April's Take 5 Challenge

April’s Wellness Challenge: TAKE-5

During the month of April, we’re asking you to carve out 5 minutes from your day to develop and practice some mindful habits with the hopes of increasing your tolerance to stress.  In my daily conversations with clients, stress seems to be the biggest complaint and while we might not be able to reduce our stress load, there certainly are strategies to help you cope with stress better.  Before we get to those strategies, let’s find out what your current baseline is.

How tolerant are you to stress?  Take this quiz to find out:

  1. My family seems to be:

    1. Stress resistant

    2. Stress-prone

  2. Historically, I have:

    1. Practice at handling stress (sports, competitions, military, etc)

    2. Little to no exposure to stress

  3. My current stress load is:

    1. Moderate

    2. Very high / Very low

  4. My current environment includes high levels of time:

    1. Spent outdoors, in nature AND/OR with loved ones

    2. Spent in clinical/industrial spaces AND/OR without loved ones

  5. My support network is:

    1. Strong

    2. Weak

  6. When coping with stress:

    1. I easily find ways to calm myself when emotional

    2. I easily am overwhelmed by my emotions

  7. My general attitude is:

    1. Go with the flow, optimistic, proactive, confident, agile, willing to rise to a challenge

    2. Resistant to change, pessimistic, reactionary, not confident, paralyzed, avoid problems and challenges

Add up the number of 1’s and 2’s that you answered,  If you have more 1’s than 2’s, you have a higher tolerance stress.  If you have more 2’s than 1’s, you have a lower tolerance to stress.  There are a lot of variables that come into play when we discuss your ability to handle the stressors that affect your everyday life, some you have very little to no control over like genetics, history, and current stress loads.  Others, you do have more control over, like environment, support network, coping ability, and attitude. The goal of April’s Take five challenge is to work on the things we can change to help develop a higher tolerance to stress.

What is your current level of stress (Which answers apply best to your current state)?

Stress is too low

Stress is just right

Stress is too high

Lethargic

Bored

Unfocused

Directionless

Purposeless

Energized

Engaged/Interested

Actively moving towards goals

Learning and growing

 

Anxious or obsessive

Depressed

Panicked and floundering

Stuck or numb

Diet / Sleep is disrupted

 

Now that you know your stress tolerance and current level of stress, it’s important to know that no matter what your state, doing activities proven to increase your parasympathetic response have amazingly positive effects on the body including:

  • Boosting the immune system

  • Improving sleep, mood, emotional regulation, and circadian rhythm

  • Lowering blood pressure, heart rate, stress hormones, and inflammation

  • Supporting the the development of new brain cells, neural connections, and gray matter.

  • Sharpening your focus, mental clarity, attention, memory, and recall.

Even if you’re not stressed, learning coping strategies now will have a preventative effect on any future stressors that come your way!  There are many coping strategies, but they all involve taking a break from the daily grind and carving out time for yourself! Here are a few:

  • Take a walk outside

  • Go outside and get moderate sun exposure (15 minutes)

  • Enjoy nature

  • Listen to low key music

  • Get a massage

  • Do deep breathing

  • Spend time laughing

  • Snuggle with a loved one or pet

  • Do some easy swimming

  • Practice yoga or do slow stretching

  • Spend time in in a hot tub or sauna

  • Play (non-competitive)

  • Meditate

  • Mind/body scan

All of us, on some level, are captive to our daily grind so the easiest option that we can provide to do this is the 5-minute mind/body scan.  You can do this anywhere, at anytime and reap the benefits (above) that come from slowing down and calming your body.

Here’s your April Wellness challenge:  For the next 21 days, carve 5 minutes out of your day to do a Mind/Body Scan. 1-3 times per week, choose one of the other coping strategies above:

How to do a 5- minute mind body scan:

  1. Find a quiet place with no distractions.

  2. Sit or lie down.

  3. Set a timer, for 5 minutes.

  4. Start at the top of your head, and slowly scan down to your toes.

  5. Notice all physical sensations: hot / cold, itchy, tense, etc. Observe, don’t judge.

  6. Record the answers to the questions below in a journal.

  • Question 1: What are you feeling, physically?

  • Question 2: What are you feeling, emotionally?

  • Question 3: What are you thinking?

  • Question 4: Based on this scan, what have you learned about yourself today?

At the end of this challenge, after doing 20 days in a row, we’ll revisit the quizzes and see how things have changed!

 

Feel free to use this spreadsheet to track your 5-minute mind body scan during this challenge.  Just click the link to open up the document, then go to file and make a copy for your own private use!




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