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Balancing Good & Bad Stress

Updated: Nov 19, 2020

I think we can all agree that our days are filled with stress, endless to-do lists and not enough hours in the day to complete it all! Our minds are constantly going and rarely do we take a second to stop. This is where intentionally practicing mindfulness comes in! Stopping for a couple minutes or even just 30 seconds to ground ourselves into the present moment helps us refocus our thoughts, clear our mind of the clutter, and calm our emotions.

Good Stress -vs- Bad Stress

Not all stress is bad!! A healthy amount of stress is actually really good for us. It gives us drive, excites us and keeps us motivated! Stress only becomes bad, when we are in that state constantly without a break. This is when we start to feel overwhelmed, burnt out and anxious.

A basic look at the science…

Without digging too deep and boring you- I want to briefly explain the Autonomic Nervous System there are two divisions the Sympathetic and Parasympathetic. These two, work side-by-side to create a state of balance in the body.

Sympathetic is our fight or flight response but we can call it “stress” for now. Our heart rates are higher, muscles are tense, stress hormones are pumping. The opposite is our Parasympathetic Nervous System which controls our rest and digest response- decreased heart rates, relaxed muscles, and happy hormones.

As mentioned before, our lives tend to be busy!! In fact, when asked "how are you?" too often our answer is "BUSY!" or my go too is "exhausted." We are putting our bodies into a state of chronic stress which could eventually lead to more severe health conditions in the future.

Good News! There are lots of solutions! A great way is through grounding techniques! By grounding we can switch our mind and body into a state of rest to create a healthy balance with our stress!

What are Grounding Techiniques?

Talkspace Therapist Joanna Filidor, explains Grounding as “techniques or tools used to self-regulate in moments of stress and anxiety. They serve as gentle reminders to stay focused and anchored in the present moment, which is what helps reduce the feelings of anxiety and overwhelm.”

3 Quick grounding exercise

Grounding can be done anywhere at any time. These are three exercises that can be completed individually or combined into one long exercise.

  • Breathe

Start by closing your eyes and placing one hand on your heart and the other on your stomach. Do not alter your breathing at first, just notice where you are. Notice your hands rise and fall with each breath. Without changing the duration of your breath quicken your inhale and extend your exhale. Mentally counting- 3 seconds in and 6 out.

  • Refocus Thoughts

Make a conscious effort to fill your mind with restorative thoughts. When I find my thoughts drifting negatively, I like to choose one word I can always bring my attention back to that re-energizes me positively.

Galatians 5:22 is an excellent source! The fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and gentleness are my go to words to meditate on refocus my energy.

  • Senses

Focus on a particular sensation like smelling an essential oil or engage all of your senses through a “5, 4, 3, 2, 1 exercise” – 5 objects you see, 4 sounds you hear, 3 textures you feel, 2 smells and 1 taste.

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