Attuned Leadership for Women Podcast
Stress to Strength Series, Part 4
Unfuckwithable Stress Resilience Using the Somatic Attunement Method™
**This episode is the fourth in the “Stress to Strength” Series!**
Guided by Dr. Crystal Frazee, the creator of the Somatic Attunement Method™, this episode is the pinnacle of the series. She reveals the practical knowledge you need so that stress resilience feels doable in your busy life.
She connects the dots between understanding your body’s cues of stress (shared in Episode 009) and how to know which nervous system regulation techniques to use (from Episode 010) for the best stress management with the least amount of time or energy investment.
Get ready to elevate your stress-busting game as a professional woman and discover the secrets to unlocking your internal resilience. Stress does not have to take a toll on your performance, relationships, or career potential when you understand these tried and true Stress Resilience skills.
Tune in and learn how to use the Somatic Attunement Method™ to be unfuckwithable and confident that you can weather any storm that comes your way!
.Quotes from the Episode:
“When stress is knocking at the door, your nervous system responds in predictable ways for you. And your patterns have been repeating themselves, most likely for decades” Dr. Crystal Frazee, PT
“The difference in medium stress from what I’ve described in low stress is that we’re started in a state of higher activation. We were doing bigger movements, making bigger sounds. There’s more intensity in your body that you’re matching. Then once you allow that to move through your body, you’ve dissipated some charge. Then your brain and your body become more resilient. These natural processes are so primal. It’s just that in our busy modern lives, we’ve lost the knowledge and really the self-permission to do what’s necessary for our own well-being.” Dr. Crystal Frazee, PT
[00:02:17] Stress Map and Nervous System Regulation.
[00:05:23] Completing the Stress Map to be Unfuckwithable.
[00:11:31] Fine-tune stress management techniques.
[00:14:45] Low-stress techniques and exercise.
[00:17:28] Sleep, light exposure, and stress management.
[00:29:38] Responding to medium stress levels.
[00:34:31] Regulation practices reduce high stress.
[00:35:23] Break Room Therapy.
[00:35:05] Meet intense energy with movement and manual pressure.
[00:41:22] Stress resilience empowers women.
Mentioned In This Episode:
Other Episodes in the Stress to Strength Series
- Part 1, Episode 008, Build Capacity Management
- Part 2, Episode 009, Create Your Stress Map
- Part 3, Episode 010, Master Nervous System Regulation with Shawnee Thornton Hardy
– Break Room Therapy in Grand Rapids, MI
– Swannick Blue Light Blocking Glasses to Improve Sleep
Get updates about my upcoming book! REVIVE: The Working Woman’s Unexpected Guide to Recovering from Burnout
FREE Audio Training How to Run Your Day Without It Running You
FREE PDF Training Stress & Overwhelm Relief Game Plan
Prefer to Read? Here’s the transcript!
*Just a heads up – the provided transcript is likely to not be 100% accurate
Welcome back. This is Episode 011, which is the fourth episode of the Stress to Strength Series. I’m your host, Dr. Crystal Frazee, and the creator of the Somatic Attunement Method, which I’m teaching you in this series.
Every client I’ve ever had has benefited from understanding the physiology of stress and how to build stress resilience with confidence and most importantly, practicality. So in this series, I’ve pulled back the curtain and I’m giving you samples of the skills I teach to achieve that. Today’s episode is the pinnacle of that work. We’re going to connect the dots between what I shared in Episode 009, ‘How to Create Your Stress Map’ and Episode 010, ‘Master Nervous System Regulation.’ So you leave this episode knowing exactly what to do, no matter what level of stress you’re feeling.
Having the skills that I’m sharing with you today will change your career trajectory. Your family and your colleagues will notice something is different about you, but they won’t quite be sure what it is. When you know how to recover from whatever comes your way, including the daily stressors you face, you get to show up as your most powerful, grounded, focused leader at work and at home.
Hey, hey, I am so excited about sharing Episode 011 with you. Before we dive in, let’s quickly recap where we’ve left off. I’m going to briefly remind you of the main pieces of shows 009 and 010, hopefully just to jog your memory. If you haven’t listened to those at all, I highly recommend that you make a point to go back and catch those because these all build on each other. If I had had the skills that I’m sharing in this Stress to Strength Series when I was 20 years old and now I’m in my mid-40s, I believe my entire life trajectory would have been altered. I am so passionate about sharing this paradigm shift with you because I know how much it can help you too.
So as a reminder of what we covered in Episode 009, I talked you through how to listen to your body’s cues for stress at high, medium, and low-stress states. Here’s a snippet from that Episode.
“And the beauty of having a Stress Map is that once you know what to pay attention to, then you have the skills to be responsive. The problem is that most people really don’t know what to pay attention to and they don’t until their body is somehow screaming at them and they’re forced to. What is so fascinating about this to me is the way that you individually experience low-stress levels, medium-stress levels, and high-stress levels is actually consistent. It’s like a stress signature of your nervous system. It’s unique to you. The way that you experience stress is unlike the way I experience stress or anyone that you know experiences stress. Your unique stress response is because of this intricate interplay of your nervous system, your past experiences, and your coping mechanisms. And because it has this pattern, you can map it out.”
Cool, huh? In that episode, I gave you just the first step in making your Stress Map because I know after doing this work with clients over the years that if you’re new to listening to your body, it takes time to tease out its messages and what they mean. There are hidden nooks and crannies of how stress shows up for you in your body for you to discover. And to remind you, some of those messages are physical, some are emotional, and some are changes in cognition that are unique to you. And some are very loud and obvious while others are subtle. But for sure, when stress is knocking at the door, your nervous system responds in predictable ways for you. And your patterns have been repeating themselves, most likely for decades. So the work that you’ve been doing since Episode 009 is getting an understanding of what cues your body gives you that indicate low, medium, or high stress. And we’re going to build on that foundation today because knowing what level of stress your body is in is the only way to know how to properly respond to it so that it’s equalizing and so that you’ll prevent stress from accumulating.
I hope you’re following me here. So if you’re feeling high stress, but you respond to that with a strategy that would only reduce low stress, then stress is going to accumulate physiologically. The stress chemicals are not going to go where you want them to go. They’re going to stay. Your body is basically marinating inflammatory cells, the cortisol is going to get stored in fat cells. It’s just the opposite of what you want. You want the stress chemicals to be processed through your body and eliminated. You want to close the stress cycle so that there’s no negative effects.
Today, my goal is to guide you to elevate your stress-busting game by showing you how to complete the Stress Map. You’re going to draw the lines between how you respond to each level of stress. This, my friends, is the epitome of Stress Resilience. This is how you confidently know how to navigate whatever challenge may come your way.
Then to remind you, in Episode 010, we were joined by the incredible Shawnee Thornton Hardy. Together, we laid out a menu of simple body-focused techniques for nervous system regulation that not only fit easily into your daily routine, but that you can do in the middle of a meeting or when you’re in a space that you don’t want to draw attention to yourself. We completely obliterated in that show the idea that you needed to devote an hour a day for stress management. We shared our personal stories of the exact strategies that work for us.
To be direct, the whole show was intended to help you learn how to be in the here and now. When you’re in constant stress, you’re in survival mode. But to be present to the moment and the life that you’re working so hard to build, you have to step out of survival mode and literally signal to your nervous system that you’re not in danger.
Because I believe that repetition never hurts when you’re learning something new, I’m going to remind you of a few of the techniques that Shawnee and I shared. We talked you through anchoring techniques, which is when you feel your body in contact with a surface, usually a surface that’s holding you up like the ground or a chair. It’s very simple. If I do it right now, I’m sitting in a chair and I feel my hips in the chair and pressure on the back of my thighs. And I would just flood my awareness with that simple sensation of contact and just notice what it feels like and where I feel it in my body. And maybe I only do that for five seconds, but in a moment of really high activation where I can’t really think straight, that’s going to bring me back to the here and now. It’s going to take me from feeling stuck in my head and feeling highly anxious to where I am now dropping into my body. You take your attention somewhere below the neck.
We also talked to you about orienting, and that’s something that I use a lot. It’s a practice of scanning the space you’re in, the room you’re in. And if you’re not driving, you can do this now. You turn your neck left and right slowly, but you let your eyes move too. So it’s not just your head. You just go back and forth maybe three times, then allow your eyes to settle on something that gets your attention that’s easily in your view. And just allow yourself to name what you see. Is it an object, animate or inanimate? It doesn’t matter. Just notice it with your senses. It’s not good or bad or right or wrong. You’re just noticing what is in front of you. And by naming things, there’s the blue wall, there’s the white printer, there’s the black screen, there’s a warm light reflecting off of the whiteboard. Then I start to tell my brain I’m in a safe space. I’m connecting with my environment.
The next technique is self-touch. Touch is a basic human need. And when you’re stressed and activated in fight or flight mode, the simple touch of your palm to your body or your fingertips to your body can help your nervous system regulate. So in that environment where you’re not trying to call attention to yourself, you can just bring your hand to your cheek like rest your head in your hand. You can put your hand on your belly, or you can just rub your hands together. And the trick here is not just doing those motions, but actually being aware of the sensations that it creates. So feeling the contact, maybe my hand on my cheek is actually warm. I can notice the borders of my hand. It’s bringing you out of a state of activation and into something that’s happening right now.
Orienting, anchoring, touch. These are not just fancy buzzwords here, friends. They are tools that can become your trusty allies when you feel stress or actually distress. And these things can help you build resilience. You can do them anytime, anywhere.
So now I’m going to share a quick snippet from Episode 010 just to remind you of what Shawnee said about this.
“I think that that’s so that that brings hope for me and understanding that we have this neuroplasticity and we can develop these new neural pathways. And again, it’s just so much about the consistency and to keep coming back to it. And it is not about needing to do these hour practices. For me, when I really learned these tools and started to recognize that, oh, I can just do these little practices throughout the day, that rewires our brain to help us recognize that I’m here, I’m here in this moment, I’m okay. And that can really shift the way that you not only experience stress, but how you respond to stress.”
The other thing that Shawnee and I touched on in that show is that as a minority population, women are often denied the reality of their experience. That gaslighting creates a constant low-stress level and a form, I believe, of complex trauma. So nervous system regulation is essential for women’s well-being.
Also, I want you to know that regulation doesn’t always mean that you need to focus on being more calm, but sometimes it means that you need to know how to activate energy so that you can create boundaries or say no and express your emotions. Like Shawnee and I talked about you may need to express ‘rightful anger’ and you may need to activate your stress response so you come out of freeze so that you can do that effectively.
So dear leader, now’s the time we’re going to weave these two conversations from Episodes 009 and 010 to help you take it to the next step to fine tune these skills to shrink stress level that you’re feeling in your body in the moment with the corresponding body-focused techniques and some lifestyle shifts that will make you, as I like to say, “unfuckwithable,” which means having reliable internal resilience.
This is a little nerdy to ask, but if you wrote out your Stress Map, then have it handy with you. And if you didn’t do that in the previous episode, it’s okay. Either grab a sheet of paper or open your notes app on your phone. And I want you to have two columns on the left column. You’re just going to list your body’s cues that indicate low, medium and high stress level. So there’s column on the left side with three sections, low, medium and high. And then you’re going to have one column to the right. And that is the column where you’re going to list what practices or lifestyle shifts complement that stress tier. I have a reel on Instagram showing you what this looks like. So make sure that you go and check that out. You can find me at @drcrystalfrazee
Let’s take a second and just acknowledge that it’s not a one size fits all approach. So I can’t be prescriptive and tell you when you have low stress, do this. When you have high stress, do that. The key is really in recognizing your unique stress signals and then being curious and willing to experiment with ways that you can respond to dissolve that stress. Moving from Stress to Strength is about understanding your body, how it manifests stress, and then having some personalized techniques that most likely will evolve over time. What I’m doing now is different than what I did two years ago. So the path to resilience is unique and it’s up to you to figure out what goes with each tier.
Now throughout the rest of the show, I’m going to be sharing what mine looks like, and that’s just to inspire you with some ideas, but I want you to choose intuitively what works. And then remember you have to choose something that matches the capacity that you have at each level. You’re going to start filling in your Stress Map, that right side column, by thinking about your experience of low stress. We’re starting with low stress because that’s when you have the most resources and it’s the easiest to complete the stress cycle. You can think clearly, you could be creative, you have more energy. First, just ask yourself, what are the techniques you can think of that may help regulate your system under low stress? What is the go-to technique in your tool bag that you can have that will help you resolve that? And I want you to write your answers down as we go through this. You don’t need a ton of ideas. I want you to focus on coming up with two to three things in each category that you can experiment with over the next week. If you have questions, if you find something that’s just rocking it for you and you want to celebrate, if you are confused about what I’m saying, just reach out to me. Okay, I’m happy to help.
When I’m feeling low stress levels, I consider my exercise routine to be helpful and I’ll admit that it’s pretty basic. I herniated a disc in my low back. It’s been almost a year and a half and it’s kind of an ongoing disability for me. It limits what movement I can do and I really can’t lift weights. Lifting my kids, lifting dumbbells, all that makes it worse. I also can’t do a lot of bending so I’m not doing anything fancy here. I have a stair stepper. It has a built-in 14 minute routine and that’s what I focus on. I do it a couple of times a week. I also enjoy doing a virtual reality game on my headset called Quest and the game is called Supernatural. But basically, I feel like a superhero for 15 to 20 minutes bashing around these orbs that are coming at me and usually dancing to hip hop tunes. Those two activities when I’m in low stress levels are great because I get an endorphin release. I don’t have to exercise at a very high intensity. I’m just moving my body but positive chemicals are released and that counters the presence of stress chemicals like cortisol.
I consider my showers to be an integral part of my stress management and I take a shower almost every day for this purpose. I put on a hair cap and I stand in the shower sometimes with music and it just helps me ground and integrate. And when I’m in low stress that is the environment where I get the best ideas. And if I take that shower before bed it also helps me get the best most restful sleep.
Typically at lower stress levels I don’t need formal regulation techniques. I don’t need very robust things that I’m doing to manage my stress. That makes sense right? I’m basically just doing general wellness activities because there’s more adaptability and resilience naturally in the body system at low levels of stress. So you can ask yourself when you are at low levels of stress which lifestyle strategies are easiest for you to be consistent with.
Now there’s a couple of other things that personally I do that are lifestyle related that help me minimize the impact of stress in general. So every night about an hour before bed I take magnesium glycinate. It’s a supplement and it’s the most highly absorbable form of magnesium and it helps relax the muscles and relax the body which helps me get better sleep. But side note: consult your physician before making any lifestyle changes, especially adding supplements if you take any medications.
But let’s talk about sleep for a second. Sleep is critical in each stress tier. Sleep is always important but most likely when you’re facing low stress you have an easier time being consistent with those lifestyle behaviors that produce restful sleep. So take a second and ask yourself what rituals or behaviors help you get the best sleep.
I have things I do to protect my sleep quality that I do no matter what but I want to share them with you. I wear a pair of blue light blocking glasses at night. I put them on at about 8 30 or 9. I’ve been doing this since 2018. The brand that I use are called Swanwick and the style is Swanee’s I think. They help me sleep through the night so that I don’t wake up at 4 a.m. You know when you wake up and you’re like bing and you’re awake. Blue light can do that. It changes your melatonin levels and changes your sleep rhythm. What you need to understand is that even just turning on your bathroom light to go to the bathroom can be enough light to disrupt your sleep cycle. Now you might fall asleep fine but then later on it’s going to be disrupted and you can wake up and that’s because you need melatonin levels to be adequate in order to stay asleep and there’s a relationship between melatonin and cortisol where the light turning on drops melatonin which allows cortisol levels to rise so when cortisol level rises it changes blood sugar levels and all kinds of things in your body so this is all physiologic. If you have to have lights you know to see your way to walk through the house or because you’re reading a book at night or in the bathroom or nightlight or something then get some red bulbs. They’re less disruptive. They have less of the blue light waves but I do highly recommend looking into a pair of swanee’s blue light blocking glasses with the orange lenses.
That’s about all I want to say right now about low stress levels. Make sure you have some ideas that you’ve added into the column that match with the low stress state tier. What are your go-to nervous system regulation activities going to be? To be succinct about mine it’s focusing on sleep managing light exposure at night which includes turning off my device an hour before bed allowing myself to have my daily shower which helps me feel grounded and keeping the priority of regular exercise in my schedule.
Whatever you choose just make sure to keep it realistic and attainable. When you look at what you’ve written in your column I want you to feel a sense of confidence and your ability to stick with what you’ve written down. I don’t want you to look at it and feel a little bit of stress or hesitation. That’s really the opposite of what we’re trying to do. You should look at it and say yeah even if I’m busy even if I’m not feeling that good I can stick to this.
Now let’s jump into your Stress Map at medium stress levels. A few of the signs that I’m in medium stress so you know I was in low stress and now something’s changed in my body and it’s an indicator that now I’m in medium stress for me is that I’m not sleeping as well. I’m not waking up feeling as rested. It also matches with it being harder for me to put my phone down at night because I feel a sense of hypervigilance like I just have to check things one more time or I accidentally get pulled down a rabbit hole on social media which I’m much less likely to do when I’m in low stress. I absolutely will be waking up more at night either thinking I have to go to the bathroom or just with an idea or you know a disturbing dream. It’s like I’m just on alert and even more sensitive to things like the air conditioner turning on and off can wake me up when my stress level is in that medium tier. But also I’ve noticed that one of the lifestyle indicators that my stress is probably going to go up is that my schedule is more full and things like regular exercise they can get crowded out.
So I’m going to say that again because I want you to ask yourself if that same thing is true for you. You know what is the correlation for you of how dense your schedule gets and how much time you have for rest and recovery activities and if for you that means that the cues your body is giving you of stress are going up. Also when I’m in medium stress I’m craving more chocolate and more carbs. Anybody else feel that way? In my body I feel this sensation of tightness around my throat and a whirling in my chest that feels like a bubble machine is blowing inside me. It is the strangest thing. I’m also more distracted mentally. I get achy physically with tightness in the muscles in my jaw, my shoulders, and hips. Emotionally I can be more reactive, less patient. I can be more self-critical and I can have a more negative view of others and the world around me. So in my Stress Map these things that I’m listing off would be in that left column. These are the signs that I’m in medium stress levels.
Now these things obviously indicate that I’m going to have a lower capacity to devote to the time and energy that’s needed for nervous system regulation (compared to low stress) and the same thing is probably true for you. So what we want to look for is the smallest possible action – the thing that takes the least amount of energy to achieve the outcome that we’re looking for.
As Shawnee shared in Episode 10, and this is a really important point, we’re not necessarily looking to go from a level of stress into a level of peacefulness and relaxation because oftentimes really all we need to do is move down the tier. So if you can move from medium stress to low stress that is a success. You’re just really trying to move out of feeling hypervigilant or that there’s a threat or danger. You want your brain to feel calm. You want to shift into being more present to the moment. That does not mean that what you’re feeling in the moment is positive. Okay so okayness is a very good goal to have here.
I’ve already shared quite a few body-focused techniques in this series that are things that you can literally do in 60 seconds or less. So you already have tons of ideas that you’ve been introduced to. I don’t want to repeat them anymore for you. What I want to share with you is a practice that I give my clients. If you do have your pen and paper or your computer, I want you to write or type these letters WD_N? and it stands for what does and (fill in your name) need. Mine is WDCN and it stands for what does crystal need and when I’m in a medium level or high level stress state and I’m trying to decide how to approach that and which technique feels really accessible to me that I can do in just a few seconds that doesn’t take a lot of energy to just go from where I am to feeling more okayness. What does crystal need is the question I ask myself because the body has an answer.
We’re not looking for the answer to come from your thinking mind. We want your body to sort of ah yes let’s do that. So if you have your Stress Map completed and you’re reading over it, your body is going to like give you a sense of which one to do. And if you’re really in a moment where you notice stress but nothing comes to mind, you have no idea what to do to get more regulation in your system, then just notice where you feel sensations in your body. Is it in your head? Is it in your throat? Is it in your chest? Is it in your belly? Is it in your pelvis? Is it in your arms or legs? Where is it? And then just ask yourself what can I do to meet this level of energy?
So if the stress is medium, then you’re probably not trying to lay on the ground and be still. You know what comes to mind for me is matching a medium stress level with a movement that correlates with the intensity of that sensation. So self-touch but with pressure. You know like squeezing something else or a part of your body, pressing something else or a part of your body, swiping like running your palms down part of your body or clapping can create a lot of sensation. And dancing is always a good option. So after doing something like that where you’re meeting the energy level for like 15 to 60 seconds, then you can try some of the techniques from the low stress tier that I mentioned like orienting, anchoring, and gentle self-touch. I might also hum or sing along with some music or just allow some sound, something guttural, something instinctive.
If there’s other people around me, I can still choose from all the things that I just suggested. My hand right now is on my thigh and I can push into it and nobody knows I’m doing anything at all. I could push and then release. Like there could be a rhythm and that can be grounding. Know that no matter where you are, these tools are accessible to you. The stress has to move through you, so think about how you can work with it to support your system to regulate.
Another way I like to think of it is be a friend to your experience of stress. Don’t bully it to change it. Just meet it where it is by allowing it to be just as it is. That’s when it just transforms on its own and it’s so much less effort. It’s like you just shine a light on it. You become more aware of what you’re feeling in your body and then it shifts because you allowed it. The problem for us is that we cut it off, we ignore it, we tune it out, and so that sensation becomes louder and more prominent.
The difference in medium stress from what I’ve described in low stress is that we’re started in a state of higher activation. We were doing bigger movements, making bigger sounds. There’s more intensity in your body that you’re matching. Then once you allow that to move through your body, you’ve dissipated some charge. Then your brain and your body become more resilient. These natural processes are so primal. It’s just that in our busy modern lives, we’ve lost the knowledge and really the self-permission to do what’s necessary for our own well-being.
Remember that WD_N? I even have my clients write it down throughout the day or put it on a sticky note. Remember to ask yourself the question.
Go ahead and write down ideas that have resonated with you for what you can do to respond to medium stress levels in your body. Have two to three that feel attainable knowing that when you have this level of stress, you likely have less time and energy.
Okay, now we’re ready to talk about high stress levels. I think it’s fair to say that most likely you visit this tier of stress several times a week and that it’s possible that you reside here more than you’d like to. Well, if you put these techniques to practice, I assure you that will change. I can’t tell you how in awe I’ve been over the past five years of my clients that come to me initially with a feeling like they’re being stalked by a tiger 12 hours a day where stress was taking a toll on every area of their lives and then using these tools they’ve not only gone on to higher levels of success but also more satisfaction and confidence in the risk they can take how visible they can be because they know they can handle what comes their way.
Many of them were exemplary leaders throughout the pandemic and kept stress at bay despite the uncertainties because they had these tools in place and had practiced using them prior.
Now for me, high stress is pretty obvious. If I really just take a second, I can notice it right off the bat. There’s a few key things I’ve noticed over the years that will happen for me. One, which I think is funny, is that I start picking the hangnails on my thumbs. I rub my index finger over my thumb and I’ll find a hangnail and then subconsciously there I am pulling it off. It’s something that I wouldn’t even notice on my finger if I were in a medium or low stress state but at high stress I do. Also my chocolate cravings, they’re pretty noticeable where it’s like, oh I need some chocolate and I can look at the clock and go, it’s two o’clock. That’s what I do. Or in the evening after dinner craving sweets. It’s this intense, I have to have it right now kind of situation. The other thing physically that I feel is there’s this humming feeling of charge in my body. It just feels like I’m a battery or I’m a volcano about to explode and it’s in my chest and in my throat and it makes me feel like my breathing is a little restricted. I will tend to clench my jaw, just clamp down and just hold and also the muscles between my shoulder blades will start to feel like they’re knotted up. This one’s funny but it’s a clear sign for me, my left eye twitches and for me that’s a sign of I’m in the high stress tier.
The other one is that my energy plummets which is a huge indicator. I wake up in the morning as if I’d never slept at all. It’s really like having a foot on the accelerator and the brake at the same time because I’m amped up and I’m tired. We call that wired and tired. When I’m in this tier my creativity drops so projects take me longer. It’s like I’m just a little foggy and can’t think as clearly.
Emotionally there’s this increased range that I experience where literally I will cry at next to nothing. It’s like those tears are just right at the surface. A commercial, seeing something sweet, you know sad news, swiping social media and seeing something terrible happening in the world and there I am a puddle of tears. But I can also switch into this flavor of like ragey anger whenever I feel overwhelmed which happens a lot more in this tier. I can say that one thing that contributes most to me feeling high levels of stress is time stress.
There’s different kinds of stress that we experience. Financial stress, relational stress, right? All different kinds of stress. But time stress is huge for me. Having too many things to do and having too many things on my calendar where it feels like I just can’t recharge. I have to stay on. I have to push on. And it’s familiar to me because I have spent years there living that way. But now when I notice that’s happening and that I’m doing that, then I will immediately prioritize my regulation practices because I know how important it is that I move out of that. I no longer think it’s okay to stay in that hyperproductive state for long periods of time because it really does deplete me and prevents me from showing up as my most powerful actualized self.
I’m wondering when you’re in high stress, what do you feel? What are the signs physically? What do you feel emotionally? And what’s happening with your ability to think and be creative? Your cognition. Now what you’re feeling at high levels of stress could be wildly different for you than they were for me. And that’s typical. That’s perfectly fine. So make sure that you have this as clearly mapped out as you can in your chart. And then ask yourself, what are the practices you think would help you meet this intensity of energy in your body? Remember, you want to meet the intensity level of this sensation where it is and then let it move through you before you try to start doing any calming activities.
Where I live in Grand Rapids, Michigan, there’s a business called Break Room Therapy, where you go into this place with protective gear on and your weapon of choice, like a sledgehammer, a baseball bat, and you just smash whatever you want. You can choose your music and you know, it’s a very safe environment. It’s designed to do this. You can have a table of glass dishes. You can take in your own object to try to take your energy out on. They have old appliances like a big old TV set. And I think it’s brilliant.
Although I haven’t talked to the owner, my guess is that the customers more often identify as women. I think she has more females coming through the door to take part in break room therapy. And I really do want to go try it out. But this would be a great tier to have that activity put in because you can imagine that would really help you meet that level of intense energy that you’re feeling in your body.
Aside from that, shaking and dancing are my go to activities for this tier. Loud music where I can really feel it in my body is so helpful. It’s almost like I need something to be louder than the energy that I feel in my body to help me calm down. And then, you know, I like higher intensity exercise. That’s usually for short periods of time, but moving my legs as fast as I can on the elliptical. Or I’ll do movements that use large muscles in my legs like squat jumps. So to do that, you’re just standing and then you lower your body slowly. And then to come out of it, you press up or you, you know, you stand up powerfully or you jump out of it. And you can even raise your arms overhead to get your heart rate going a little faster and to meet more of that energy level.
Then as energy starts to drop, then I use pressure and resistance. And I want more sensation here than I did in the medium tier. I’ll do something like stand in a lunge and put my hands on the wall and push as if I’m trying to knock the wall over. I have elastic bands that go around a doorknob and I’ll pull with my arms or face away from the door and use them in my hands to push away. And these types of movements can help dissipate those stress chemicals.
From here, I can use vocalizing or humming and just letting whatever sound wants to come out, come out. Usually, I go with easy things like different rhythms of just, you know, or, you know, just lots of just sighing and just letting out all the like negative energy through sound or just ha, you know, you can really yell like ha, you know, it just, it just moves so much energy through your body.
If that sounds totally bananas to you, really, you just have to try it because these are primal things. They’re wired into our body. There’s nothing unusual about them. I promise. No matter what you choose, just know that it doesn’t have to take more than just a few minutes, like a maximum of 10 minutes of doing any of these things I’ve listed will drastically change the charge you feel in your body. And you’ll notice your stress levels moving from this high level, probably back into the medium or low tier. And that’s where you can pull from what you’ve written in those places on your Stress Map.
That’s where personally, I’ll ask the question again, what does crystal need? I’ll notice where I feel sensation in my body, use my hand touch that place in my body, ask what it needs. At that point, it might just be a few breaths, I might go outside and just get some fresh air. It might be a shower or to call a friend for a moment of connection.
I have a friend where we have this mutual agreement that we can leave each other voice texts. And we share when we’re having a hard time over feeling high levels of stress. And it’s great because it normalizes how much we as humans as women feel high stress. And then just knowing that someone received it, somebody knows what I’m going through is so helpful. And then later on, somebody is going to check in on me, I know she’s going to reach out and say, Okay, how’s that going? She’s not trying to give me advice. She’s not trying to fix the problem. It’s just this understanding that we have a place where we can put this feeling of isolation of our experience out there with someone else who can witness it. And it really does help. It’s like it discharges some of that feeling without having to do anything else.
What I want you to ask yourself of what of the things that I’ve listed so far, do you want to put down in this tier of your stress map? And what feels attainable for you? Remember that when you’re in high stress, your thinking mind is offline. And your amygdala, the part of the brain that’s heightened to perceive threat and danger is running the show. It’s harder to access this list of creative ways that you might achieve more regulation. That’s why as stress goes up, having it all written down and already thought about is so helpful. To put all of this together, first, you have to recognize the signs of stress in your body as it evolves throughout the day or week. And then you have to give yourself permission and that’s a big one. Give yourself permission to stop what you’re doing and respond to your body’s messages. Take one to 10 minutes and respond to it so you can close the stress cycle.
And let’s acknowledge that most likely you’ve never seen any of this modeled and that this may be the first time you’re hearing about this concept or any of these ideas discussed. Knowing these tools is how stress becomes your ally and helps you cultivate strength. Your confidence grows as you realize you can respond to any situation without the accumulated stress harming you. You start to believe that you can take more risks, be more visible, stand up for yourself, advocate for your values, promote your talents, and claim your seat at the table as a woman. It’s my humble opinion that as we are more professional women with the knowledge in this series, women will not only show up more effectively at work, but they’ll have stronger boundaries about how they use their time because they can more accurately feel what elevates stress in their bodies and they no longer violate their body’s wisdom. As women are more stress resilient, maybe we’ll see a drop in the rates of autoimmune diseases, cancer, and heart disease that predominantly impact women.
Before we sign off, take a moment and ask yourself, what have you gained from today’s show? What is the takeaway message that you want to absorb and integrate into your life? And what are the specific actions that you need to make that idea your reality?
I also want to make sure you know that while I love producing this show so much, that I’m a consultant and coach and that I have a business helping leaders gain the skills to navigate the invisible challenges they face and show up as their best. My business is supported by working one-on-one with individuals and consulting to organizations about things like stress management and how to overcome patterns that keep people stuck, how to create more fulfilling career paths, and develop sustainable work cultures. If you want to learn more about working with me in that capacity, email me and let’s chat. Crystal(at)crystalfrazee.com.
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I have a real treat for you next week. It’s going to be a total change of tone. It’s going to be fun and lighthearted. Nothing that makes your brain have to work. I’m going to share how using various products can help you build stress resilience. I’m going to be sharing my go-to herbals, adaptogens, and non-alcoholic beverages that I found that help you have the lifestyle you want without compromising on your nervous system regulation. You can use these products to supplement your stress resilience map and I’m going to show you how to do that.
Thanks so much for listening today. I really hope you found value and I can’t wait for next week.