#20: Completing the Stress Cycle

Despite challenges, stress and fear – we keep going. Humans are amazingly resilient to stress…unless we get stuck in a stress cycle that never ends, spiraling downward. In this episode, I’ll share a free resource for you to help you complete the stress cycle through one of the most powerful tools we have: movement. Grab it at ShesGotPower.com/move

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It started about 1 year ago…

I packed a backpack, took an Uber to JFK airport and got on a flight to Thailand. 

Actually it was a flight to Hong Kong connecting to Koh Samui — an island off the coast of Thailand.

Nothing has been the same since.

Life can be really scary.

Getting divorced has been scary. Parenting solo has been…a trip. Handling life on my own is sometimes great and sometimes super stressful. 

Now we have this coronavirus outbreak.

Downright frightening.

(And, quite an endcap to this year of change, uncertainty, stress and fear.)

I know you’ve had your own set of challenges and stressors over the last year. None of us were prepared to be working from home, homeschooling and worried about toilet paper right now.

But despite fear, we all keep going.

And we can. Humans are amazingly resilient to stress.

Unless…and this is a big UNLESS…

Unless we get stuck in a stress cycle that never ends and just spirals downward.

So let’s talk about completing the stress cycle.

I’ve also created a resource for you at ShesGotPower.com/move. Hint hint. Moving has everything to do with completing the stress cycle.

Has this ever happened to you?

Have you ever walked out of a yoga class or done some Zumba and you come back in a totally different mind space?

Maybe you started out SUPER stressed about something…and afterward, you’re like, oh, it’s no big deal.

How is that possible? And why does this happen?

The stress cycle is a biological process. 

It’s how our bodies manage and move through stress.

Emily Nagowski does a lot of great teaching about this, by the way. There’s also a book called The Body Keeps the Score by Dr. Bessel van der Kolk. I highly recommend checking it out. It’s about how trauma lives in the body long after the experience is over, and suggests that movement is an important way to release stored stress and trauma.

We’ve all heard about PTSD and veterans doing yoga and things like that, to resolve big time trauma. But what about more common, everyday stress? 

What about the trauma — yes, trauma — of having this coronavirus pandemic sweeping through the world and upending our society? How do we move through THAT? 

Especially with no end in sight.

Our stress response system is rather…antiquated. 

Our bodies perceive and react to stress in the same way they did thousands of years ago. 

Back then, stress was a tiger chasing us. There was a stressful event with a beginning, a middle and an end:

First, the tiger appears. Then it attacks! Then, we run for dear life.

And then, the danger is over. The stressor is gone. We’re safe again.

Stress came in these spikes, and our bodies adapted to manage those spikes.

Today, stress is different.. It’s our jobs, our commutes, money, and who knows what’s going to happen next with the coronavirus outbreak. These stressors come into our lives…and it’s not a spike. It’s not an individual event. 

These things are ongoing. For days…weeks…years…

That’s why it’s easy to get stuck in the stress cycle. It doesn’t complete. Instead, stress hangs out in our system. Our bodies release hormones meant to help us in the short term to escape danger – but over time, they cause our bodies to break down.

We know this. We know stress is bad for us. 

And we can’t exactly keep it from happening.

But we CAN help our very old, outdated stress response system perceive an END to the cycle. 

We need to show our systems that we are safe.

And right now…if you’re reading this…you are very likely safe and ok in this moment. You are breathing. You are here. You have internet access of some kind, you have a device connecting you to the world. Maybe the sun is even shining. I know it was earlier when I was out on my deck preparing this episode. The birds were chirping and despite my fears of what’s happening in the world…right now I am ok.

Logically, it makes sense.

But the body doesn’t always get the message. 

That’s why you feel anxiety. You have trouble sleeping. You’re overeating. You’re snapping at your loved ones. You’re in a fight, flight or freeze state.

So, how do we complete the stress cycle and move through it?


Movement is how the body gets rid of stress. 

Think about the act of running away from the tiger. It’s the running — that movement — that signifies to the body that you’ve taken care of the problem. You’re safe now. 

Sometimes you’ll see animals literally shake after a stressful event. They sort of tremble and shake their limbs and that’s their way of “shaking it off.”

It’s not about exercise, per se. It’s about giving yourself what you need.

When you think about using movement as a way to complete the stress cycle…it’s not about burning calories. Or building muscle or getting ripped. It’s just part of being human.

It’s a part that’s been slowly stripped away over the course of my lifetime. As a kid, I remember always being outside. Climbing trees, riding bikes. But as TV got better…things changed. Getting cable was a big deal! 

And now, jeez, how many hours do we spend on our phones? My screen time was down last week so I only spent, what? FIVE HOURS per day on average?

It’s even more difficult right now, while many of us are stuck inside and thrown off our routines. We can’t make our usual gym class. Pilates. Etc.

So here is a resource for you:

Go to ShesGotPower.com/move where I’ve created a free resource to help you uncover possibilities for how to complete the stress cycle – doing things that you can actually do right now and enjoy. 

We’ll get creative about it. We’ll set aside the “I can’t” and get to the “I can.”

Remember, it’s not about burning calories or getting ripped. I’m not a personal trainer. This is just about being human and honoring what you need to take care of yourself during a stressful time.

I want to help you find ways to connect with yourself, move through this stress effectively, and keep going.

Don’t get stuck.


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