Create 'Bouncebackability' from Stress

We often think of 'stress management' the tool/s to ‘cope with the situation’, whether it be managing our breathing, reframing thoughts, taking ourselves away from the situation.

Whilst these are really valid strategies for dealing with stress as and when it comes along, there is also great value in ‘prevention’.

Stress is part of our lives, so I am not talking about preventing any stress; Stress can be positive and help us grow. So really, I am talking about stopping us being tipped over the edge by stress; ie. staying safelt away from the edge of falling down the stress hole!

What might this look like?

Well, I believe some of the criteria for 'resilience' (I like to think of it as bouncebackability):

 - we know ourselves,
 - are clear on our purpose,
 - have supportive relationships,
 - look after our physical health,

And when I think of 'bouncebackability', I think of:

When a busy period comes along at work, or we suffer a bereavement, we are more equipped to be able to 'cope with the situation'.

For me, coping would mean I can still function to a degree, rationally deal with the situation and respond in a way aligns with my values;
Plus,  experience the range of emotions that comes with these things, without it then hampering my ability to be able to bounce back to be able to function as desired after the event has passed. Clearly, this may be a slow process in certain scenarios.

Note. I believe bouncebackability is created when we are in a place of balance - ie. we are not currently in the stress hole! Management tools to 'rest' are most appropriate when in the stress hole.
When I have spoken with clients who have struggled with stress, a common feature is the lack of pleasure, joy and/or activities that don’t have ‘purpose’ as such. If I ask the question, what brings you joy and pleasure? There is often a pause and there is some thinking time needed. Sadly, some people I have spoken with are unable to provide an answer to this.

In our culture, play in adulthood can often be viewed as selfish, and self-indulgent and a waste of time, which can be a barrier to entry. Play is often thought of as merely a childhood activity but this shouldn't be the case, since we can benefit hugely from including forms of play. Like with all of these things, I often hear the analogy of putting the oxygen mask on before we can help others. It makes sense that we need vibrancy and energy to be able to serve others.

What can we do?

The ‘need’ for play is outlined really nicely in this article by functional medicine expert, Chris Kresser, who talks about the need for play:

 10 Benefits of Play (

This discusses play as an essential component of life, especially within the context of stress management – akin to how our body’s need movement and nutrition.

Intuitively, we recognise play as such a foundational part of a child’s development, as it promotes brain growth to increase their capacity for learning, dealing with novel situations, emotional development, cognitive ‘flexibility’, which helps with problem solving. And as Kresser points out, it is never too late; We see that we have the ability to grow new brain neurons in all ages and this is potentially going to play a key role in stress management and even reducing risk of dementia.

Do you need a prescription of play? If so, then continue reading!

 - What are the things that bring you joy?

 - When was the last time you think you did something for its own sake?

 - What was it and how did it make you feel?

 - What activity do you get so lost in, you lose track of time? (the caveat      being, this is an activity which gives you a positive feeling an                  energy from doing it – otherwise surfing the internet would qualify!)

If you are struggling to answer the above and/or identify there is a distinct lack of play and pleasure in your life, you are not alone. It can be difficult to get started with anything that we haven’t done for some time. Hopefully, the article will help you to see the rationale and give you ideas as to how you might start to include play.

Where to Start?

Sods law! When we are overly stressed, it is difficult to broaden our horizons and think creatively, so if you want to start to incorporate play, the first steps to exploring how this might look for you could be:

- Think of activities you have done in the past that have ticked the boxes for play/ brought you real joy. We think more expansively when we are in a safe environment and experience positive emotions (ie. peace, happiness, calm). For me, this is being outside after a walk or after my morning coffee when I feel full of energy and positivity! Use these times to write down/talk through potential options when you are in this type of setting.

- Aim for something doable for you, like 30 minutes per week. Often, we can tick a few boxes a the same time – ie. if we feel we would benefit form more time outdoors, time with the family, it could simply be getting a simple game of frisbee out in a local park together at a weekend. Think of when this could be included in your life – protecting time in your diary on the calendar might seem like it will destroy the spontaneity that often is part of play but as an initial step, it may well be essential to keeping it on the radar, as we are creatures of habit.

I would recommend reading the Kresser article to get a better sense of play and ideas for execution!

Please do share your playtime activities with us, as it helps to give us all ideas as to how we might broaden our horizons.

Health Coach 

If you want to find out more about health coaching, or wish to book in for health coaching with me, then please do email me:
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