What if you had the power to transform your anxiety into a calming guide instead of a relentless monster? Picture yourself learning to manage life's stressors with effective tools from breathwork to mind-dumping. I'm your host, Katie Rössler, a licensed therapist specializing in burnout and hidden grief. In this enlightening episode, we dive deep into understanding the amygdala's role in triggering fight or flight responses and how to tame our anxious minds that can misinterpret everyday stressors as severe threats.
Brace yourself as I share my personal journey of grappling with anxiety and how I harnessed it, nurturing my anxious mind into a calmer state. Learn about powerful visualization techniques that can help in combating stress and anxiety. I will also introduce you to the Stress Less Society, an accountability group designed to equip you with stress management skills to navigate life's challenges with ease. So, are you ready to unlock a more balanced and less stressful life effectively? Let's begin the journey together.
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Welcome to the Balance Code Podcast, a place where you have permission to step outside the hamster wheel of day-to-day life and learn tools to create more balance. My name is Katie Russell. I'm a licensed therapist and burnout and hidden grief specialist. I support ambitious, goal-driven people who are ready to get off the one-way train, to burnout and start to enjoy life again to the fullest. Oh and, by the way, I'm a mom of three, an ex-pat living in Germany who's still learning the language, and an entrepreneur Living. My balance code is what keeps me able to work in incredible ways without burning up. So let's find your balance code. Welcome back to the Balance Code Podcast. Today we're talking about how to manage stress and anxiety. We tend to go hand in hand and many of us struggle with anxiety on a regular basis. So how do we manage the stress and the anxiety? But before we get into that, I want to remind you that the stress less society doors are open. This is an accountability group to teach you stress management skills during a time of year that is the hardest October through April, cold, rainy, blah, gray, darker outside. You get my drift. You meet once a month talking about how to better manage the stress in your life. I'm giving you tools teaching you tapping, cognitive, behavioral strategies, how to regulate your nervous system. Basically, all that means is I'm giving you a large toolbox of how to manage stress on the day to day. Then in the group you've got the accountability of using those tools, practicing them, trying things out, seeing what works, what doesn't. On top of that, every Monday you get a five to seven minute audio in a telegram channel called the Stress Less Space, where you learn even more tools to support you that week and how to manage the stress you're going through. If this sounds like a group you want to know more about, then look in the show notes at the Stress Less Society and see if it's the right fit for you. We all have busy lives and I have created this group and program to make sure that it fits even the busiest of schedules. Check that out in the show notes. Let's get into managing stress and managing anxiety and the challenges we face with the two. Think about the fact that there's this little almond-shaped part of your brain, kind of in the center bottom area. It's called the amygdala. I love this part of the brain because it's just so fascinating. It's so small and yet it does so much. The amygdala is where our fight or flight, freeze or fawn response is held. It's the caveman brain, in a way, and it's so interesting to me because it really rules how many of us respond. It rules how we react, how we think, what emotions we feel like. It is super powerful, but yet it's not the part of our brain. We want to be that powerful. We want to be able to think in the future and go okay, what will be the consequences of this? If I say or do this thing hey, what are the things I need to prepare for versus? Let me just be reactive in the moment. The amygdala likes the drama it loves when there is urgency and something that just really tips it off that there could be danger. Even if it's a caterpillar, not a snake, the amygdala will act like it's always a snake, because you just never know, and when we have a anxious mind, a mind that tends towards anxiety, even more so, everything's a snake. What makes this challenging is that our brains are wired to look for negative things. Right, it wants to protect us, it wants to keep our species alive, so we're going to just watch out for anything bad that could be happening, anything that shows signs that it could go in a bad direction. We're aware of it. And when you have an anxious mind, where the amygdala and hippocampus in this area of the brain that's just like ah, is just reactive, you see way more negative things easily. All right, thank you. Thank you, byebye. Yeah, that's interesting. Yeah, if that were a Fer kolladimp, then what happened to the male molecular tickylene Braden? That is not to say that that can't change. I'm just saying you have a predisposition towards seeing even more things as negative. You are able to create a negative story out of thin air. I know this because for a long time this is how my brain worked. We see something very simple. There's nothing wrong, but our brains will say, well, this could happen and this could happen and that can happen, and I wanna prevent this from happening. So I'm just not even gonna go there, I'm not gonna try it, I'm not gonna even set myself up for failure. So this anxiety takes over. Now, when we look at about stress, we know that there are stressors in our lives, right, there's people who cause stress, there is situations that cause stress, there are crises that happen, and so we have stress in our lives. Our body responds with stress. Well, if you already have a brain that is predisposed to let me worry and create anxiety, and let me respond with even more anxiety, so the anxiety cycle keeps on, then when you come into contact with a stressor in your life on a day-to-day basis, your brain will be activated at a higher level. Right, it'll just be like whoa, this is bad, we have to do something right now, and it is very hard to just be calm and sit still. We feel like we have to take action. And we feel like we have to take action because fight, flight, freeze, fawn. Our response mechanism is in full effect and it needs to do something. It knows it needs to do something. The adrenaline surges happen, we have tunnel vision, our short-term memory is shot, we are in it to run and save our life, fight, freeze and hope they don't see us or just play dead. That's truly how that area of the brain likes to work. So, as you can see, managing stress and anxiety is extremely challenging, because everyday stressors that maybe impact somebody with way less magnitude will hit somebody with anxiety out of like from a scale of three to like a 25. And it's a 10 point scale, okay. So what do we do about this? Katie Like got it, it's bad, and I'm here and I have stress and I have anxiety. So what do I do? Well, my own journey of figuring this out was uncomfortable. My brain really liked the drama. It was super addicted to being preventative by worrying about any outcome, any possibility, any scenario. I would even create things like if I say this and then he does this or she says that, or then this happened, then I will do this and I will feel my body start to react, my heart will start to raise, I will start to feel myself like spinning out a little bit in my mind. Because that's the power of visualization when we're worrying, we are visualizing a negative event happening, we are planning it out and our body goes okay, we're in it. It doesn't know the difference. So one of the things I had to really get a hold of was my brain and how much I worried. But this is the first baby step I had to start with. Instead of going, stop thinking that. Let's think about positive things. Change your mindset. I would allow the scenario to play out and I would keep saying to myself this didn't really happen. This didn't really happen. And I would put my hand on my chest and I'd either pat to create a bit of vibration of like I'm here right now, or I would rub in the soothing like motion, just be like I'm safe, everything's okay, and you can repeat that as you're going. This didn't really happen, I'm safe and it's okay. I even would get to the point cause I would imagine horrible things happening to my kids and I would say I'm so sorry that happened, everything's okay. And I know that sounds weird, cause it didn't happen, but it's almost like I just needed acknowledgement. I'm so sorry, I'm so glad that didn't really happen, I'm so sorry you had to feel that. And the more that I started to acknowledge my worry, stress and fear as something that exists and the more that I nurtured it and loved on it, I started noticing it came up a lot less. What I needed in the moment for my anxious mind, when my stress was high, was love and nurturing and comfort. I needed comfort and I was very quick to be able to go let me go eat some chocolate, let me go have some salty food, let me go get that glass of wine. At the end of the day that turns into a second glass. I was the queen of using food and drink to comfort myself and then I realized, well, that's not making it better. So I started with what it is I really needed and I thought about with my girls when they're upset and when they're worried and when they're scared, what do they actually need? They need acknowledgement of their fears, not to be told, oh that won't happen, don't worry about it, and placate them, but to really acknowledge that is scary. Oh my gosh, that would be awful if that happened. Yeah, okay, you're okay, you're safe now. And it hasn't happened. So what are some things you can do right now? Like I give them back control, and so that's what I had to do with myself. I had to acknowledge the anxiety. I had to acknowledge the truth that I felt in all of it and that my body had gone through it by worrying and thinking about it and then going okay, what's one thing I can do right now that will help that from happening and that activates our prefrontal cortex, which is like our forehead, basically right, like the front area of our brain that doesn't finish developing until our mid-20s. It used to be like early 20s and then now they do more research, it's like mid-20s I kind of like to say mid to late 20s, but somewhere around then it is finished developing. So our ability to think in the future, to go what might happen if I do this? And not worrying, but in a like hey, natural consequences, this could happen, okay. So I don't want to do that. Let me think about this. We want to activate that area of the brain, but you cannot do that until you calm the amygdala. That little almond in your head needs love, and I know that sounds like some of you are like okay, katie, but I am serious. It needs comfort when that area of the brain calms down, taking deep breaths, reminding yourself you're safe. I'm so sorry that happened. I'm so glad that didn't really happen in real life. Everything's fine, I'm safe. Right now. Let me comfort myself through healthy ways and not numb this, okay, okay. So what is one step I can take right now to change that outcome? What is the one thing I can control right now? Okay, you know what I can control this. Okay, I'm gonna go do that one thing and if my mind starts worrying again, it's okay, I can comfort myself, I know it's okay, I'm safe. Then we give that amygdala what it needs calm, peace, you're okay. And it might be that your stress cycle is activated so much and more than likely because of the anxiety level you experience on a regular basis that things like going for a brisk walk meaning like walk with a good pace or doing some jumping jacks in the moment or let's say, hey kitty, I have to be really careful with exercise right now or, you know, knee injury or things like that I find things like even pushups against the wall are helpful. Something where you are able to up your cardio a bit, up your heart rate, and then bring it down through deep breathing, allows the stress cycle to be completed. I mean, think about it back in caveman time when we were, you know, attacked by something. We would run, right, we would run, we would fight it, it would be done, we'd be like huh. So we had our cardio system kicked into gear to react. But when we're like sitting at our computer all day or stuck in traffic, you can't do that. So you have to complete the cycle at a different time in the day. And I'm not saying you need to like go for a sprint like you're running from something, but you do need to increase your heart rate, allow that stuff to flush out, allow the hormones to flush out, allow it all to just go and then relax. My runners out there know this, you guys know this too. When I go for a run and I do it with intention of like, let me release that stuff there's a point where my mind gets clear and Dorphins dopamine, thank you. And then I like stop and stretch and I just feel, huh, so you can go for a bike ride. Like I said, you can do some things. You can just play soccer outside in the garden with your kid right, like. You can just do something that raises up that energy level to go okay, I'm releasing this, I'm getting this out of my system. And even if you don't have anxiety, you need to be doing this on a regular basis. So this is relevant to all of us, but I have a feeling a lot of the people who listen to this struggle with some anxiety, have some worries and fears, some things that get kicked up. So it's important that we have some tools on how to manage the stress and the anxiety better, and sometimes we're going to be nurturing ourselves right, giving ourselves some comfort to calm ourselves down, to think about the thing we can do next. We're going to be making sure that we complete that stress cycle, whatever that looks like for you, I'm sorry. Breathwork and journaling that's not what's going to help. If you're going to do breathwork, then you're going to do really intentional deep breaths in and deep breaths out, blowing out through your mouth, like I want deep breath in full on, fill up your lungs as much as you can, deep breath out really intensely, doing that and doing that for five to ten breaths and then bringing it down to less intense. And you can do that box breathing right, the breathing in for the count of four or six, holding it for two to three and breathing out six to eight, right, and then holding two to three and doing that. And lastly, I would really love you to start mind dumping. Sounds funny, doesn't it? I want you to get a piece of paper and a pen or a pencil and or marker whatever you have around you, crayon and just mind dump right All the stuff, all the stuff you're worried about, all the stuff you're thinking about, all the stuff on your to-do list, all the stuff that you need to plan. Mind dump it, dump it all out on the paper. When we're holding on to all of that, it's that mental clutter, we're exhausting ourselves and then we're adding to our stress levels and we're adding to our anxiety. So, the more that we can just get it all out, have a more bird's eye view to what it is that's on our plate and go, okay, these things are grouped together, they go over here. These worries and stresses, they're part of my circle of concern. I don't really have any influence over them, so I just need to comfort myself through those worries and stresses and put those over here. It's almost like compartmentalizing but not avoiding right, like I'm gonna address you later, but just not right now. These things I can do right now, this type of thing I can plan right now or I can make that call later on, and it just simplifies the process completely. That mind dump can really calm your mind, really really calm your mind. So those are your three things for managing stress and anxiety. And please know you're not alone. I find that some of the most successful people, like the people I like to read about or follow and listen to, when they're completely honest, they share about their high levels of anxiety and how they're managing their stress and balancing it all, and I'm like, ah, okay, I'm normal. So please know that you are and if you see people around you who look like they're managing their stress better or don't seem to be phased by the stress, I just tell you right now challenge yourself, because stress management is a life skillset, just like being a good communicator, and you can be an introvert and be a great communicator and still not really enjoy it and deep inside, feel the anxiety. But you have learned the tools and skillset and you've practiced enough that you're like I got this, I don't enjoy it. It's the same with stress. I, katie, might look like super calm on the outside, but inside I am not happy. I'm not like, oh, this is a breeze, I'm at the beach. No, I am not. But I have learned the stress management tools that work for me and that's what I want you to discover for you. Okay, so go try out those three tools. Let me know what worked for you, tag me on social media or send me an email at info at katyrustlercom, and let me know which of these tools you're gonna start trying and practicing so they become part of your toolkit. And I really encourage you to check out the Stress Less Society in the description below, as well as the Stress Less Space I'll make sure to have info about that below as well. And that's my monthly membership, where you can learn one tool every week on Monday through a private telegram channel, you can go back and listen to the audios over and over, as long as you're part of the membership. So check that out too. I'll have a link for that in the description below as well. Okay, here's to finding our balance code ["Balance Code"]. Thank you so much for listening to today's episode. If you have a moment, please leave a rating or review so that others can find this podcast who are looking for support, just like you. Let's connect on Instagram at katydotrustler or at balancecodepodcast, or check down in the show notes to find ways that we can work together and see other offerings that I have for you at this time. And, as always, here's to finding our balance code. ["balance Code"].