Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Female Stress Response

A couple of months ago I wrote about men and women taking stress in different parts of the body. Well as it turns out, that's not the only difference when it comes to stress; women and men actually experience stress quite differently. Recent research shows that while men are typically inclined to the ‘Fight-or-Flight’ response to stress, women are more inclined to have a  ‘Tend-&-Befriend’ response. In other words, rather than becoming angry or defensive and feeling the need to strike out or ‘go off’, women are more likely to feel emotional and want to seek out someone to talk to.  So rather than give you the typical advice to ‘take 3 breaths’ or ‘punch a punching bag’ for the equally typical ‘Fight/Flight’ reaction, here’s one just for the female ‘Tend & Befriend’ response!
Next time you feel an unexplained urge to talk to someone, stop for a moment and check whether it’s in response to stress. If you determine that it is, then use this knowledge about yourself to make 3 choices:
  1. Choose who you talk to, with careful consideration
  2. Choose your words mindfully, so they becomes a constructive stress-relieving process, rather than a 'whine & complain'  session.
  3. Choose to move on to something positive afterwards, even if it’s just having tea in a favorite cup, reading something funny, or buying a new cologne!

Monday, September 20, 2010

An Inspiration to Practice

Having just seen the beautifully inspiring movie Mao’s Last Dancer, I feel an analogy coming on! I am irresistibly drawn to make the comparison between dance training and (of course :-) emotional mastery practice. As dancers train their bodies daily to build the strength and control they need in order to execute their movements with the desired ease, we can train our minds and bodies to generate positive feelings, feelings of appreciation, joy and love. Doing this for our own growth and stress management, we also build the strength to generate the feelings easily and quickly when we need them to help or relate to others. I recall my days (too, too long ago!) as a dancer and teacher of dance, and the self-discipline required to achieve even the basic skills - the enthusiasm I felt before any success was achieved helps put the practice of emotional mastery in easy perspective – like building any muscle, it requires enthusiastic, repetitive practice!
Some people identify more with the analogy of a savings account in the bank; practicing generating positive emotional states is like putting money in the bank; after a while, when you need to call on it (or you need ‘funds’), you have it there to draw on, rather than draining the overdraft!
Whichever way we see it however, whether it's as daily practices or daily investments, such frequent attention can only lead to good results. Mao's Last Dancer is just a particularly beautiful example!

Monday, September 13, 2010


Autumn always reminds me of that game with leaves. You know, the one where we all go out to a tree that’s losing it’s leaves, and choose a fallen leaf each. Then we each examine our leaf thoroughly, we smell it and we feel it. Then we all put our leaves in a big pile of leaves and toss them about. Then we try to find ‘our’ leaf. The process of identifying that one leaf always creates such a lovely opportunity for discussion about uniqueness and differences within a species – within any part of creation - that even though we are not exactly the same, we are all special and significant each in our own way. And as someone once said 'differences challenge assumptions'. Timely right now, I feel.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

The Handwriting On The Wall

A weary mother returned from the store
Lugging groceries through the kitchen door
Awaiting her arrival was her 8 year old son,
Eager to relate what his younger brother had done
“While I was out playing and Dad was on call
T.J. took his crayons and wrote on the wall!
It’s on the new paper you just hung in the den,
I told him you’d be mad at having to do it again.”

She let out a moan and furrowed her brow,
“Where is your little brother right now?”
She emptied her arms and with purposeful stride,
She went to his closet where he’d gone to hide.
She called his full name and she entered his room,
He trembled with fear – he knew this meant doom!
For the next ten minutes, she ranted and raved,
About the costly wall paper and how she’d saved.
Lamenting the work it would take to repair,
She condemned his actions and total lack of care.
The more she scolded, the madder she got,
Then stomped from his room, totally distraught!
She headed for the den to confirm her fears,
She saw the wall and her eyes filled with tears.
The message she read pierced her soul like a dart,
It said “I love Mommy”, surrounded by a heart.
Well, the wallpaper remained, just as she had found it,
With an empty picture frame to surround it.
A reminder to her, and indeed to all,
Take time to read the handwriting on the wall.
Unknown author