don’t eat well, our digestion doesn’t function well. These are some of the many ways in which stress can affect us. 79% of men say that work stress affects their personal relationship. 61% of women said that. So I mean, it goes on and on and on. And I don’t want to get too far down into the stress research, although we can just be aware that it’s a really, really, really, really important thing. So what do we do? How do we, and the focus of today’s show is how do we prevent stress before it arises? How do we, instead of trying to minimize stress eating, how about we don’t get so stressed out in the first place?
6 Practical Ways to Avoid Stress Before it Arises and Live Life with More Flow
15:07 Okay, so now we’re going to go into our six practical steps for preventing stress instead of trying to minimize it or backpedal from it. And some of them are going to be more really, really practical. And some are ones which are ones that we can be aware of, but we need to work on a little bit by little bit over time.
#1. Allow more time for ourselves and less things crammed into a day
The first one, and this is really practical, but sometimes it’s a really good basic reminder, is just to allow more time for ourselves and less things crammed into a day. Remember, we’re tying to prevent stress. We think that we can do everything, especially us busy moms and really busy people, but we need to take a step back and really use the word no sometimes no to certain get togethers, no to certain committees. If we’re really over already over programmed, there’s already so much going on.
16:08 There’s so much going on with our kids, with our families at work, we need more time. I know for myself in the mornings, I need more time to get ready to get my kids dressed and to get lunch and breakfast done and to leave for school a little bit earlier. Otherwise it just starts to feel overwhelmed and that’s when the stress happens. I know for myself, just allowing a little bit more time instead of, oh my gosh, I cut it so close to this meeting and now there’s this little bit of traffic, or these lights aren’t working so much. Stress can be alleviated just by 10, 15 extra minutes here and there, put in and we can cut those 10 or 15 minutes from mindless browsing on the internet or just scrolling on social media or ways in which when we really look at our schedule practically, there’s things that we can rearrange.
17:04 And it really helps, I think to myself, oh, it makes sense. Walk with my friend, do this, this, and this. And then I look and I say, you know what? It’s already so much in a week. So I look at it in my own schedule per day, per week when I just know that I need more time to relax or I need extra time to finish work or to clean up the house or really practically speaking. So we can look at this per morning, per day, per afternoon, per week, per month, per season, per year. How many times, what’s reasonable in terms of visiting with family members or doing these trips or get togethers with friends? So we need to just look at how much too much when we’re already expected to maintain our health every day, our works every day, our family, every day.
17:56 We just want to be really practical and schedule less, right? We want to prevent stress at the very seed. And so part of that means being offloading work or not taking as much on or saying no more.
#2. Lessen our expectations for things having to go a certain way
The second thing, and this is one of the ones that can require a little bit more rewiring over time, is to lessen our expectations for things having to go a certain way. So expectations is very rigid and rigidity. If you think about when you’re feeling stressed, there’s a rigidity in your body and your shoulders go up. When we relax more, there’s more of that flow. There’s more resistance. Stress means this happened. I don’t like it. This isn’t what I expected. I didn’t expect him to say that in the meeting. I didn’t expect my boss to say this or I didn’t expect this traffic to come. So this resistance creates the stress response where our mind tells our body, now we have to go into stress.
19:03 So it starts to secrete all those different hormones, all those different chemicals things start to again, that cascade effect to prevent the stress we want to go in into life and we could remind ourselves this, this can be a morning daily mantra that we don’t have to be so rigid about our expectations for the day. We can literally start to teach ourselves things may flow in a different way and maybe it’s actually going to work out better than I imagined, or there’s more that I don’t really know about. There’s more than I can see. And so when we start to have more of this attitude of flow, which for many of us can feel like a big training, I know it was for me, we don’t feel that gripping, that resistance, that I don’t like this. That really creates the stress response. So just notice in your day or reflect back even in the past 24 hours where there was a little bit of a resistance.
19:59 Maybe the restaurant where you really wanted to eat was closed, or maybe you had a very different idea than your husband or your wife or your partner or your friend what you were going to talk about over dinner or how the afternoon was going to go or whatever it was. And notice if we can just be more open and present and alive in that moment. This is where the work of Eckhart Tolle is really powerful. Just being alive and alert versus disappointed. Oh, I thought this was going to happen. Those expectations lead to stress. So we just want to notice where resistance comes up and we want to really drop it. And then number three, this goes back to something really tangible that we can start to cue into is that stress response of what’s happening in our body at the very beginning. So let’s say our child goes into a tantrum in the store, we expected them to behave or we don’t like this.
21:03 Notice what’s happen’s happening to your breath. Notice what’s happening to your heart rate. Notice which muscles literally tighten in your body. For me, it often is around my shoulders and my lower belly. I tighten my midsection. It’s like this resistance I have to put on this kind of armor to go into this experience or to get through. So the first step is to really just notice the patterns, because if we don’t notice the patterns, then we can’t change them. It may be played out a little bit more. You start to notice, oh, this is the time where I really do want that cookie. Or I start to notice that I feel this intense craving for sugar or for those salty chips or whatever it is. We just want to start to notice the pattern in the first place. I didn’t really notice stress until I started to cue into it, and I started to notice again where I read here, 57% of us respondents feel paralyzed when I would feel stressed.
22:02 It was almost like this out of body experience a little bit where I started to feel out of control things just it was almost like I was watching myself from a distance. So once we start to notice, we go into the next step, which is to soothe that stress response before we go forward. This is self-regulation. This means that it’s the very beginning, right? We still have an opportunity to quell before we go into that full stress response. So some of the trauma experts and some of them that have come on the show and will link to some of their shows in the show notes have talked about moving your eyes across the room, like staying really present or naming five things in the room to stay really here right now before we go down the cascade effect into the narrative, into the story. We stay right here.
22:57 I’ve had an expert talk about filling the bottoms of your feet, staying in the room, taking some deep breaths. For me, it’s really that heart-based breathing that we teach in our heart. Aligned meditation or breathing into your belly, getting yourself putting the full focus on self-regulation, meaning getting towards neutral equanimity in your body is really, really important because the mind if you start to quell the mind and say, oh, well maybe let me combat this with more positive thoughts. The problem’s already in the mind your mind’s had a resistance to what happened. So first, we need to calm the body. When the body’s calmer, when the body’s back online, then we can come back into the thoughts, into the emotions and to have more of a common sense approach or more or more rational or more wide expansive. But if we’re really just so in disequilibrium in the body, then it keeps cascading and it keeps getting worse.
23:59 And now we’re going to get that very real effect on our immunity, on our endocrine system. Everything’s going to start to tank. So first we have to notice that this is happening in the first place. That’s a separate step. And then we take the steps to self-regulate. Now, it does help to go into the day having meditated. I’m a big proponent of that, but in the moment, we’re not going to be able to just move away from our child who’s tantruming and do a 10 minute meditation. So this could happen in a couple of moments where I say to my child, and I’ve gotten pretty good at this, I need a moment. Or I don’t even say it to them, I literally just go in the bathroom and they’ll be pounding on the door. But I just take a moment to calm myself down and to take some deep breaths, and it really helps me not get swept up in their tantrums and in the stress of being a mother and running a busy household.
24:53 When I regulate myself and I’m more calm, they calm down a lot faster. I notice that very much. So we want to notice it. Then we want to soothe ourselves ideally before we speak, before we go outside of ourselves into the outside world. Because we may not be so proud of our responses, we may have to backtrack and apologize and say, I was really stressed. I shouldn’t have sent that text or blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. We want to really call it in first. And this can be done in just a few seconds. Sometimes it takes a few minutes, but it’s definitely doable in our lives. And it stops that really elevated stress response, which is so dangerous to our health and to our relationships and to our vitality. The next practical way that we can start to prevent stress is we start to appreciate what is instead of wishing things were different.
25:48 So we talked about having less expectations, but also just being more appreciative for life and what shows up. So a grateful heart is less of a stressed heart. So let’s say, and it takes time to rewire, but let’s say our restaurant is small or seemingly small, but can feel like a big deal in the moment. It’s out of our favorite entree. It’s out of our favorite dish. Oh, we can breathe into, oh, that feeling and then shift pretty quickly. We go into the flow of calling it back into our hearts. It’s a very heart-based emotion appreciation. Okay, well, let’s try something else. I’m appreciative. I get to be here at the restaurant. I get to be with family, or I get to be with friends and look outside. I’m appreciative. Where I live, where I live, just there’s research around this from the HeartMath Institute.
26:43 Three seconds of shifting into appreciation just a few seconds, three to seven seconds, shifts us from that negative mental loop, which takes us deeper and deeper into stress. We want to break those egoic patterns. Appreciations really appreciate, very expansive, and it doesn’t have to relate to that moment. In that moment, we can look across at our child and just feel appreciative for loved ones. We can feel appreciative when we look out and we see a beautiful tree or whatever it is. So we want to stop the thought loops and go into something we appreciate. And the stress comes again from the mind. It’s not the actual incidences, but it’s how the mind keeps going. So we want to stop patterns. And I know what’s been helpful for me is having a few things in my really easy that I can recall, that I’m appreciative for my kids, loved ones, my husband, the land around where we have in Hawaii and so forth.
27:45 And so when I start to feel like I’m going to go over the cliff into that negativity and those stories and those narratives which make me more stressed, I pull it back for a moment. I self-regulate. I take some deep breaths, and then I focus on something that makes me feel appreciation. And then I come back into the situation or dealing with the tantrum again, this can all be done in three to seven seconds. It’s really quick or into that work email or whatever I need to deal with. And then the next one is linked to a piece of research I found where 51% of us adults engage in prayer when faced with a challenge or stressful situation. And these adults found that it really did help them. And of course, it depends on your spiritual beliefs, but it’s around this idea of surrender stress and that resistance.
28:42 We start to feel like this is all bearing down on us. It feels so serious. Certain situations can feel far more dire than they actually are. And sometimes, of course there are situations which are quite serious. But what we want to do is take a moment to give it away, to have that moment. What the yogis talk about is surrender, right, and surrendering to a higher power to spirit, the universe, whatever our spiritual beliefs are, and to realize that we aren’t in charge of everything and we aren’t meant to be in charge of everything. There’s a sense of relief in that sometimes we have to remind ourselves we aren’t responsible for everything. We aren’t responsible for our loved one’s, happiness. We aren’t responsible. The thing we feel is pressure as parents, that our kids aren’t going to be screwed up and they’re going to have these lives.
29:34 But ultimately all we can do is love them and give them our best and guidance. And same thing with our spouse and our loved ones and our friends. We’re not responsible for everything. We’re not responsible for things working out completely, perfectly. So you can see how it all starts to tie together. And for me, I am big into prayer as well and just handing things over and it really feels lighter, the lighter load, or just to realize that it doesn’t all bear down on us. So practically speaking, remember that a big takeaway in the show today is that we want to prevent stress. We have other shows about dealing with stress and helping mitigate stress and stress and eating and other more nuanced approaches to this huge stress topic. But today, it’s about preventing it. How do we prevent it? How do we stay in our normal, healthy, flowing, more open, natural state, kindness, love, softness, intuition.
30:37 So the first is to create more time. It’s very practical for activities. Say no more. Just create more space so that you enjoy the things that you’re doing so it’s not hustling from one thing to the next so that you don’t really enjoy your day. I remember going on a trip with another couple, and this is before we had kids, and it was to Northern California, and it was like getting from one thing, one vineyard and tasting the wine, rushing to the next thing, going to this hike. And it was this constant hustle. And I remember just thinking to myself, this doesn’t feel good to me, but just think about how that plays out in life. Or we feel this heaviness of obligations and other people expect us to do things. And honestly, if you can just cut out less, you will actually enjoy the things that you do more and you’ll be more present with those around you.
31:31 Number two, really to have less expectations. Notice that we expect in microwaves and microwaves for life to be a certain way. And then resistance builds, and then the stories come. And then micro moments of stress. This wasn’t supposed to happen. That machine, that technology wasn’t supposed to break down. My coffee was supposed to be this way. When we just have this more open approach to life. And of course this comes with training, we just have to remind ourselves, be more open. Let life unfold can be our mantra at the beginning of the day, right? When we have less expectations and less resistances, we definitely will feel less stressed.
#3. Notice that physical response
Number three, we want to notice that physical response we’re wired or nervous systems have become wired. Notice when the heart races, notice when the muscles clench. Notice that’s the third step.
#4. Regulate Yourself
32:28 And then fourth, regulate ourselves. That’s the most important thing on the to-do list in that moment. Take some deep breaths, take a break, look across the room, feel your feet right, go into your heart. Whatever it is to kind of get out of your head. And the stories regulate the body is the most important thing in that moment as it starts to come up.
#5. Be appreciative
And then number five, you want to be appreciative. Appreciative for what is here versus feeling stressed when something is in a certain way or what is not here. It can be for what’s around you. You can have certain things in mind like your loved one or your child’s smile or your spouse’s hug. Expand out of that minutia of feeling so serious and getting it down with stress, with the expansion of appreciation.
#6. Surrender more of what you can’t control
And then number six, surrender more of what you can’t control. Surrender to higher power, surrender, and remind yourselves that you’re not responsible for everything working perfectly, right?
33:27 At the end of the day, inner security and inner peace comes from the inside. It’s not from everything unfolding perfectly. It’s really stressful to live life trying to control everything. So the more we surrender and the easier it is to smile and to have a more easygoing relationship with life. So to support you in all of these ways, practically, we do have the guided meditations. We do have a lot of other podcasts related to this. We do have foods that support a more stress-free mindset. Things that are more supportive to your gut health and your body. So I encourage you to check out the show notes over in my sauna.com where we will definitely link to a lot more. There’s so many ways to really support you, this really, really important topic of stress. So keep writing to me, keep letting me know how I can continue to connect with you and support. Over on the website, there’s a section where you can write questions that I will hopefully answer on upcoming show. You can find me on social media beyond this YouTube channel after watching this or Apple on at Kimberly Snyder. And as always, I’ll be back here Monday for our next interview show. So thank you so much and sending you so much love, so much support, and look forward to connecting soon. Namaste.