I had a super stressful experience last week. Basically someone trespassed on my property and threatened me & my home. I was amazed at the energy generated within me in response to this primal sort of threat to territory and safety. Interacting with this person generated a huge amount of anger but also opportunity for me to maintain situational awareness and choose my reactions rather than letting them control me.
A lot of stress & trauma is experienced after the event, not during it, so how we handle the ‘after’ can be critical. Following this incident I knew I had an opportunity use my skills for stress to move through the aftermath as gracefully as possible.
When our human stress response kicks off our bloodstream is flooded w/ glucose so we have raw energy for self-protection to either fight or run away. The body gets flooded with adrenaline so it can take action. If this energy isn’t used in the moment, it needs somewhere to go so it doesn’t get stuck in the body.
I knew trying to calm away all this energy would backfire in things like being awake all night, feeling restless or hypervigilant. So instead of trying to fight the stress energy, I hopped on the assault bike for 15s all-out sprints with 45s rest in between getting my breath pace up to Gear 5 / max capacity for each sprint.
I then let my heart rate & breath pace come down naturally while I walked & then laid on the floor allowing my body to reach a calm state in its own time. I used breath awareness to track my recovery as I waited until my body transitioned back to a calm state of slow nasal-only breathing. I knew I had come down to a calm baseline when I could breathe nasally 5s in and 5s out for a couple minutes without tension.
Once I had returned to a rested state I could go about my day and explore further what feelings came up. This was not the end of my work on rebounding from major stress but it helped – I have validated my physiology / human stress response and the energy it provided me so I could protect myself.
More soon on rebounding from stress & how fitness helps.