AwakeningwithAmyRobeson

Episode 108: How to Cope with Stress to Prevent Numbing Out

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Coping with stress can cause numbing out behaviors that can affect our physical and mental health. To cope with stress, it is necessary to avoid destructive behaviors, such as drugs or alcohol, and instead use free coping mechanisms, such as deep breathing, grounding, and movement. It is crucial to be honest when numbing out and choose healthy, mindful behaviors to cope with stress.

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HOW TO COPE WITH STRESS: HEALTHY STRATEGIES TO PREVENT NUMBING OUT 

We all encounter stress, and it is a natural part of life. Coping with stress can be challenging, and many people resort to various coping mechanisms to deal with their stress. Unfortunately, some of these coping mechanisms can be destructive, leading to addiction and other health problems.

Numbing out is a behavior that people use to avoid or suppress emotions. It can take many forms, such as

  • scrolling through social media
  • watching TV
  • using drugs or alcohol
  • overworking
  • shopping
  • gambling
  • overeating
  • and so much more

Essentially, it is a behavior that distracts a person from the stress or discomfort they are experiencing. While these behaviors may provide temporary relief, they do not address the underlying issues that are causing the stress.

People numb out for various reasons. It could be due to past trauma, anxiety, or depression. It could also result from our fast-paced world, where people are constantly bombarded with information and have little time to process it. Whatever the reason, numbing out can have negative consequences such as addiction, relationship problems, and decreased mental health. Finding healthy ways to cope with stress is essential to maintain good physical and mental health.

COPING WITH STRESS USING GRATITUDE

One way to cope with stress is by practicing gratitude. When we focus on the things we're grateful for, it can help shift our mindset and reduce stress levels. Additionally, when we forgive ourselves for engaging in unhealthy coping mechanisms, choosing behaviors that support our well-being becomes easier.
It's also crucial to acknowledge and address our emotions when we're feeling stressed. Emotions are a part of the human experience, and it's important to give ourselves permission to feel them. Instead of running away from our emotions, we should address them and choose healthy coping mechanisms that allow us to deal with them in a healthy, mindful way.

HEALTHY COPING MECHANISMS FOR STRESS

EXERCISE REGULARLY: Exercise is a great way to release endorphins, which are the body's natural mood boosters. Whether you enjoy running, dancing, or practicing yoga, find a physical activity that brings you joy and incorporate it into your daily routine.

SPEND TIME IN NATURE: Spending time in nature can calm the mind and body. Whether you take a walk in the park or go for a hike in the mountains, spending time in nature can help you feel more grounded and connected to the world around you.

PRACTICE SELF-COMPASSION: It's essential to treat yourself with kindness and compassion, especially when you're going through a difficult time. Practice self-compassion by speaking to yourself in a kind and gentle tone and reminding yourself that you're doing your best with available resources.

SET BOUNDARIES: Sometimes, stress and overwhelm can come from taking on too much responsibility. If you're feeling stressed because you're overcommitted, try setting boundaries and saying no to things that don't align with your values and priorities.

Coping with stress and stopping numbing out is essential for our physical and mental well-being. By practicing gratitude, forgiving ourselves, addressing our emotions, and developing healthy coping mechanisms, we can learn to deal with stress in a healthy, mindful way. Remember that self-care is not selfish, and taking care of ourselves will help us become more resilient and better able to handle life's challenges. So be kind to yourself, try different strategies, and remember that you've got this!

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Full transcription of the episode:

We live in a fast-paced world that can be extremely stressful. We are constantly bombarded by everyday life. Adulting can be hard. It can be challenging. Sometimes I wish someone had told me how hard adulting can sometimes be. However, we're in it. We're adults. We got to figure it out.

One of the things that I think is really important for us on our spiritual path of awakening is understanding our coping devices when it comes to stress to prevent acts of numbing out. Our parasympathetic nervous system and our sympathetic nervous system play a big role in our ability to stay healthy, cope with stress, release stress, and also may play a factor in numbing out behaviors.

So let's first talk about what the parasympathetic and the sympathetic nervous system is. The parasympathetic nervous system is a state of relaxation for the nervous system, meaning the nervous system knows that it can relax, there's no longer danger, and that it doesn't have to be on alert.

The sympathetic nervous system means that it's in an activated state. It's in a heightened state of awareness. And if it's in a heightened state of awareness, your body is either in fight or flight or freeze. I also like to add freeze because if you're in flight or flight, you might be in a frozen state where you feel like you can't even take action, and that can be really, really hard.

When you're in that activated, heightened state, it's really hard to cope with stress. It's also a way to tell your brain that I need something to cope with stress, and so you fall into destructive behaviors that might not even seem destructive when you're doing them.

It's really important to have an understanding that we have unconscious and conscious coping behaviors. An unconscious behavior might be scrolling through your social media feed. All of a sudden, you're super stressed out; you want to numb out.

So all of a sudden, you start scrolling on social media, you get a dopamine hit, and an hour passes by, and you don't even realize you were on the loop of reels that you've been on for an hour. That is a way of numbing out.

Another way of numbing out that most people will go, Oh yeah, that's really bad. Don't do that is alcohol and drugs. A lot of people might think, Well, I'm not drinking alcohol every single day, or I'm not drinking an excessive amount of alcohol every single day. So technically, that's not numbing out.

Well, if you reach for a glass of wine or drink to cut the edge, that is considered numbing out. Please note I am not here to shame anyone because these are all very normal society behaviors that we are taught and that have been normalized over time.

However, what we want to get to is understanding why do you need to cut the edge. What are you cutting the edge from? And that way, you're not using something as a coping device to numb out. And again, it could be a very unconscious reaction where you're not even telling yourself, I need to numb out today, versus, I need to cut the edge.

It feels like two totally different things. But when you look at the behavior, you are numbing yourself from the emotion or the stresses that are occurring in your life, and that particular coping device assists you in that.

Another way of numbing out could be cannabis or could be other recreational drugs or street drugs, or pharmaceuticals that allow you to escape your world or to numb or to not think about or feel those stresses. An often overlooked coping device is food. We need food. We need food to keep us healthy. We need food to not get hangry.

We need food to nourish our bodies, minds, and souls. Food is a very interesting coping device because it works with the parasympathetic nervous system. When you eat, the parasympathetic nervous system tells the body you're safe. Let's start absorbing nutrients. Your heart rate relaxes, and your body relaxes.

And so, of course, if you're super stressed out, you might start craving something sweet or something Savory or some junk food. And maybe you have a healthy relationship with food, or maybe you don't. But a lot of people will lean into food as a coping device in order to feel better.

I don't know if you guys can hear it, but there's a really pretty bird chirping in the background going, Yeah, let's heal ourselves. Let's feel better. The beautiful thing about this bird showing up right now is she is telling us going outside in nature is a great way to support ourselves when we are stressed out when we need something to cope with stress.

Nature is one of the best medicines. Even listening to nature sounds is an amazing way to cope with stress. We have all these different tools at our fingertips that can support us. A lot of the things that I'm going to suggest today are absolutely free. These are things that you can do to cope with stress to prevent numbing out.

Before I get into those, I wanted to share a couple more ways that people numb out that are unconscious and conscious. Another coping device is TV. Watching things on TV or watching different apps or YouTube or things like that where we get sucked into watching something, consuming something to cut the edge, to veg out, to numb out.

Please know that any of these things that I'm sharing with you in moderation, except for maybe some extremely hard street drugs, are okay to consume every once in a while. Obviously, we need to consume food on a daily basis, but we want to make sure when we're consuming food, it's for nutrients, it's for supporting our bodies.

It's also for creating and being in community. I think that breaking bread and being with family and being with friends is such a really beautiful way to support our mental health. Because being in community, we're not meant to be alone.

And being in community allows us to know that we are always supported and that we are in a community that loves us and supports us, and we want to give back, and they want to give back to us. And it's a really healthy, helpful thing to do. So how do you stop numbing out?

Well, first off, you got to recognize when you are in a state of stress. So if you're noticing, I'm feeling on edge, I'm cranky, I'm hangry, I'm having a moment, that's the time to stop and pause and breathe. The best thing that you can do for your nervous system as a coping device is to lean into the breath.

Stop and pause and take deep, conscious breath. It is absolutely free. And if you own your breath, you own your peace. It's impossible for someone to steal your peace if you are in a state of relaxation. Now, can they instantly trigger you? Sure, absolutely.

But can you come back to the breath to come into a state of relaxation so that you can calmly have a conversation? Can you come back to the breath when you are triggered or super stressed out when you have to have a challenging conversation, or you are just having a bad day, what I call character-building days?

The breath is going to be your best resource at your fingertips to prevent yourself from numbing out, to prevent you from leaning into destructive coping devices. One of my favorite things to do if I am stressed, I will start breathing, taking nice deep breaths, reminding myself I'm safe. And then I love to drink some water.

And the water that I'm drinking is infused with love, appreciation, and gratitude. When you infuse your water with affirmations, and love notes, that water takes on that frequency. And then because we're mainly water and you drink that water, you're bringing that frequency into your body, into your being. And so another way to cope is to drink some water.

Another way to stop numbing out and to cope with stress is to move your body. When we have so much angst and so much energy that's pent up, and we're in a state of fight, flight, or freeze, we got to get the energy moving. You can go for a walk; you can shake out your body, you can dance your body, you can even scream if that feels good.

You can make any primal sound that feels good to you. to you to get the energy moving out. You can do yoga; you can do pilates, you can do any movement exercise that allows you to bring the energy up and out of the body or down through the feet by grounding.

And that's the next way of coping is grounding, rooting into the Earth, feeling your body, your feet, your sit bones, rooting into the Earth. Because when we're in a heightened state and that sympathetic nervous system is activated, what's wanting to happen is a sense of safety and security.

So if you take the breath and you root in and you imagine your grounding cord rooting into the Earth with each and every breath you take, that's going to create an anchor for you. You can think about your roots like a tree. In order to grow and rise, the tree has to reach up towards the sky, but it also has to root down and wind.

And then the more you root, the more you ground with the breath, the more the parasympathetic nervous system is going to activate in a way that supports the relaxation state. And I know I'm saying that slightly funny because we're activating the parasympathetic nervous system, so the active state in the sympathetic nervous system relaxes.

The more you way that I always like to think about the parasympathetic nervous system is it's partnering with us; it's pairing with us. And what it's partnering with us is a sense of safety and security.

It's partnering to be our friend. It's partnering to bring a sense of well-being and a sense of relaxation into the entire nervous system, which supports us in our journey, which is really important. Other ways for preventing or exercises to do instead of numbing out is to journal, meditate, talk to a friend, a family member, a coworker, a therapist, a healer that supports you in feeling in a state of being seen and heard and loved on.

Another way to cope is to get yourself in water. Water is one of the most healing ways to bring the body into a state of relaxation. And I don't mean bubble baths. Yes, you can take a bubble bath if that feels good. But most people, if they're in an agitated state, just the thought of sitting with themselves for 15, 20 minutes doesn't feel really good.

What you can do is splash water on your face or take a cold shower or just take a shower in general, soak your feet in some water, or get your hands in water and wash your hands. And this will help bring you into a more relaxed state.

Another way to bring yourself into the present moment that will allow you to not be spinning out of control if you had a bad day or you're having a bad week, or you're having a bad month, or you're having a bad chapter in your life is to remind yourself the date and time and to list things that you are grateful for in that particular moment.

And that might be really, really hard for you to do. But find any little thing that you can be grateful for to bring the parasympathetic nervous system into a state of relaxation because you appreciate things in your life. And that could be I'm grateful that I have air in my lungs and I get to breathe. I'm grateful that I'm able to root my feet into the Earth and Mother Earth supports me. I'm grateful for the beautiful birds that are singing outside.

I'm grateful for that person that made me laugh while I was standing in the grocery line. I'm grateful to the person that let me in when there was a huge traffic jam and I needed to turn, but I couldn't cross the intersection without that person's assistance. You can find any little thing to be grateful for, and they don't have to be grandiose things.

And if you find one simple thing, your nervous system will start to relax as you allow that gratitude, that frequency, to expand within your field. The main thing is we are going to have moments in life where we want to numb out unconsciously or consciously.

The more that we lean into spiritual practices and acts of kindness to ourselves, the easier it is for our parasympathetic nervous system to be in a state of relaxation. These spiritual practices do not have to be elaborate. They can be easy, quick practices like taking 10 conscious breaths or setting a Timer on your phone to breathe for 60 seconds to clear your energy as you're breathing.

To sit in a circle full of crystals all around you to support a state of relaxation. There are so many ways to stop numbing out and get into your heart and live your life from a place of discernment and safety and love and grace. And you deserve that. You absolutely deserve it.

I want to encourage you whenever you're in a state where you recognize that you are stressed out, lean into the breath, shake out your body, remind yourself you're safe, and do that. If you catch yourself in the act of scrolling, eating, drinking, or taking drugs, and you catch yourself in the act, forgive yourself for the act, and ask yourself, what is it that I truly need at this moment in time that supports my body, my being, to know that it is safe and I am safe.

Please don't judge yourself or shame yourself when you catch yourself in the act or after the act. Forgive yourself and then choose a different behavior and state what that new behavior is going to be because it's going to support you in your soul's evolution.

If you feel like you're doing too much of something, eating too much junk food or drinking wine or alcohol too often, or maybe your device is cannabis, or maybe you're watching too much TV, or scrolling on social media, or working too much. I didn't even get into that part. Coping devices can be working too much, sex addiction.

There are so many ways that we cope, and we numb out. And for me, for a really long time, numbing out was working. And it's acceptable behavior. You're actually cheered on and admired because you work so hard and you are accomplishing so much. But on the inside, you're stressing yourself out even more.

You're running from whatever it is that you are trying to numb yourself, from looking at to addressing, to talking about, to feeling. There are so many ways that people numb out, and not every way is healthy or even considered numbing out.

The main thing is you got to be honest with yourself when you are numbing out and choose different behaviors so that you can cope with your stress in a healthy, mindful way. Remember, you guys have heard me say this a million times; you are going to have emotions that are scary.

We have emotions as a human experience, and we are gifted with those emotions. We have elaborate emotions like excitement and ecstasy, and joy. We also have sadness and shame and guilt and anger. They're all simply emotions. So stop running away from them. Address them. The sooner you address them, the easier it is to stop numbing out.

Give yourself permission to feel them and choose something different. You deserve to live life to its fullest and to feel and to move and to experience ecstasy in this lifetime in such a healthy way.

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All media content provided by Amy Robeson and Love, Light, & Yoga LLC is intended for entertainment or educational purposes only. None of this content is intended to offer, or replace qualified medical or health-related advice. All guided meditations and healings are for relaxation purposes. The author accepts no responsibility or liability whatsoever for any injury, loss, or damage in any shape or form incurred in part or in whole, as a direct or indirect result of use or reliance upon the information and material presented here.

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