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5 Facts to Help Own Your Stress

I’ve been attending multiple mindfulness workshops at the wonderful UTDallas Center for Brain Health, which delve into the brain science, benefits, and techniques behind breath and meditation, but they also all seem to address one thing that permeates everyday life: stress.

Fun fact: the #1 reported stress inducer is dealing with difficult people.

This struck me because the truth is we deal with people every day, and many of them are different from us, so it’s inevitable we won’t all agree or join hands to sing kumbaya (as much as I love the image of some of my “difficult people” awkwardly attempting to do so). So why does this simple reality stress us out so much? I believe it’s because as individuals we aren’t given the opportunity and tools to care for ourselves, so then we have a considerable amount of people making each other even more stressed! It’s a terrible conundrum.

An important lesson I’ve learned is that in order to deal with stress, we need to OWN it, or in other words, understand it. Once we understand the mechanics of stress, the increased awareness helps us to manage it, and then we are better able to care for others and understand them and what may stress them out. Easier said than done, I know. But, I’ll make the first part easy for you by laying out some facts about stress, courtesy of HeartMath:

  1. Your body doesn’t care if it’s a big stress or a little one. Regardless of significance (whether you break a nail or avert a car accident), stress will physiologically affect us in the same way. Stress reactions start a chain of 1,400 biochemical events in your body. As you can imagine, multiple occurances can leave someone feeling overwhelmed and drained.

  2. Stress makes smart people do not so smart things. Ever, under pressure of a deadline, send that important email to the wrong person, or in a rush to get out the door forget your wallet? This is what researchers call “cortical inhibition”, when stress inhibits your brain so it’s not functioning coherently. When the brain, heart, and nervous system are all in harmony, on the other hand, we are operating at our peak performance.

  3. People can become numb to their stress. We can physiologically experience stress (elevated heart rate, increased levels in cortisol), but in our minds, we have no idea it’s happening. Eventually, because symptoms go unaddressed, our health suffers, manifesting itself through overreacting, making poor decisions, or even warranting a trip to the doctor.

  4. We can control how we respond to stress. Through simple practices, we can actually rewire our brains to better respond to stress, through things like mindfulness and breathing techniques. These are scientifically validated methods to improve our responses to stress, no longer letting stress control us.

  5. The best strategy is to handle stress in the moment. Millions of us use the “binge and purge” method of relieving stress: holding onto stress all day and then trying to release it at your yoga or kickboxing class. The reality is the best time to deal with stress is in the present because we can counteract that physiological stress response as opposed to waiting until it’s already happened.

What triggers stress in your daily life and are you even recognizing it? By learning the way stress works, you can better address it, preferably in the moment with proven techniques. If this resonates with you and you’d like for you or your organization to learn more, please reach out or simply share your thoughts by leaving a comment or contacting me at

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