Ending Stress Is In The Palm Of Your Hand

By Don Goewey

Seventy-eight percent of Americans were already struggling with stress when the economy took a nose dive.  Now stress seems to be completely out of control.  You might think it ridiculous or even insulting if a neuroscientist were to tell you that the one thing you actually control inside as you face the world outside is your level of stress.  It’ true and it is a truth that can set you free.

Stress is happening in you far more than to you.  Stress is fear.  Biologically, it takes some form of fear for the brain to trigger a stress reaction.  For modern human beings, the most prevalent form of fear triggering stress reactions is psychological fear.  Psychological fear is the way anxious, pessimistic, and worried thinking turns into wild and even destructive emotions that perceive a world out to crush you, sending the body into an uproar. We human beings are capable of generating all sorts of stressful events purely in our heads, with nearly all of it generated by mere thoughts.  This is what Mark Twain illuminated when he said: My life has been as series of terrible calamities, some of which actually happened.

Fearful, stress-provoking thinking floods the brain with stress hormones that, when persistent, become toxic and cause higher brain networks to shrink. The higher brain is what makes you a creative problem solver, sustains positive emotions, and enables you to forge constructive relationships. It provides the intelligence you need to navigate a bad economy. At the same, stress hormones also cause the primitive brain to expand, making you reactive, edgy, aggressive and depressed.  This drains you of the savvy it will take to transcend the problems Wall Street made.

Take heart, all the damage stress has caused is reversible.  The approach to recovery could not be simpler. Below is a tool to move you in this new direction.

Step 1 — Push the Clear Button: Imagine a button at the center of your palm that sends a biofeedback signal to calm the part of the primitive brain that generates stress reactions. Push the button and keep pressing it as you follow through with Step 2.

Step 2 — Count to three: The primitive brain has the intelligence of a two-year-old, and like a two-year-old, it needs to be distracted. Your grandparents’ advice to count to three does the trick. But here’s today’s modernization on grandma’s advice: To further distract your primitive two-year-old from acting out, imagine each number as a color. See 1 as red, 2 as blue, and 3 as green, taking a slow, easy breath with each number you count.

Step 3 — Let Go: On the final breath, let go. Feel your brain relax. Bring your attention to the present moment. Be right here, right now and smile gently, from the inside. Then go about your business with fearless self-confidence.

By following these steps, you’ve escaped a debilitating stress reaction. Neurologically, you’ve switched control of your brain from primitive to higher neural networks where creative intelligence kicks in.

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