Understanding perceived threats and stress response.

During your morning walk, a large dog barks at you. How do you respond?

Most likely you perceive that dog as some type of threat, so your hypothalamus, a tiny region at the base of your brain, sets off an alarm system in your body. Through a combination of nerve and hormonal signals, this system prompts your adrenal glands, located atop your kidneys, to release a surge of hormones, including adrenaline and cortisol.

Adrenaline increases your heart rate, elevates your blood pressure and boosts energy supplies. Cortisol, the primary stress hormone, increases sugars (glucose) in the bloodstream, enhances your brain’s use of glucose and increases the availability of substances that repair tissues.

Cortisol also curbs functions that would be nonessential or detrimental in a fight-or-flight situation. It alters immune system responses and suppresses the digestive system, the reproductive system and growth processes. This complex natural alarm system also communicates with regions of your brain that control mood, motivation and fear.

Understanding the Stress Response – if your mind and body are constantly on edge because of excessive stress in your life, you may face serious health problems. That’s because your body’s “fight-or-flight reaction” – its natural alarm system – is constantly on.

By Stepanie Wachman, Executive Coach

Your body is hard-wired to react to stress in ways meant to protect you against threats from predators and other aggressors. Such threats are rare today, but that doesn’t mean that life is free of stress.
I know how much stress most you face, having been in your shoes and working with the multiple demands each day that comes from your job, such as shouldering a huge workload,  taking care of your family, or just looking at the long list of email that you have to respond to daily. Your body treats these so-called minor hassles as threats. As a result you may feel as if you’re constantly under assault. But you can fight back. You don’t have to let stress control your life.

Understanding the natural stress response-If your mind and body are constantly on edge because of excessive stress in your life, you may face serious health problems. That’s because your body’s “fight-or-flight reaction” — its natural alarm system  is constantly on.
When you encounter perceived threats — a large dog barks at you during your morning walk, for instance — your hypothalamus, a tiny region at the base of your brain, sets off an alarm system in your body. Through a combination of nerve and hormonal signals, this system prompts your adrenal glands, located atop your kidneys, to release a surge of hormones, including adrenaline and cortisol.

Adrenaline increases your heart rate, elevates your blood pressure and boosts energy supplies. Cortisol, the primary stress hormone, increases sugars (glucose) in the bloodstream, enhances your brain’s use of glucose and increases the availability of substances that repair tissues.

Cortisol also curbs functions that would be nonessential or detrimental in a fight-or-flight situation. It alters immune system responses and suppresses the digestive system, the reproductive system and growth processes. This complex natural alarm system also communicates with regions of your brain that control mood, motivation and fear. When the natural stress response goes haywire- The body’s stress-response system is usually self-regulating. It decreases hormone levels and enables your body to return to normal once a perceived threat has passed. As adrenaline and cortisol levels drop, your heart rate and blood pressure return to baseline levels, and other systems resume their regular activities.

But when the stressors of your life are present, leaving you feeling stressed, tense, nervous or on edge, that fight-or-flight reaction stays turned on. The less control you have over potentially stress-inducing events and the more uncertainty they create, the more likely you are to feel stressed. Even the typical day-to-day demands of living can contribute to your body’s stress response.

The long-term activation of the stress-response system — and the subsequent overexposure to cortisol and other stress hormones — can disrupt almost all your body’s processes. This puts you at increased risk of numerous health problems:

•    Heart disease
•    Sleep problems
•    Digestive problems
•    Depression
•    Obesity
•    Memory impairment

That’s why it’s so important to learn healthy ways to cope with the stressors in your life.
Stephanie Wachman, Executive Coach, www.stephaniewachman.com, 720-232-3693
© Life In Balance LLC

by Stephanie Wachman on 06/09/11

The other day I had a dr. appointment and parked my car in a garage. When I got back, my car would not start. I began to panic. I had a lot of work to do and deadlines that needed to be met. I actually planned my work schedule for that day to the minute. It took an hour but finally they came to jump start my car. When that didn’t work, I had to wait another 90 minutes to get a tow truck. All the while, I kept hearing the ticking of the clock because I knew that none of my work was getting done.

As I sat outside the parking garage, I took a deep breath and thought about how there really is no such thing as a work/life balance. In day to day living there are challenges that can offset the balance no matter how well you plan. In order to achieve an attempt at balance we have to create an action plan that focuses on the controllable but accepts the uncontrollable. Sitting under a big tree I thought of three ways to achieve controlled imbalance.

First, is what I refer to as low hanging fruit; these are the easy to control time management tools. We all carry cell phones, iPads, laptops and smart phones. For most people they are always with them, literally in hand. I now refer to them as “binkies” my son used to have a binky that I could never pry from him and the way that we manage our cell phones today are not unlike a child’s binky. It’s time to take our personal time back by turning off our phones every day for 1-2 hours. Here are some suggestions: during dinner time, turn off your phone and put it in a drawer.  When in the car, turn it off and stick it in your glove box. This will not only make you a safer driver but will free up your mind for creative thinking.

Secondly, establish at least five goals. You want to think long term and ask yourself where I see myself in three years, one year and one month. Plan your goals around what is most important to you in your life, such as: family, health, friends, career and finances.

Thirdly, create a weekly and monthly action plan to use as a tool to achieve your goals. Refer to this plan often to keep you on track.

It’s very easy to get caught up with all the uncontrollable things that can happy at any time, but when we take daily ownership of our time, have a clear long and short term vision for ourselves and identify the actions it takes to achieve our goals, then we have control. The next times you find yourself standing in front on a stalled car with a To-Do list as long as an eighteen-wheeler; smile because at least now you understand that you have controlled imbalance.

by Stephanie Wachman on 09/13/11

Coaches are trained to listen for self-sabotage. Saboteurs are nasty little worms that we allow to get in our head and tell us what we can’t do or why we shouldn’t do something.
If we listen to the voice of our saboteur, we can never move forward and have new experiences and positive outcomes. Don’t let your saboteur be your business manager.

Listed below are a few ways we sabotage ourselves:

  1. Telling yourself you are not good enough.
  2. Not even trying to do something new.
  3. Calling yourself a failure.
  4. Giving up to soon.
  5. Blaming others for your problems.
  6. Acting like a child and pitying yourself.
  7. Always being in denial.
  8. Procrastinating on important issues.
  9. Judging others.
  10. Comparing you to other people.

To overcome the power of self-sabotage, think positive thoughts, believe in your own possibilities. Ask yourself is this my natural self-talking or the voice of my saboteur?

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Tel: 720-232-3693 Email: stephanie@coachinglib.com

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